Grade 4, 7, 8 Classrooms Needed for Mathematics Research

MetaMetrics is seeking participants for an upcoming research project investigating the difficulty of various aspects of mathematics problems.

We at MetaMetrics believe that assessment and instruction should be connected. Providing quality information about a student’s mathematics ability is a key component of one of MetaMetrics’ mottos: “Bringing Meaning to Measurement.” We continue to explore innovative relationships in the development of mathematics assessment through our research agenda.

As such, MetaMetrics is recruiting for our ongoing mathematics item difficulty research initiative. We are specifically looking for teachers of students in grades 4, 7, and 8 willing to administer a short set of mathematics items to their students using our online assessment delivery system.  The goals of the research include examining features that make items more or less challenging for students.

For more information, please visit https://goo.gl/mer2mp. Each teacher whose classroom participates in the study will receive a $75.00 Amazon gift card.

We look forward to working with you on this important study.

Another Vote That Parents Can Support Mathematics Instruction

Jason Zimba shared the struggle of helping their children on weeknights in spite of the busy schedules of the family members in his article “Can parents help with math homework? YES”. His article is encouraging for the hopeful parents who really want to help their children with their academic progress with his indications that such activities as flash cards, games, or just checking homework is a positive gesture to instill for the children the importance of success and gratification when they work hard in their studies.

As mathematics educators, others might think it is effortless for us to prepare activities, listen to our child’s methods for solving problems (even when we would do the problem differently), or sit down and check the answers in the homework. But I can testify as a mathematics educator that it all takes time, which I don’t have an abundance of, to prepare games, flash cards, puzzles or to check homework. In addition, it is also a struggle for us to listen, without interruption, while a child is explaining a process for solving a problem, particularly when the method is different from our own.

To help to expedite some of these responsibilities that might save the parents time and promote the child’s understanding of the math is to have the child prepare the flash cards. Certainly as parents we can check the cards, but the child can make the corrections and begin to memorize the material while working of the flash cards. Puzzles and activities in the child’s homework might get some creative juices flowing if the child is encouraged to make up a similar activity and then explain the rules to the parents. The child will begin to understand how important it is for directions or definitions to be clear. Some of this places the responsibility for developing and learning the material on the child.

But let’s not restrict the enjoyment of mathematics to homework assignments or puzzles that came from the classroom. Our jobs, games, and hobbies often involve mathematics as well. Sharing with the children where activities such as carpentry, sports, preparing spreadsheets, knitting, or cooking involves understanding measurement, fractions, formulas, proportions, statistics, or sequence characteristics. Families who play board games or card games are promoting logical or inferential thinking, as well as counting, probability, counting money, geometric relationships, or using percent. Teaching and sharing the function of mathematics in these pursuits will instill an appreciation and enjoyment of mathematics’ role in everyday activities.

Certainly our children need our support and sometimes instruction to complete homework and projects for school. We try to make reading fun by reading to our children or sharing enjoyable books. Science is often fun with minimal lab activities in our kitchen or backyard. Enjoying mathematics is in many places. It is just a matter of recognizing when we are using the math and sharing those moments with our children.

Bridging the Gap Between High School and the Work Force

While the focus on college and career readiness in our education system is not a new idea, and while progress has been made, students overall are still not adequately prepared for life after high school. According to research published last year by Achieve — a nonprofit education reform organization dedicated to raising academic standards and graduation requirements, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability — roughly half of all high schoolers report gaps in high school preparation and the working world.

High schoolers are not the only ones shouldering the consequences of this lack of preparation though. Employers across the country are agreeing that there is a disconnect between the skills that graduates have and the skills that they need. Common themes are lack of “soft skills” such as effective communication, team work, punctuality, etc., as well as a lack of knowledge in critical STEM areas such as basic math and science prerequisite skills. Scott McLemore, technical workforce development manager for Honda North America, Inc., has experienced this in his industry first-hand and discusses how, “There is a severe shortage of people entering the manufacturing field, so much so that it could eventually result in millions of jobs going unfilled due to either a lack of interest, or a lack of the required skills.”

So how do we go about building this bridge? One promising solution is through partnerships between high schools and institutions of higher education. An excellent example of this is P-TECH, a public high school in Brooklyn, NY. These partnerships have been made to meet the growing demand for job candidates with STEM skills. Through this model, students spend six years taking both standard high school courses and classes specifically focused on a certain profession. These credits can amount to an associate degree as well as an industry-specific certification upon graduation. The goal is to have students earn college credit sooner while simultaneously gaining hands on experience. The result of this has been nothing short of optimistic. For example, in 2014 the four-year high school graduation rate for early college students in New York was 86.9 percent, compared with the citywide average of 68.4 percent, and of 205 seniors who graduated this past year, 57 earned an associate degree.

MetaMetrics is an educational measurement organization. Our renowned psychometric team develops scientific measures of student achievement that link assessment with targeted instruction to improve learning.