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The Ten Dumbest Common Core Problems
Sample questions guaranteed to make your brain hurt in all the wrong places.


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The Common Core State Standards Initiative is widely denounced for imposing confusing, unhelpful experimental teaching methods. Following these methods, some have created problems that lack essential information or make no sense whatsoever.

Some 45 states and the District of Columbia have so far adopted Common Core standards, leaving students all around the United States to puzzle over mysterious logic and language devised in accordance with Common Core’s new methods.

Here are eleven Common Core–compliant problems that have caused parents, students, and even teachers to scratch their heads or respond in outrage:

1. Starting with an easily solvable problem, New York takes the simple “7+7″ and complicates it with something called “number bonds.”

2. Not willing to ruin addition alone, educators take aim at subtraction as well, forcing students to make visual representations of numbers in columns.

3. This third-grade Common Core-compliant question asks students to match the shaded geometrical figures with their corresponding fractions. Problem is the figures aren’t shaded.

4. The first question on this first-grade math test, found by the Washington Post, makes one wonder how coins relate to cups.

5. From the same test, numbers 7 and 8 unnecessarily complicate simple arithmetic with odd, quadrilateral diagrams.

6. This question apparently eschews the use of rulers.

7. This “cheat sheet” provided to parents at an Atlanta elementary school provides definitions for some of Common Core’s Newspeak vocabulary, which throws out stuffily precise language like “add” and “subtract.” Under the obsolete math paradigm, students were bored by “word problems,” but in the new era they are challenged by “math situations.” And where a pre-enlightenment teacher might advise students to “borrow” a number when performing an equation, today’s kids are trained to “take a ten and regroup it as ten ones.”

8. Students now learn to visually show “doubles plus one . . .”

9. Apparently, “1” is a very blue number.

10. Last up: A math problem that isn’t a problem at all. In fact, the answer is stated at the very beginning.

— Alec Torres is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.

Editor’s Note: This piece has been amended since its initial posting.



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