Effective teacher training critical to success of Common Core math

The quality of teacher training will be crucial to the success of the new Common Core State Standards in math, educators say, and the pressure is on districts to give elementary school teachers the skills they’ll need to provide students with a firm foundation in early arithmetic.

“My big worry is that we’re not going support (teachers) and then we’re going to say, ‘See, the Common Core doesn’t work,’” said UCLA education professor Megan Franke, who focuses on mathematics education.

Franke said the teachers she’s met in her trainings are unevenly prepared to take on the challenge of instructing students in the dramatically different fashion needed to reach the more comprehensive standards.

Teacher preparation programs in the state vary widely in quality, according to Greatness by Design, a 2012 report issued by a blue-ribbon task force appointed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. And once teachers are hired, the availability of professional development opportunities to improve their skills varies widely across the state, as well. Five districts contacted by EdSource said several were offering between three to 10 days of training in math instruction aligned to the Common Core for elementary teachers; others were not offering any additional training.

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