Ever since my kids went back to school from spring break they have been cramming for the upcoming standardized tests they are having next week. The CRCT (Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests ) is a HUGE deal to the teachers and administrators at our schools. Georgia is ranked extremely low when it comes to education in this country and our newspaper last week reported some shockingly bad graduation rates in our local high schools. They really push these standardized test as a way to measure improvement in the schools. I disagree that a child’s intelligence and a school’s performance can all be measured by standardized tests but unless I am willing to homeschool my kids, they have to suffer through them.
Standardized Tests: A measure of success?
I have always taken an active interest in my kid’s education and spend a fair amount of time over the summer teaching them things that are NOT found on any standardized test. We have done units on art and learned the Greek alphabet. We do science experiments and read books like the Odyssey, The Swiss Family Robinson, and Helen Keller. When daddy went to Thailand we learned about the country, it’s religion, and even went out to a Thai restaurant for dinner. There are so many things that are NOT taught on standardized tests that are still worth learning!
This summer our focus for my daughter is going to be math! She is in the gifted math class and skipped a grade but I am regretting that decision quite a bit since she seems to be struggling more than usual. We will be cramming fractions, decimals, and long division into our days this summer in hopes that next year will come a little easier to her! If your child is struggling in math, here are a few key ideas on how to improve their performance. Whether your child has to take standardized tests or not, math is one subject Americans in general seem to struggle with!
1. Music Lessons: My daughter takes piano lessons and you would be amazed at how many times she has to use fractions to determine the beat of the music. Half rests and quarter notes are drummed into her head by her music teacher and she doesn’t even realize that she is doing math!
2. Math in the kitchen: My kids love to cook and reading recipes is a great way to improve a child’s comprehension of math. 1 cup of milk is the same as 8 ounces, one pound of chicken equals 16 ounces, etc. Get out your kitchen scale and have your kids measure the weight of things. Read the cereal box to see how many ounces of Cheerios there are in one box. My daughter’s practice exams for the standardized tests keep asking her things like ‘how many grams would a dog weight?’ Well, how is she supposed to know that if she has no clue how much 15 grams looks like?
3. Check out your local teachers store! We have a store around here called The School Box and they offer a great selection of educational math games, workbooks, flash cards, etc. You will usually see right on the package the age group it is designed for and which math skills you will be helping improve.
4. Math resources online: There are a ton of great websites that offer math programs for struggling students. You can have them play online games or print out lots of worksheets to help work on certain skills.
5. Talk to your child’s teacher: Don’t let your child fall too far behind! Talk to your child’s teacher early in the school year and let them know you want to be an active part of your child’s education. Look at the work they bring home and make sure they are correcting any answers they got wrong. Study with them, look at their book and material so you know what they are learning about and then talk to them! Have them explain math concepts to you and show YOU how to do the problems! Teaching others is a great way to reinforce the material!
While I don’t agree that standardized tests are a great way to measure math success they are a necessary evil if you expect your child to graduate and go to college. Unfortunately, colleges place a very heavy emphasis on standardized tests when picking who gets into their schools!
If you want to stay up to date on how our country’s schools are doing, check out the U.S. Department of Education. You can also find information on their site for college funding, grants, and current school policies. There is also a fair amount of information on standardized tests if you would like to learn more about them!