The Common Core makes simple math more complicated. Here’s why.

Libby Nelson:

You might not know what a number sentence is. Neither does Stephen Colbert, who recently suggested “word equation” and “formula paragraph” as nonsensical synonyms.

But millions of American students soon will. Math education is in the middle of big changes — including new ways of learning that might frustrate parents even more than students.

The Common Core state standards, now in place in 44 states, will require that elementary school kids not just to know how to subtract, multiply and divide, but to understand what they’re doing and why.

That means more number sentences — the term, if you’re curious, just means “equations” — and other unfamiliar concepts, like area multiplication and number line subtraction.