The 2015 Summer Math Challenge Added Up to Success

The 2015 Quantile Summer Math Challenge drew to a close at the end of last week. The Summer Math Challenge is a free math-skills maintenance program developed by the team behind the Quantile® Framework for Mathematics. For six weeks each summer, registered parents receive daily emails with fun activities and links to resources designed to help their students retain the math skills learned during the previous school year. This year’s Summer Math Challenge was a huge success and saw the greatest number of participants so far, with a 30% increase in registration over last year. Thousands of parents and children from all 50 states participated. We are truly grateful for all the support.

As a reward for those who completed the challenge, a personalized Summer Math Challenge Award Certificate is offered for download. The certificate celebrates students’ hard work and summarizes the concepts reviewed during the Summer Math Challenge. Additionally we provide a Summer Math Challenge Teacher Letter to pass along once school starts back. This letter provides your child’s teacher with additional information about the Summer Math Challenge, the Quantile Framework, and how to use the tools available on Quantiles.com.

Missed out on the Summer Math Challenge this year? Registration for the next challenge is always available. We’ll be working all year to make the 2016 Summer Math Challenge even better! Until then, please visit Quantiles.com to explore the many other free resources available to parents and educators. If you have any questions about the Summer Math Challenge or the Quantile Framework, please contact us by visiting quantiles.desk.com.

MetaMetrics and Departments of Education Team Up to Combat Summer Learning Loss!

This summer MetaMetrics has partnered with twenty two state departments of education to fight summer learning loss. Since 2012 MetaMetrics, in conjunction with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), has offered the “Chief’s Summer Learning Challenge” to freely support departments of education in order to create and sustain state-led summer reading initiatives. A few years later, MetaMetrics launched a sister program, the “Summer Math Challenge” (SMC).

Summer learning is a beloved, annual project among MetaMetrics staffers. It’s the brainchild of Malbert Smith, Ph.D., the president and co-founder of MetaMetrics, who recognizes that providing free tools to prevent kids from going home to text and resource free environments is a vital endeavor to combating summer learning loss. Dr. Smith also serves on the National Summer Learning Association’s Board of Directors.

“Summer learning loss is not just a problem facing children of low-income families, it is an epidemic across America that affects all students,” stated Dr. Malbert Smith. “For example, all students on average lose approximately 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation over the summer months each year. Such unfortunate statistics qualify a call to action. When we launched the Chief’s Challenge, it was thrilling to see state chiefs positively respond and take action in their states. Even more rewarding are my trips to states’ summer learning launch parties and promotional events. Seeing our young learners rallied and excited to kick off summer learning compels our passion to keep fighting learning loss and to continue our efforts year after year.”

One of the free tools offered for reading is the popular, Lexile-based book search tool, “Find a Book.” “Find a Book” allows readers to search for titles targeted to their reading ability and personal interests, and then to locate those titles at their local library. States can work with MetaMetrics to personalize a “Find a Book” landing page for their students to visit over the summer months. To incentivise the reading challenge, MetaMetrics posts a Summer Reading Pledge. When readers submit their reading pledge they are entered into a drawing to win a Barnes & Noble gift card.

On the math side of MetaMetrics summer learning opportunities is a free, Quantile-based resource that keeps kids practicing their math skills for six weeks over the summer. The SMC is a math skills maintenance program targeted to students who have just completed grade 2 through 6. Parents who enroll their child will receive daily emails with fun activities that are targeted to their child’s Quantile level (mathematical ability) and links to educational resources. For more information about MetaMetrics summer learning opportunities, visit www.lexile.com or www.Quantiles.com.

Dr. Malbert Smith speaks to North Carolina students at Give Five—Read Five summer 2015’s kick off event. Photo credit: North Carolina Department of Public Instruction

Dr. Malbert Smith speaks to North Carolina students at Give Five—Read Five summer 2015’s kick off event. Photo credit: North Carolina Department of Public Instruction

Teachers: Help Us Improve the Quantile Framework and Earn $$$ for Your Class

MetaMetrics is currently recruiting 3rd grade classrooms to participate in a study to examine mathematics items. We hope you will consider participating in this study. We will give a $25.00 Barnes and Noble gift card to each teacher whose classroom participates in the study AND a $50.00 American Express gift card to go toward a “pizza(teacher choice)” party for the class to thank students and teachers for participating in the study.

Click here for more information about the study.

Please visit here to complete the short interest information form for your class.   Class participation is on a first-come, first-served basis, so we encourage you to respond soon. Multiple teachers within one school or district will be considered, but each teacher does need to complete the information form.

Promoting Life-Long Learning in Mathematics

Learning mathematics requires deep-rooted intrinsic motivation, motivation to learn, to problem solve, and to discover the best methods for solving those problems.  When we, as educators, attempt to offer doing well on assessments or being prepared for college algebra as intrinsic motivators, we often find that the results are marginal and superficial.

The role of mathematics educators is to promote reflective practices that promote connections within the realm of mathematics, as well as prepare students for the mathematical elements that are the foundation of so many aspects of the daily lives of citizens, consumers, and workers in their communities.

Mathematics teachers need as much training as possible promote discussion and reflection in their math lessons. Some considerations for best practices include the following:

  • Rather than expecting the teacher be the source of knowledge, a mathematics classroom should offer opportunities for the students to explore, collaborate, and make decisions on methods to solve problems. Such guided interaction among the students will add excitement to the development of student problem-solvers.
  • Instructional feedback needs to be more than whether the answer is right or wrong. Students need guidance on which elements of the process were misguided, help with identifying the flaws in judgment, and what adjustments need to be made. In solving most puzzles, we need to step back and determine where we are missing some information or going in a wrong direction. Working in the mathematics classroom can offer the similar intangible gratification when the problem is solved.
  • Problems can be solved using different approaches. Allow time for students to discuss in whole group activities or in small groups to share the different methods and styles of thinking. In the social studies or science classrooms, many discussions lead to the phrase “I never thought of it like that.” Sharing tactics in the mathematics classroom can certainly lead to such discoveries, also.

In order to develop mathematics classrooms that foster reflection, discussion, engagement, and discovery, math educators should be trained at every level. Teachers without strong insights about the reasons for the various algorithms in mathematics will not have the confidence to promote dialogue that might go in unexpected directions. Even the teachers in the lower grades need to understand how topics in mathematics are interwoven so that “math talk” promotes that connectivity. Students who become engaged in learning become life-long learners. This should be the case in all content areas, including mathematics.

It’s Just A Game?

We all know kids love video games but how effective are they? A study of 88 second graders that were divided into 3 groups to determine the effectiveness of on line games. One group was to play a game for a 3 week period, while another group had to solve similar math exercises on paper, and the last group had no assignment. The students were given an electronic test before and after the test period. The results showed  the students that played the games had a 6% increase in scores, the students that did the paper exercises had a 4% increase in scores, and the group that had no assignment had a 2% increase. In addition, the group that played the games as well as the group that did the paper exercises solved the test 30% faster than the first time, while the group with no assignment was only 10% faster. A parent survey showed that students that played the interactive game described the activity as “fun, exciting, and fantastic” 80% more often than the paper exercise and 60% of them wanted to play more.

This study supports the importance and effectiveness of our own Summer Math Challenge and other resources that are provided on the Quantile.com website. If we can find interactive games that “hook” students we can improve math skills and maybe change the way some students view math. Visit our page http://quantiles.com/ to view the free resources we have available for all students.

Coming Soon: The New Quantiles.com Website

MetaMetrics®  is pleased to announce that the redesigned Quantiles.com will be released on March 14, 2013. The site has been given an all-inclusive makeover, complete with a brand new look and feel, improved navigation and tablet and mobile compatibility.

The new Quantiles.com will feature:

  • A slick, crisp, design
  • Tablet and mobile compatibility
  • New content and images
  • Redesigned tools such as the “Math Skills Database” and “Textbook Search” featuring improved functionality

In addition to these new site features, we are excited to announce “The Summer Math Challenge” a six-week, e-mail-based initiative designed to combat summer math loss. The initiative, based on the Common Core State Standards, will target students who have just completed grades 2 through 5. Parents will receive emails with resources and activities designed to help their kids retain the math skills learned during the previous school year.

We’d like to invite you to witness the unveiling of the new Quantiles.com first hand. Join us March 14, from 3 to 4 PM EDT, and you just might win free pie! Three lucky people who participate in our “Happy Pi Day… Introducing the New Quantiles.com” webinar will receive gift certificates for a free pie shipped nationwide from Porch Pies in Los Angeles, CA. For more information about the webinar, click here. Register today!

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Scholastic Math Inventory Receives High Marks

The National Center for Response to Instruction (NCRTI) rated the Scholastic Math Inventory (SMI) with highest marks for validity and reliability as a progress monitoring tool.  Progress monitoring allows educators to better understand student achievement over time, which is often difficult.  Many assessment tools may diagnose specific topics in which students struggle but often do not provide sufficient feedback to help educators monitor student growth over time or inform their instruction.

Response to Intervention is a methodology for identifying and providing timely intervention for struggling students.  With funding from the US Department of Education, the American Institutes for Research and researchers from Vanderbilt University and the University of Kansas formed NCRTI to assist states and districts in implementing proven Response to Intervention strategies.  NCRTI rated SMI as offering “convincing evidence” for the following areas:

•             Reliable performance level score

•             Valid performance level score

•             Availability of alternate forms

•             Sensitivity to student improvement

•             End-of-year benchmarks identification

•             Rates of improvement specification

SMI provides computer-adaptive benchmark assessments for students beginning in grade two through a first course in Algebra. Each time a student completes an assessment, SMI provides a student with a metric called a Quantile® measure.  Because all of the assessments, from grade two through Algebra I, use the same Quantile metric, this student measure can be used by teachers to monitor student growth, not only within a school year but also from year to year.

The student measure also helps teachers analyze students’ readiness for instruction on mathematics skills and concepts.  The Quantile® Framework for Mathematics also provides Quantile measures for individual skills and concepts taught in grades two through Algebra I (and actually more than that – kindergarten through high school).  A teacher can use the measure of the concept being taught in comparison with the student measure to gain insight as to whether the student is ready for instruction on that particular topic.  If the student measure does not match with the measure of the skill or concept, the teacher can identify other related topics with measures that do match.  The measure provided by the SMI assessment can be used to target instruction and provide students with related material for which the student is prepared.

The Quantile Framework can work with most mathematics assessments to provide a student Quantile measure.  Please visit the Quantile website to see the instruments  that currently report Quantile measures.

Policy Brief: Achieving Success in Mathematics

MetaMetrics recently released a policy brief on the mathematical education issues now facing our nation’s students.  Written by MetaMetrics President and Co-founder Malbert Smith, and Director of Professional Development,  Jason Turner,  A Mathematical Problem: How to Help Students Achieve Success in Mathematics Through College and Beyond examines what it means to be college and career ready in mathematics and the dire consequences of being unprepared for the mathematical demands of life after high school:

Many U.S. students graduate unprepared for the challenges they will likely face in college and careers. This unpreparedness not only portends significant academic challenges, but increasingly dire consequences at both the individual- and macro-economic levels. At the individual level, students may find themselves unable to compete academically and miss out on employment opportunities in some of today’s fastest growing career sectors. At the macro level, poor mathematics performance suggests an alarming outlook for our country’s competitiveness in the international arena.

We encourage you to read this policy brief as it details more than just the problems we face — Smith and Turner also discuss the solution. The Common Core State Standards provide a map for getting students college-and-career-ready. Forty-seven states already adopted these standards. The next phase is implementation. How will educators apply the Common Core State Standards in the classroom? Smith and Turner discuss the wealth of free resources available at http://www.quantiles.com/, one such resource is Math@Home. We welcome you to explore The Quantile Framework for Mathematics and learn about all the online tools it has to offer.

Want to subscribe to our policy briefs? Visit www.Lexile.com and click on Register in the top right corner. Be sure to check the box next to News Releases!

Pushing Through to the Top

Interesting take over at Scholastic Math Hub on what the common core portends for the publishing world.  Hung-Hsi Wu, a math professor at UC-Berkeley, has argued that the common core offers a unique opportunity to publishers – the opportunity to recreate far more effective mathematics textbooks, textbooks which capture which capture the depth and richness of the new standards.  Specifically, Wu is hoping for textbooks that capture the inter-relatedness of all math content:

Preparing to teach proper school mathematics is not about learning a craft, but, rather, a discipline that is cognitively complex and hierarchical.  Each topic, no matter how basic, is essential to some future topic.

Wu’s right.  And the interconnectedness of each strand is well illustrated by the Quantile Framework, which not only places student and task difficulty on the same scale, but also provides the prerequisite skills for each and every math skill and concept.  We share Wu’s hope that the common core will provide the impetus for richer and more comprehensive math textbooks.

Digital Promise: Math for Every Student

Tip of the hat to Scholastic’s Math Hub for posting this piece on the state of technology in math education.  Though many math educators report still relying on a basal textbook, many more are employing a variety of digital resources to help reach struggling math students:

On average, math teachers reported spending more than one full class period per week using digital tools or content, and many spent significantly more time utilizing technology. Specifically, among teachers who report using digital content or tools during more then 26% of class time (high digital use), the highest percentages are remedial math teachers and grades 6-8 math teachers. The most commonly used digital tool is interactive whiteboards. Teachers considered interactive whiteboards to be the most important supplemental material in addition to textbooks. This demand for whiteboards is a change from 2008 when interactive whiteboards were not even part of the survey. Math teachers and educators value the “faster reporting” and “detailed student/class information” generated by computer-based programs, features that traditional textbooks and workbooks cannot provide.

What many math educators have discovered is that moving from whole-class instruction to differentiating for struggling students requires going beyond the textbook to solutions that harness technology to adapt and respond to a student’s learning trajectory.  Technology of that sort can take multiple forms, but some important features include the ability to individualize for a student’s needs, provide supplemental resources, and multiple explanations for math skills and concepts.  As many educators now understand, one size does not fit all when it comes to math instruction; and ensuring that students graduate ready for the mathematical demands of the post-secondary world entails matching student math ability to the level of the lesson. 

At MetaMetrics, we’ve attempted to harness technology to supplement and strengthen student math ability through Math at Home.  Math at Home serves as a portal for matching students to targeted math resources across a variety of mediums.  Because each student has a different preferred learning modality, Math at Home offers online resources, video tutorials, skill practice sites, literature guides, games, and hand’s-on activities – a wide variety of resources to keep students engaged in math activity.  But Math at Home is more than a mere portal.  There are plenty of activity portals widely available.  What distinguishes Math at Home from other student portals is the Quantile Framework.  Math at Home uses the student’s Quantile measure to establish the student’s math level.  The list of available resources differs for each student and is based on their Quantile measure, or math level.  Additionally, Math at Home utilizes a large database of textbooks to match students with resources of their choice based on their current textbook lesson, but at their own math level.  If you haven’t already tried it, be sure to take a look.

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.