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Common Core Problem Goes Viral

Even an Engineer Can't Solve This Second-Grade Math Problem

Parents often find themselves helping children with their homework, and once in a while even the adults struggle to solve a difficult problem. One parent, however, was so stumped by his child's homework that he took his frustration to the Internet. The father, Jeff Severt, was trying to help his second-grade son with a math equation that incorporates the new Common Core standards. The problem asks students to help "Jack," a fictional student who used a number line to find the answer to the subtraction problem 427-316. The students must write a letter to Jack explaining what he did right and what he did wrong. Severt, who has a bachelor's degree in engineering, says he spent two hours trying to help his son solve that one problem before giving up and writing an apologetic letter to Jack.

Critics of Common Core education say this problem is a prime example of the standards being "nonsensical and stupid." With this particular assignment, critics say it turned a simple assignment into "a complex endeavor with a series of unnecessary steps."

To see what creators of the Common Core standards have to say about the equations, read the full story on The Huffington Post.

This post was originally published on April 1, 2014.

The-Momsson1398047858 The-Momsson1398047858 3 years

I doubt your math skills....

MalindiMay MalindiMay 3 years

I disagree with the dad. This is a concept that helps children learn WHY 427-316=111. However, I see why the child and the dad were confused. The line for subtracting the 10s place looks almost identical to the lines for subtracting the 1s placeThe problem is not with Common Core Math, it's the PICTURE of the number line!

LisaSchumacher10432 LisaSchumacher10432 3 years

I've seen this floating around on Facebook. As a 3rd grade teacher, my district has been teaching with the Common Core standards for three years now and my students have a much better understanding of math than they ever did in the past. What I would love to say back to this parent is that their son should know how to solve this problem because I'm sure the teacher had TAUGHT THIS SKILL IN CLASS! Students are given plenty of opportunities to practice a skill before they are assessed on it. The parent was not taught the skill, therefore he shouldn't be expected to be able to solve the problem. I think this is a great math problem and students should have no problem solving it if they focused and paid attention when the teacher was TEACHING it.

KaylaBreazeale KaylaBreazeale 3 years

Absolutely agree!! I'm so aggravated that everyone has jumped onto the engineer's side when it's obviously that neither he, nor "Jack", nor his own child followed the directions appropriately. And I remember learning number lines over 20 years ago, I'm pretty sure it's not an issue of common core, though everyone wants to label it as such so the anti-CC bandwagon will jump all over it. The engineer is a smart-alick, and apparently a dumb one at that. Plain and simple.
: )

Maggie1360786327 Maggie1360786327 3 years

I'm not an engineer. I haven't even finished college. Math is not my strong suit. That being said, this problem is not overcomplicated in the least. "Jack" used a number line to count back as a manner of solving a subtraction problem. "Jack" forgot to count back the tens place value. The point of this assignment is to teach the student to be able to spot mistakes in the process of a subtraction problem and then explain how to correct the mistake in the process. Not that complicated.

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