For years, reports about the declining U.S. performance in mathematics on international assessments have called for a greater focus on mathematics education. To address this concern, the Common Core State Standards are requiring an understanding of three core instructional shifts.
Greater focus on fewer topics. Instruction will need to go from a mile wide and an inch deep to much less wide and much deeper. Like in international countries, U.S. educators must narrow the scope of content and spend more time and energy on a smaller number of topics.
Linking topics. Mathematics is not a list of disconnected topics. Rather, topics are interconnected and link together from one grade to the next. It is crucial that we explore the progression of these topics over time.
Pursuit of conceptual understanding. Rather than just focusing on how to get the right answer, students will need to have the time and space to develop a conceptual understanding or reasoning on how to arrive at a particular answer. Students may be asked to defend their answer.