May 15, 2015 by

Dumb and Dumber!

Common Core – Dumb and Dumber!

“The Best Way for All States, Including Nebraska, To Write Curriculum Standards”

By Henry W. Burke



On 5.8.15, Henry W. Burke testified before the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) and the State Board of Education (SBOE) to explain how state standards (math in this case) should be organized and written.  Since many states are considering pulling away from the Common Core Standards to write their own standards, Mr. Burke’s presentation has national significance.  


VIDEO:  Mr. Burke’s presentation starts at marker 3:10 through 13:05:






Critique of Draft Nebraska Mathematics Standards


By Henry W. Burke





The Draft Nebraska Mathematics Standards were released to the public by the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) on 4.3.15.  These are the links for the Draft Math Standards:



Questions Answered in This Report


How do the Draft Nebraska Mathematics Standards compare with the Texas TEKS Math Standards?

Will the Draft Math Standards close the achievement gap and improve graduation rates?

Will the Draft Math Standards prepare students for college and STEM careers?




  1. Tenets of Excellent Type #1 Standards


I have stated this repeatedly in my verbal presentations and reports to the State Board of Education. 


In order to have excellent state standards, they need to be:


  1. Explicit
  2. Knowledge-based
  3. Academic
  4. Clearly-worded
  5. Grade-level specific
  6. Measurable



If state standards comply with the six criteria (six tenets) listed above, teachers will not have to second-guess the standards writers.  School districts will not need to hire expensive consultants to “interpret” the standards nor to develop curriculum; it will be readily apparent what is required for each and every grade (and course).  Similarly, the school districts will save money that otherwise would be spent with Educational Service Units (ESU’s). 


Good standards are the key to improving educational outcomes, closing the achievement gap, and raising the graduation rates in Nebraska.


Type #1 and Type #2 Education

Experienced educators know that there are two basic philosophies of education — Type #1 and Type #2.  Nearly all educators, curriculum, vendors, lobbyists, organizations, and advocacy groups fall into either Type #1 or Type #2. 


Basically Type #1 means the curriculum standards are traditional/knowledge-based/academic, emphasize back-to-the-basics core knowledge and skills that grow in depth and complexity from one grade level to the next, are specific for each grade level (or course), and can be tested largely through objective questions that have right-or-wrong answers.  Exemplary education standards must be Type #1!  


Current examples of Type #2 education standards are the Common Core Standards (CCS) and CSCOPE (used in Texas and elsewhere).  Common Core is just the latest version of the old education fads such as “school-to work” and “outcome-based education” (OBE). 


With Type #2 education, students work in groups, receive group grades, and receive project-based learning (constructivism).  Tests (assessments) have many subjective questions, with no right or wrong answers; the people scoring the tests determine what is correct.


The following chart provides the characteristics of Type #1 and Type #2 education:






Type #1 (Traditional) vs. Type #2 (CSCOPE & Common Core)



Description Type #1TraditionalClassical Learning Type #2CSCOPE andCommon Core Standards Progressive,Radical Social Justice Agenda
Instruction Direct instruction by teacher Self-directed learning, group-think Emphasis on:Subjectivity, feelings, emotions, beliefs, multiculturalism, political correctness, social engineering, globalism, evolution, sexual freedom, contraceptives, environmental extremism, global warming and climate change, victimization, diversity, acceptance of homosexuality as normal, redistribution of wealth  De-emphasis on:

Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, Constitution, national sovereignty, Founding Fathers, American exceptionalism


Curriculum Academic, fact-based, skills, research Social concerns, project-based, constructivism, subjective, uses unproven fads and theories
Teacher’s Role Authority figure; sets the plan for the class; academic instruction Facilitator
Student’s Role Learn from teacher; focus on factual learning, develop foundation skills for logical and analytical reasoning, independent thinking Students teach each other; focus on feelings, emotions, opinions; group-think
English, Language Arts, Reading (ELAR) Phonics; classical literature; cursive handwriting; grammar; usage; correct spelling; expository, persuasive, research writing Whole language, balanced literacy, Guided Reading; no cursive writing instruction so cannot read primary documents of Founding Fathers
Mathematics “Drill and Skill,” four math functions learned to automaticity Fuzzy math, rejects drill and memorization of math facts, dependent on calculators
Social Studies Focus on American heritage and exceptionalism, national sovereignty, Founding documents Diversity, multiculturalism, globalization, revisionist history, political correctness
Character Development Pro-faith, self-control, personal responsibility, self-discipline, solid work ethic Secular, moral relativism, anti-faith, victimization
Equality Equal opportunities Equal outcomes
Assessment Students evaluated by earned grades, objective tests Inflated grades, subjective assessments evaluated based upon value system of grader, group grades
Outcomes Objective tests (right-or-wrong answers), emphasis on academic skills and knowledge Subjective assessments; emphasis on holistic, “feel good” scoring


Original chart produced by Carole H. Haynes, Ph.D. –

(Revised chart produced 11.04.13 by HWB)




  1. The NDE Standards Revision Process Is Flawed


  1. Wrong Foundation


The first mistake that the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) made was to base the new Proposed Draft Mathematics Standards on the weak 2009 Nebraska Mathematics Standards. 


When the NDE arbitrarily decided that the base document for the new 2015 Math Standards would be that of the 2009 Standards, everything from that point on has been fruitless.  The best approach would have been to begin the new 2015 Standards on a strong Type #1 foundation, modeling the Nebraska Standards after other good Type #1 standards documents.   


By utilizing the wrong foundation (Type #2), the NDE is not following one of the first rules of a good standards document; standards must be strong Type #1 standards. 


Good standards must be grade level-specific to make sure that all teachers, students, and parents know what the yearly goals are.  The new Draft Math Standards group Grades 9-11 together and include a Grade 12 Advanced Topics.  [The grouping of grade levels in clusters means no clearly set goals in each course with no clear accountability for either students nor teachers.]


Evidently the NDE has not learned anything from its past mistakes!  Standards must be grade-level specific.  This means that a separate set of well-defined standards needs to be written for every single grade level/course!



  1. Standards Writers See Only One Grade Level


The standards revision process employed by the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) is fundamentally flawed.  When standards writers (reviewers) are asked to participate in a standards review team, they are assigned to one grade level (for example Grade 5).  They are not allowed to look at the math standards for Grade 4 or Grade 6; they focus only on their assigned grade.  How can they check to see how a strand progresses from one grade level to the next grade level with this policy?


Standards cannot be written in a vacuum with no input from the other standards writers.  Math (like grammar/usage and foreign languages) builds upon what was learned before.  Learning is a natural progression; a student masters one concept before moving to the next logical step.  Each concept is built upon what was learned before.  Because experienced teachers understand this fundamental truth, the best reviewers (standards writers) are experienced math teachers. 


For example, the following standard is listed for Grade 5 Geometry:

            Generate conversions within a system of measurement including smaller to larger units.


A good standards document would include standards in Grades 1, 2, 3, and 4 that logically precede the listed standard in Grade 5; similarly, good follow-up standards would be shown in Grades 6, 7, etc.  This is not done with the Nebraska Draft Standards.


Under the NDE’s policy, the standards will have no continuity; instead of appearing as if they were written by one author, the standards will reflect the multiple-author approach.  Through the eyes of the student who passes from one grade level to the next, he/she must experience a natural cognitive progression of skills without gaps in learning. 


The NDE employs another silly policy — A standards writer (reviewer) for this revision cycle is not allowed to participate in the next revision cycle (five years from now).  This could prevent experienced reviewers from contributing things that they learned from the previous revision cycle. 




  1. Improvements Over 2009 Math Standards


When the new 2015 Draft Math Standards are compared with the existing 2009 Math Standards, some improvements are apparent.  The NDE has attempted to write a standards document that moves Nebraska in the right direction, but the improvements are somewhat limited. 


Here are a few examples of the improvements.



In my 3.4.15 report to the State Board of Education (SBOE), I highlighted this Grade 5 standard from the 2009 Math Standards:

          Students will determine theoretical probabilities.


I pointed out that a fifth grade student could not “determine theoretical probabilities.”


In the new 2015 Draft Mathematics Standards, the following standard is repeated for Grades K-12:

          Probability: Students will interpret and apply concepts of probability.


In Grades K-6, this qualifier is added:

            Mastery is not expected at this level.


Apparently, the NDE listened to my comment that a fifth grade student could not determine theoretical probabilities.  They added the qualifier statement “Mastery is not expected at this level” for Grades K-6.  Why do the authors of the 2015 Draft Standards bother to list a standard that is beyond the level of the students?  It does not make sense.



Grade-level Specific

A very minor improvement relates to grade-level specific standards.  In the 2009 Math Standards, standards are listed for Grades K-8 and High School.  For the 2015 Draft Standards, High School is slightly subdivided into Grades 9-11 and Grade 12 Advanced Topics.  Why did the NDE choose not to list separate standards for every single grade level/course (Algebra I, Algebra II, Calculus, etc.)?




  1. Deficiencies in the Nebraska Math Standards



Once again, the six tenets of excellent Type #1 standards are:


  1. Explicit
  2. Knowledge-based
  3. Academic
  4. Clearly-worded
  5. Grade-level specific
  6. Measurable



The following examples from the 2015 Draft Nebraska Mathematics Standards illustrate where the six tenets are not met:


  1. Not Explicit


The following standard is for Grade 3 Numeric Relationships:

            Represent and understand a fraction as a number on a number line.


An example would clarify and illustrate the concept.


This standard for Grade 4 Numeric Relationship could also benefit from an example:

            Explain how to change a mixed number to a fraction and how to change a fraction to a mixed number.



  1. Not Knowledge-Based


This standard is listed for Grade 7 Algebra Applications:

            Students will solve real-life problems involving inequalities.


A few clarifying words would eliminate possible confusion with social issues.


The following standard is for Kindergarten Geometry:

            Describe measurable attributes of real-life objects, e.g., length or weight.


Incidentally, parentheses should be added, as follows:

          Describe measurable attributes of real-life objects (e.g., length or weight.).


The above standard is not a good knowledge-based standard (too subjective). 


Good knowledge-based standards use verbs such as “define, label, name, list, choose, identify, match, recognize, and write” rather than the subjective verb “describe.” 


The following standard is knowledge-based:

          Give an example of a measurable attribute of a given object, including length and weight. 



Also from Kindergarten Geometry, this standard is listed:

            Compare length and weight of two objects (e.g., longer/shorter, heavier/lighter).


A kindergarten student might find it difficult to determine which object is heavier, especially if different units are used.  On the other hand, the student should be able to say which object is longer.


A good knowledge-based Kindergarten Geometry standard is the following:

            Compare two objects with a common measurable attribute to see which object has more of/less of the attribute and describe the difference.


[The above standard was taken from the Texas TEKS for Mathematics.]



  1. Not Academic


The following standard is shown under Grade 7 Data:

            Determine and critique biases in different data representations.


Curriculum developed from this standard could be vague and misleading based upon opinions and generic, vague responses.  Good standards must be academic where the answers are clearly right or wrong.


A much better academic standard for data is the following:

            Use the graphical representation of numeric data to describe the center, spread, and shape of the data distribution.


[The above standard appears in the Texas Math TEKS for Grade 6 Data.]


Under Grade 12 Advanced Topics, this item is listed:

                Analysis & Applications: Students will analyze data to address the situation.


No standards were shown under this item.  A standards document cannot be “academic” when specific standards are not given.



  1. Not Clearly-Worded


The following Grade 1 Numeric Relationship standards are given:

            Use one-to one correspondence (pairing each object with one and only one spoken number name, and each spoken number name with one and only one object) when counting objects to show the relationship between numbers and quantities of 0 to 20.


          Demonstrate that each digit of a two-digit number represents amounts of tens and ones, knowing 10 can be considered as one unit made of ten ones which is called a “ten” and any two-digit number can be composed of some tens and some ones (e.g., 19 is one ten and nine ones, 83 is 8 tens and 3 ones) and can be recorded as an equation (e.g., 19 = 10 + 9).


Are the above standards clearly-worded?  Would a first grade student understand the equation in the second standard?



  1. Not Grade-Level Specific


I have been harping on this theme for many years — Standards must be grade-level specific!  In my testimony before the State Board of Education in 1987, I pointed out that State Standards must be grade-level specific.  At that time, Nebraska had standards for only Grades 4, 8 and 12


At least now there are standards for each grade level K-8; however, the writers of the 2015 Draft Mathematics Standards for high school decided to group Grades 9-11 together and wrote a separate set of standards for Grade 12 (Advanced Topics).  In high school, the standards need to be explicit for each course (e.g., Algebra I, Algebra II, Calculus, etc.)


Teachers must know exactly what should be covered for every single grade/course with no exceptions.  When Grades 9-11 are lumped together, the teachers and students are unsure what falls into each grade level/course.


Without specific standards for each grade/course, teachers will have to guess what should be covered in a particular grade/course; and there will be no real accountability at each grade level or course for teachers nor for their students.


I am guessing that the NDE took its lead from the highly questionable and non-piloted Common Core Standards.  For English, Common Core provides standards for Grades K-8, 9-10, and 11-12.  For Math, Common Core includes standards for Grades K-8, and High School.  In Math, the NDE mimics the Common Core approach and groups Grades 9-11 together.  Since the Common Core authors grouped several grades together, the NDE evidently decided to follow the same wrong pathway.


When the grade-level specific concept is ignored, unnecessary repetition naturally occurs.


The following standard (Comprehensive Statement) is repeated for Grades K-8:

          Numeric Relationships: Students will demonstrate, represent, and show relationships among whole numbers within the base-ten number system.


A similar repetition occurs with this Comprehensive Standard for K-2:

            Operations: Students will demonstrate the meaning of addition and subtraction with whole numbers and compute accurately.


This standard (Comprehensive Standard) was repeated for every grade (K-12):

            Characteristics: Students will identify and describe geometric characteristics and create two- and three dimensional shapes.


The following standard (Comprehensive Standard) was repeated for Grades 6-12:

            Analytic Geometry: Students will determine location, orientation, and relationships on the coordinate plane.



  1. Not Measurable


In order for standards to be excellent Type #1 standards, they must be measurable.


Is this standard for Grade 12 Advanced Topics measurable?

            Determine the magnitude of complex numbers.



Under Analytic Geometry, standards are not listed for Grades 6, 7, and 8.  The NDE should either list a standard or explain that “Mastery is not expected at this grade level.”


This Data – Grade 1 standard is given:

            Organize and represent a data set with up to three categories.


Is the above standard measurable?



Other Attributes of Good Math Standards


The Nebraska Draft Math Standards also fail to meet these other attributes of good math standards:



  1. Not Age-Appropriate


Standards must also be age-appropriate!


This standard is listed for Kindergarten Algebraic Processes:

            Students will apply the operational properties when adding and subtracting.


After the standard, this qualifier statement is shown:

            Mastery is not expected at this level.


Why does the NDE bother to list a standard that does not apply to a certain grade level?


Kindergarten Numeric Relationships includes the following standard:

            Compose and decompose numbers from 11 to 19 into ten ones and some more ones by a drawing, model, or equation (e.g., 14 = 10 + 4) to record each composition and decomposition.


The above standard is not appropriate for a kindergarten student!


Kindergarten Geometry includes the following standard:

            Compare and analyze two- and three-dimensional shapes, with different sizes and orientations, to describe their similarities, differences, parts (e.g., number of vertices), and other attributes (e.g., sides of equal length).


Would a kindergarten student understand two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes?  Would vertices mean anything to such a young child?  Standards must be age-appropriate!



  1. Few Standard Math Algorithms


The following is a standard for Grade 4 Number Operations:

            Multiply a two-digit whole number by a two-digit whole number using the standard algorithm.


This standard is listed for Grade 5 Number Operations:

            Multiply a whole number by a fraction or a fraction by a fraction using models and visual representations.


Experienced math teachers know that the standard algorithms must be taught in Grades K-5.  These are the procedures used in multiplication and division that our parents and grandparents learned (and some of us who are older). 


Traditional Type #1 math emphasizes the standard algorithms while the Type #2 Common Core Math (reform math) pushes models and gimmicks like “inquiry math.”  What happens when you teach a child multiple strategies?  You create confusion and the inability to master one way, the most efficient way. 


The long division algorithm is logical and efficient.  When the student gets to Algebra and the long division of polynomials, the student must be able to do traditional long division. 



  1. No Saxon Math


In my January 2014 presentation to the State Board (12.29.13 report), I suggested the use of Saxon Math.  At the March 2014 Board Meeting, I strongly recommended that Nebraska incorporate Saxon Math into the Math Standards.  Saxon Math would be a great solution for Nebraska schools!  The Draft Nebraska Math Standards would be greatly improved through the inclusion of Saxon Math.


Saxon Math is Traditional Math; and Traditional Math is based on 2,000 years of teaching math. Our parents and grandparents learned Traditional Math in school and they learned math algorithms. Algorithms are certain procedures that, if used correctly, work every time; and people get the correct result! You simply take Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, and that leads to the correct answer. With Traditional Math, answers and accuracy count. Results matter!



In Saxon Math, calculators are not used in K-5 grades. In the early years, students need to learn the times tables and long division; they work the problems out by hand. Repetition promotes learning and understanding.



  1. College and Career-Ready Standards and STEM Careers


One of the big propaganda ploys of the Common Core Standards (CCS) is to say that they are “College and Career Ready.”  However, nobody connected with the Common Core can explicitly describe what that term means; and the Common Core Standards are not internationally benchmarked nor have they been piloted to prove their academic superiority.  The NDE is falling in line with the same Common Core philosophy by utilizing the same terminology: “College and Career Readiness.”


I included the following Section about Common Core Math in my 3.4.15 report to the State Board of Education and NDE:


Common Core Math Does Not Support STEM Careers

The Common Core proponents often tout how the standards will prepare students for careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  Common Core Math basically ends with a very incomplete Algebra 2 course.  Because Common Core Math does not include trigonometry or calculus, students will not be prepared for STEM studies when they enter college.


Jason Zimba, one of the lead authors of Common Core Math, even admitted that CCS does not prepare students for STEM.  Zimba told the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that the new standards would not prepare students for colleges to which “most parents aspire” to send their children.


I recently checked the engineering requirements at a number of colleges and universities.  Almost all of them required incoming freshman students to have taken four years of high school math, preferably through Calculus.   This means entering college freshmen with a Common Core background will have to take “remedial,” non-credit courses before they can begin their engineering studies (hence, more time and money).



The above information makes it clear that Common Core Math does not prepare students for careers in STEM.  What about the 2015 Draft Nebraska Mathematics Standards?


Engineering colleges (and other STEM fields) require incoming freshmen to have had four years of high school math, preferably through calculus.  Because the Nebraska Standards for high school lump Grades 9-11 together, it is unclear what is required for each grade level. 


Obviously, the NDE is not requiring students to take four years of high school math.  Calculus and pre-calculus are not included; and trigonometry gets scant coverage.  Clearly, Nebraska’s proposed Math Standards do not prepare students for STEM education in college and careers in STEM fields.


Of course, the NDE will pursue approval of the 2015 Nebraska Math Standards by the Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) in the state.  If the IHE certifies that the new Nebraska Mathematics Standards are “College and Career-Ready Standards,” it will be obvious that the IHE certification is meaningless!  People will then see that the “College and Career-Ready Standards” label is totally without merit.


[Since Nebraska is foolishly pursuing the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Waiver, the “College and Career-Ready Standards” label for Math is important to the NDE.]




  1. Comparison of Nebraska Math Standards with Texas TEKS


Before the Common Core Standards came along, several states had outstanding math standards (e.g., Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Indiana).  Did the NDE research these state math standards?


By any measure, Texas has the best Type #1 Standards in the country!  Because Texas is the largest textbook market in the U.S., numerous textbooks and instructional materials (IMs) are written to comply with the Texas TEKS Standards (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills).


Beginning with the November 2013 State Board Meeting, I have been recommending that the NDE should use the Texas TEKS Standards.  This is the link to the Texas TEKS for Mathematics:


The Texas TEKS Standards for Mathematics are excellent Type #1 Standards.  Quite briefly, the TEKS possess the following attributes:


  1. Elementary School

In Elementary School, Kindergarten-Grade 5, the Texas TEKS provide standards that are clear and progress logically from one grade level to the next grade level.  The TEKS include standards for the following “Knowledge and skills” areas: 1) Mathematical process standards, 2) Number and operations, 3) Algebraic reasoning, 4) Geometry and measurement, 5) Data analysis, and 6) Personal financial literacy.



  1. Middle School

In Middle School, Grades 6-8, the Texas TEKS continue to provide clear, concise and logical standards.  The TEKS include standards for the following “Knowledge and skills” areas: 1) Mathematical process standards, 2) Number and operations, 3) Algebraic reasoning, 4) Geometry and measurement, 5) Data analysis, and 6) Personal financial literacy.  For Grade 8, the TEKS added Two-dimensional shapes.



  1. High School

In High School, Grades 9-12, the Texas TEKS have separate courses for Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Precalculus.  These four courses serve as a good foundation for STEM careers, college study and careers in other fields. 


Other Texas TEKS Mathematics courses in High School include: Mathematical Models with Applications, Advanced Quantitative Reasoning, Independent Study in Mathematics, Discrete Mathematics for Problem Solving, and Statistics.  Also Texas offers the Advanced Placement Math courses (Statistics, Calculus AB, and Calculus BC), and International Baccalaureate (IB) Mathematical Studies.



When the 2015 Draft Nebraska Mathematics Standards are compared with the Texas TEKS Mathematics Standards, Nebraska’s Standards are woefully weak and inadequate


The shortcomings of the proposed Nebraska Math Standards are most pronounced at the High School level.  Under the proposed Nebraska Math Standards, Nebraska students will receive very little Algebra II, Geometry, Trigonometry, or Precalculus, and no Calculus.  Consequently, Nebraska High School graduates will not be prepared for college and careers!


Texas listed numerous standards under each of the courses (e.g., Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Precalculus).  By comparison, Nebraska does not even list the four grade levels in High School.  The contrast between Nebraska and Texas could not be much greater.




  1. The Correct Way to Develop Good Standards


Because I have criticized the existing and proposed Nebraska Standards, I believe it is important for me to offer some positive suggestions on how to do it the right way.


The first suggestion is to start with exemplary Type #1 Math Standards.  At the November 2013 Board Meeting, I suggested that the SBOE should adopt the Texas English (ELAR) Standards; I also suggested that Nebraska should utilize the Texas Standards for Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. 


At the January 2014 State Board Meeting, I mentioned that Omaha Public Schools is using the Common Core textbook Go Math!  Also my written report addressed the timeliness issue for the Nebraska Math Standards:

            The NDE timeline calls for presenting the first draft of the Mathematics Standards to the State Board of Education in March 2014.


Nebraska law requires that Standards must be reviewed every five years.  Because the current Math Standards were written in 2009, Nebraska is one year behind schedule on the 2015 Draft Mathematics Standards.  


The current Nebraska Mathematics Standards were approved in October 2009.  Strangely, the NDE website states the following:

            Nebraska Statute requires the Nebraska State Board of Education to update standards for each subject area every five years according to the following schedule:

            Language Arts – September 2014

            Mathematics – October 2010

            Science and Social Studies – November 2010

            Social Studies – December 2012



Clearly, the “Mathematics – October 2010” date is incorrect and should be changed to “Mathematics – October 2009.”


At the March 2014 Board Meeting, I detailed how Common Core has infiltrated into Nebraska schools through Common Core-aligned Math textbooks.  More importantly, I strongly advocated that Nebraska use the Saxon Math textbooks in our schools and described why Saxon Math is a great solution!



The NDE should assemble a writing team of experienced classroom teachers and educators, made up preferably of those who are currently in the classrooms each day.  Tell them that the final standards must be traditional, classical Type #1 standards.  Make sure that they clearly understand the differences between Type #1 and Type #2 educational philosophies. 



Focus on the six attributes of exemplary Type #1 state standards.  The standards must be: explicit, knowledge-based, academic, clearly-worded, grade-level specific, and measurable.  Do not let the writing team wander away from these basic tenets.  For example, do not let the standards fall into the Type #2 trap (how the student feels about something, the student’s opinion on an issue, personal beliefs, etc.).  Standards must be knowledge-based



Give the math writing teams the document mentioned previously (Texas Math-TEKS); and encourage the writing team to go through the document, pulling out the elements that would be good for Nebraska students. 



As the writing team is developing the standards, members must constantly be reminded to follow the six tenets of good Type #1 standards, checking constantly to see that proper scope and sequence are occurring within each grade level and between each grade level.




  1. Horizontal Format and Vertical Format


When the 2015 Draft Nebraska Mathematics Standards were released on 4.3.15, they were posted on the NDE website in Vertical Format only.  On 4.9.15, I sent a letter to Dr. Blomstedt (Commissioner of Education), Donlynn Rice (Curriculum Director), and Deb Romanek (Director of Mathematics Education), in which I stated:


            The Draft Standards are posted on the NDE website in Vertical Format; I urge you to also post the Draft Standards in Horizontal Format.  Reviewers must be able to follow the strands from one grade level to the next and follow the progression of concepts.  As I have requested before, it would also help some people to see the Standards in Word Format (the NDE website shows them in PDF format).


Because I had not received a response to my request, I sent a follow-up letter on 4.17.15, again asking for the Horizontal Format.  I stated:


            Publishing standards in the Vertical Format is the oldest trick in the book; this keeps people from seeing if the standards grow in depth and complexity from one grade level to the next grade level.  The Draft English Standards were posted in both Vertical and Horizontal Formats; and the Final Mathematics and English Standards are published in both formats.


On 4.21.15, I noticed that the NDE had posted the Draft Mathematics Standards in Horizontal Format.  I thanked Dr. Blomstedt on 4.21.15 for making this effort to facilitate our review of the Draft Math Standards.  For several days, the Horizontal Format carried a 4.20.15 date; this date was eliminated and the Standards now show only the 4.3.15 date.







Good standards are the key to improving educational outcomes, closing the achievement gap, and raising the graduation rates in Nebraska.



Experienced educators know that there are two basic philosophies of education — Type #1 and Type #2. 


Exemplary education standards must be Type #1!  


Even though the Draft Math Standards are improved over the previous Math Standards, the Draft Math Standards are deficient in many ways.


The Nebraska Math Standards will not prepare students for college and careers in STEM fields.


The Draft Nebraska Math Standards do not measure up very well with the Texas TEKS Math Standards.



Bio for Henry W. Burke


 Henry Burke is a Civil Engineer  with a B.S.C.E. and M.S.C.E.  He has been a Registered Professional Engineer (P.E.) for 37 years and has worked as a Civil Engineer in construction for over 40 years. 

Mr. Burke had a successful 27-year career with a large construction company. 

Henry Burke serves as a full-time volunteer to oversee various construction projects. He has written numerous articles on education, engineering, construction, politics, taxes, and the economy.


Henry W. Burke


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