The Difference Between Singapore MOE Maths and Common Core

Image of child using graph book for maths.

The math program from the Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE) has powered Singaporean school children to the top of global math benchmarks The Singapore MOE Maths vs. Common Core debate has been going on for some time. It may sound like a buzzword or the latest trend around schools, but these two mathematics standards have a foundational effect on the way children are taught in schools.

What exactly are these standards? Find information about each and see what makes Singapore MOE Maths different from Common Core.

Singapore MOE Maths vs. Common Core Explained

Learner doing Common Core maths sum on a large whiteboard.

Singapore Maths

The math curriculum developed by the Singapore Ministry of Education (Singapore MOE maths) has demonstrated such striking effectiveness in bolstering children’s math competencies that it has been adopted by other countries like Israel, Canada, and the United States.

The way Singapore MOE Maths is taught compared to Common Core is via a set of mathematical principles based on a method by an American psychologist, Jerome Bruner. This method is known as the CPA method, which stands for concrete, pictorial, and abstract. It is a learning approach that uses tactile and visual aids to help learners easily grasp abstract concepts.

Common Core

Common Core is a set of standards for maths, language arts, and literacy in the United States. Developed in 2009 by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), it was released in 2010.

Singapore MOE Maths vs. Common Core: The Differences

There is one fundamental difference when assessing these two learning standards. Because it focuses more on understanding concepts through hands-on activities rather than rote memorization of facts, students of Singapore MOE Maths are better able to understand how mathematical concepts relate to one another, unlike with Common Core. The latter focuses more on teaching students how to solve problems via repetition and massive loads of content but often lacks creativity in its problem-solving approach.

Singapore MOE Maths vs. Common Core: Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages of Singapore MOE Maths Over Common Core

Singapore MOE Maths Develops Problem Solving Skills

Students learning Singapore MOE Maths are taught to develop problem-solving skills, rather than rote memorization skills.

Singapore MOE Maths has a Focus on Mastery

With an emphasis on mastery, students learn to master a few concepts a year and build on them in the following academic year. This helps them build a deeper and conceptual understanding of maths as a whole.

Singapore MOE Maths has Easier Learning Materials Without Compromising Quality

When looking at Singapore MOE maths vs. Common Core, the learning materials of Singapore maths are often easier to read with clear and simple images.

Singapore MOE Maths Develops Mental Maths Skills

Learners of the Singapore MOE Maths system practice mental math from a young age. Students are often able to do maths in their heads without having to rely on a pen and paper or a calculator. It helps them gain a sense of number and place value, which are important foundational skills.

Singapore MOE Maths Uses Concrete, Pictorial, and Abstract (CPA) Method for vs. Common Core

The use of the CPA method by American psychologist, Jerome Bruner helps bridge the gap between concrete and abstract concepts through the use of visual aids, like buttons and coins. Visual learners in particular, who may find Common Core math to be challenging can benefit from the use of visual representation in Singapore MOE Maths.

Common Core May Not Accommodate Visual Learners

As maths concepts can be difficult for some learners, students who have a primarily visual learning style may not benefit from Common Core maths teaching methods which skip pictorial means to bridge the gap.

Singapore MOE Maths Sets a Growth Mindset

In contrast to the skills taught and developed in Common Core, students learning Singapore Maths are encouraged to develop a growth mindset. This helps learners foster the belief that they can improve their skills and behavior through effort. At Maths@Singapore, we incorporate the pedagogical approach of Singapore’s Ministry of Education. Not only is this an important skill to learn in one’s studies, but it applies to all areas of life.

Disadvantages of Singapore MOE Maths

Continuous Development is Required of Teachers in Singapore Maths 

Compared to Common Core, Singapore MOE maths requires its teachers to undergo continuous and extensive training. Here at Maths@Singapore, our teachers hold professional teaching certifications from the National Institute of Education (NIE), or are qualified to teach in Singapore MOE elementary schools.

Common Core has a More Conceptual Focus vs Singapore MOE Maths

The Singapore MOE maths curriculum focuses less on applied maths as in the case of US Common Core.

Common Core is Widely Taught in the US

Common Core mathematics is taught in schools across the United States.

Common Core Does Not Require As Much Training

Compared to Singapore MOE maths, Common Core does not require the level of training required by teachers of Singapore maths.

Final Thoughts on Singapore MOE Maths vs. Common Core

The Singapore MOE maths approach often outshines Common Core and other typical methods of teaching. Unlike Common Core, which focuses on drilling and rote memorization, Singapore MOE maths teaches students understanding on a deeper level. This helps them understand how to arrive at certain answers and why this is the way.

With learners who study Singapore MOE maths outperforming their counterparts who do not learn the curriculum, it makes sense why this approach is highly ranked worldwide.

That said, the best maths program for your child may depend on what you would like for them to achieve. If you want them to master maths and become a better problem solver, then learning Singapore MOE Maths is your best bet.

Contact us today to give your child the skills and tools needed to excel at and master maths. Thanks to our rigorous program and dedicated teachers, US students can benefit from learning the curriculum. Sign up for 2 free classes and discover how Singapore MOE Maths at Maths@Sinapore can make all the difference in your child’s maths education.