The New Illinois Learning Standards for Math, based on the Common Core State Standards, are a fundamental shift in the way our children learn math. These new standards don’t just spell out what a student needs to learn, but shift teaching in focus, coherence, and rigor.

The standards focus on the skills that students truly need to master at each grade level, which means there are fewer standards and more teaching time for each one. The standards are also coherent, meaning that each new concept builds upon those learned before, both during a single school year and from grade to grade.

Finally the standards are rigorous by requiring conceptual understanding, procedural skill and fluency, and application of that understanding and fluency in equal measure. Conceptual understanding means more than memorizing multiplication tables (though students still need to know them) or learning “tricks” to get to a solution; it means understanding the actual mathematical process behind their work. Procedural skill and fluency requires students to perform math with both speed and accuracy. Lastly, under the New Illinois Learning Standards for math, students will apply their knowledge to real world situations, allowing them to develop their critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Math Video Series

With these new standards comes new ways of teaching as well, and the math homework your child brings home may not look like the math you did as a child, either as problems or how your child works to solve them. To help parents understand these changes, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and The Hunt Institute have produced a series of videos. Starting from the early grades, these videos cover the importance of developing a solid foundation for algebra and laying the groundwork for calculus and other college-level math. The videos also address the Common Core State Standards for Math and explains why developing conceptual understanding requires a different approach to teaching and learning. The videos in the series, generally each running five to ten minutes, are:

Additional Math Resources for Parents

There are many different resources to help parents with the new math standards. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics website has a collection of problems that you can sort by grade level and specific standards.

The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS), located just west of Baltimore, Maryland, knew that Maryland’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards for math would bring challenges for families to support their children. To help families help their children, HCPSS created the Family Mathematics Support Center. The site helps families gain a better understanding of their child’s mathematics program, refresh or build their understanding of new math concepts, and provides additional support and practice opportunities for students. Because both Maryland’s and Illinois’s math standards are based on the Common Core State Standards, the materials developed by HCPSS can also support your student here in Illinois.

Khan Academy, the ad-free, subscription-free, online course website, has created a series aligned specifically to the Common Core State Standards. The math courses run all the way from kindergarten and learning to count up to high school Algebra II and beyond to calculus. Students can practice on the skills they need the most help on at their own pace.