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Third-grader's math assignment reignites debate over Common Core standards

A teacher's response to a third-grader's math homework has gone viral and left parents debating the Common Core math standards across the country.
/ Source: TODAY

In the latest national debate over Common Core math standards, 5 x 3 = controversy.

A third-grader's homework assignment that went viral after it was posted online by a parent has reignited questions about Common Core thanks to a teacher's response to the student's answer to the question, "What's 5x3?"

The student wrote that the answer is 15 because "five plus five plus five equals 15," but it was marked wrong because of the way the student arrived at the answer. The teacher indicated that the student should have also added five threes together.

The new math methods have left some parents scratching their heads and even math tutors having to adjust.

"I absolutely had to relearn a lot of things,'' private tutor Denise Hanley told Sheinelle Jones on TODAY Thursday. "Not just relearn, but just learn in general these new methods I had never learned before."

"When my kids need help, I am unable to help them, which is very frustrating,'' parent Stacy Francis told Jones.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is in use in 42 states after being launched in 2009 by the National Governors Association to focus more on critical thinking and less on memorization.

"As the information age continues to blossom, kids are going to need those sets of skills, so we're really preparing kids for a future that isn't here yet,'' Dr. Raymond Hart, director of research at the Council of the Great City Schools, said on TODAY.

The debate has crossed into the political realm, with some supporting it and others calling for it to be scrapped.

"If we are going to complete in this world we're in today, there is no possible way we can do it with lowering expectation and dumbing down everything,'' Republican candidate Jeb Bush said during the latest GOP debate.

The latest national testing of fourth-and-eighth-grade math skills resulted in a decline in scores for the first time in 25 years, according to the Nation's Report Card, adding fuel to the controversy. Defenders of Common Core claim the decline is because federal testing is not keeping up with Common Core's rigorous standards.

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.