Questions from Family Math Night:
Q: I have heard that Common Core State Standards (CCSS) means more kids will be father behind by high school graduation (i.e. maybe in algebra, not pre-calculus). Is this true?
A: While it IS the case that one of the main desired outcomes of the CCSS is to provide greater focus on fewer topics (providing depth of understanding), this should not limit the educational opportunities for students in our secondary schools. In fact, the deeper understanding provided by this approach should better prepare students to be successful as they move on to advanced mathematics. Secondary students these days have multiple opportunities to take advanced math curricula, including concurrent enrollment with local colleges.
Q: What countries are we being compared with [when comparing math scores internationally]?
A: The National Center for Educational Statistics reports the results of the Trends in International Math and Science Survey (TIMSS). Comparisons are made at grades 4 and 8 with 58 other countries. The United States sits near the average (mean), internationally, but this is misleading because so much of the world is underdeveloped. We compare ourselves most usefully with other developed nations. Finland, Japan, Northern Ireland, England, Russian Federation, Singapore, China, Honk Kong, Belgium and Korea all scored higher at 4th grade than did the United States. Below are links to sites with more information. The globalreportcard.com site is particularly user-friendly.
Q: With the new [standards-based] grading systems, does 4, 3, 2, 1 equal Advanced, Proficient, Partially Proficient, etc.?
A: Not exactly, and not by design, but there are similarities. Here in Colorado we have become familiar with these proficiency labels because they were used in the CSAP/TCAP assessment systems. Because our state assessments (CSAP/TCAP and now PARCC) are aligned to state standards, as is our new grading/reporting model in math, these proficiency terms provide some understanding of what the numerical values are reporting. The reason it is not a perfect match is because the CSAP/TCAP tests and proficiency standards are based on scaled scores, which is a system not currently in place for grade reporting at the district level.
Q: How much time each night should be dedicated to homework?
A: A good rule of thumb is that it should be ~10 minutes per grade level, so Kindergarten would be 0-10, and 5th grade would be ~50-60. Homework is designed to be a reinforcement and practice of skills taught and learned at school. It should not be new learning and it should not be overly frustrating. If your child is frustrated or taking considerably longer than these guidelines describe, please talk to her/his teacher.
Q: If a child has a learning disability do they need to “make standards” to pass the grade?
A: It depends on the nature and severity of the diagnosed learning disability. Most students who have been diagnosed with a learning disability are receiving support and accommodations to meet the grade level curricula, while also working on their specific Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals. For these students, their grade reports will reflect their accurate level of mastery in math. These students will also receive a report of progress toward their IEP goals at every grade reporting period.
To access the presentations/materials our teacher used at Family Math Night, please click here. You will also find a link to Mr. Davis’ PowerPoint presentation. We hope you find these useful.