Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What does this math assessment really tell us?

Remember when I described Soccer Mom Monday syndrome?  Well, it has been more like Soccer Mom Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week.  Sadly, my daughter's team lost in the quarter-finals of the state tournament, so I won't have any more weekends devoted to offering positive reinforcements from the sidelines for a while.

Despite my optimistic post from Friday, we are more than a bit swamped here school-wise.  It is catch up time and we're not caught up yet, although Ginger made a big dent today. 

I did come across an interesting post today from Maria Miller of Mammoth Math that I want to share and use as a spring board for thoughtful discussion.

I really appreciate the work Maria has done with Mammoth Math; it is becoming one of my favorite programs for is economy and comprehensiveness.  I also enjoy Maria's blog because she shares videos of herself teaching difficult and interesting topics as well as links to other resources in the math cyberworld.    This week's post links to a particularly valuable resource for parents.

Parent's often wonder exactly where their child is in the general scope and sequence of mathematics.   Different programs have content specific assessments to let you know where your child would place in their curriculum.  This is valuable if you have decided to purchase and use that curriculum.   However, it doesn't help the parent looking for a more general assessment of math achievement.   Maria has found and posted a link to an online assessment.   Click here to view the company providing this assessment and take the test yourself.

This benchmark assessment is based on Massachusetts because the students from this state (as a group) scored higher than the national average in math on a nationally standardized test.   In fact the top five states were all New England states (but not New York).    It appears that this company may be developing some type of math online program to help students who need to improve their math scores for standardized assessments - but I'm just guessing at that.  I noticed that the assessment is in beta testing.

I just took this test for the 10th grade level; actually, I completed most of the test and it took me almost an hour to do it.   The full test is 36 questions and I held up at question 30.   I skipped two questions (so far)because I couldn't remember the necessary formula and I made an educated guess on two more that required knowledge rather than the ability to perform an operation. I have tutored math through trigonometry, though it has been a few years since I last worked as a tutor.   Mmmmmm..... I wonder how my student would do on this test? (Thankfully, you can close the test and return to finish it by providing an email address.  I'm hoping for better results with a fresh start in the morning.)

Here is what I noticed about this test.  Most of the questions seemed algebra I and geometry level, as they should for a 10th grade test.  The geometry questions required me to remember formulas and I confess I can't remember the area formula for parallelograms or the volume formulas for pyramids and cones.  Boo.....

A great many of the questions didn't require such difficult math operations as much they required solid reasoning and a firm grip on discerning patterns in number sequences.   I noticed too that there were quite a few questions with probability - mean, mode and even whisker plots.  The algebra questions required an automatic understanding of the relationship between functions - which is far different from just working the problems as they might be presented on a worksheet.

This gives me some concern for our students.   I'll talk more about that tomorrow (click to read that post here) and the rest of the week.  I want to say at the outset that I invite your comments on this important topic.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Diane!

    I am one of the founders of LexxLearn. Thank you so much for reviewing us on your blog! I am happy to answer/address any questions you or your readers may have regarding LexxLearn. We intend to add other domestic and international standards in the future. You can reach me directly by emailing me at shuba at