Making the Simple Complicated – Common Core Math

Nov 4, 2013 by


by Donna Garner




This is the type of “reform math” that is now showing up in schools that are aligned with the Common Core Standards:


Confused?  You bet, and students are, too.  


An unnamed math professor at a prestigious university who studied the YouTube video gave this explanation: 


“That weird equilateral triangle is something invented since we were all in school.  It is their non-obvious way of writing basic number facts.  Took me a long time to figure it out.  The number at the top is the sum of the two numbers in the bottom corners.  You can then do the subtraction facts from this as well.” 



LearnZillion is one of the many companies that is marketing its Common Core Math Standards:


To get more confused, just look at the various videos on their site. 


What was wrong with the math that our American astronauts learned when they were the first to put a man on the moon? 


I still stand by Saxon Math as the best way to teach students. Saxon Math introduces concepts in tiny pieces and then spirals students’ mastery through continuous practice on new and previous concepts.  Reform math programs take concepts in bigger chunks but do not bother to establish mastery as students proceed along.



To learn about Saxon Math – homeschoolers:



Free Saxon placement tests:



Other links:




The labeling of the various Saxon Math books is a little confusing; but I think this is how the labeling goes:


Math 6/5 is for 5th grade students with average math skills. Saxon 7/6 is basically for 6th grade. 




This testimony is from Martha Schwartz in front of the National Math Panel.  She talks about Saxon Math and gives Stanford 9 test data on how Saxon Math students performed in California:




Saxon homeschool site:;jsessionid=502D12309C8A3066C5191E38613CB356.ecom-app-wk1



4.9.12 — New biography: John Saxon’s Story: A Genius of Common Sense in Math Education — by Niki (Naconia) Hayes

Comments by Donna Garner:

Niki Hayes’s new book entitled John Saxon’s Story: A Genius of Common Sense in Math Education hit the shelves on May 1, 2010.   

I have followed Niki’s progress as she has written this marvelous biography, and I can tell you that nothing like it has ever been written on John Saxon’s life.  Niki gained access to Saxon’s personal possessions, memoirs, archived tapes, diaries, journals, interviews, and scrapbooks.  She spent so much time going through his materials that she was able to think like him as she wrote the story of his life.

John Saxon was a very witty and brilliant scholar, and his passion for teaching students math the right way is a story that must be told.  Niki has done just that. 

As you read the book, you will feel as if you have crawled into Saxon’s marvelous mind; and you will come to understand why he fought so hard to publicize the math series he wrote and published — Saxon Math.    

He showed how mathematics could indeed remain true to itself—a historically rich discipline—and still cause students from all academic levels (and races and genders) to say, ‘I love math!’ (Niki Hayes)

I treasure Niki Hayes’ diligence to present John Saxon’s colorful life in all its boldness and uniqueness.

“When Saxon died in 1996, Saxon Publishers had sales of $27 million in spite of major efforts by math education leaders and their political allies to destroy him personally and professionally.”  (Niki Hayes)


Please go to either of these sites to order a copy of Niki’s book:




Donna Garner

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