National Summer Learning Day

Today, July 14th, marks National Summer Learning Day, an annual advocacy day created by the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) to bring attention the importance of keeping kids learning over summer break. Each year students grow in their reading and mathematics abilities during the academic school year. However, some of that learning can fade away over the summer months. This phenomenon is called “summer learning loss” and is well documented by researchers. Here at MetaMetrics, we strive to fight summer learning loss by providing free online tools designed to promote reading, maintain math skills and inspire summer learning.

Jump start summer reading with “Find a Book“. The Lexile “Find a Book” tool lets you search our extensive database for books within your reader’s Lexile range. Enter your Lexile measure, then narrow your search by selecting topics that interest your reader. You can also use the tool to check the availability of books at your local library or purchase titles from major booksellers. When using “Find a Book”, don’t forget to submit your Summer Reading Pledge and download our new Summer Reading Log.

Keep math skills sharp with the Quantile Summer Math Challenge, a math skills maintenance program based on grade-level standards that help prepare students for college and careers. The program is targeted to students entering grades 2-8 next fall and is designed to help students retain math skills learned during the previous school year. The Summer Math Challenge lasts for six weeks and focuses on one math concept per week. From June 20th through July 29th this year parents will receive daily emails with fun activities and links to educational resources.  Missed the Summer Math Challenge this year? Register any time and receive reminders for next year.

Kansas Partners With MetaMetrics to Add Quantile Measures to Statewide Assessment

We are pleased to announce the expansion of our partnership with the Kansas State Department of Education. For five years, students in grades 3 through 8 and 10, have received Lexile® measures from the Kansas Reading Assessment. Beginning in the fall of 2016, students will receive both Lexile and Quantile® student measures from the Kansas Assessment Program (KAP).

To report a Quantile measure from the KAP, MetaMetrics will complete an initial research study to link the Kansas test to the Quantile scale. Over the past twenty years, MetaMetrics has engaged in more than 100 studies in 25 states and 24 countries to link assessments to the Lexile or Quantile scale. The KSDE’s reporting of Quantile measures also connects students and teachers with free resources like the Find Your Textbook tool,Math Skills Database, Math@Home® and the Quantile® Teacher Assistant. Kansas continues to use Lexile and Quantile tools in their summer learning efforts year after year. This summer marks the first year that the state has used the Quantile Summer Math Challenge to encourage mathematics practice during the summer months.

Read more about our latest partnership!

Productive Failure

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Babies learn to walk in this way. Preschoolers learn to button, tie, and zip to dress themselves in this manner. However, the idiom can now apply even after children enter school. In the article, “How ‘Productive Failure’ In Math Class Helps Make Lessons Stick,” Katrina Schwartz explains that productive failure is not just the idea that persistence pays off. Rather productive failure is an effective teaching strategy that involves “careful lesson design, a strong classroom culture and an instructor trained in getting results from small failures so his or her students succeed when it matters.”

The idea is that teachers are trained to develop math tasks that students will not be able to solve but that evoke a students’ prior knowledge relating to the task. Teachers also receive training to gain deeper content knowledge to assess student ideas and misconceptions as well as learn how to set the classroom environment to foster failure as a natural part of learning and not an embarrassment.

The Quantile Framework can help teachers to develop tasks that promote productive failure. Using the tools available on Quantiles.com, teachers can select activities to both develop challenging tasks and tasks that ensure prior knowledge. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Quantiles.com.
  2. Click “Use the Quantile Framework” at the top of home page.
  3. Select “Math Skills Database.”
  4. For the State Standards search, select the state in the dropdown list.
  5. Select the grade level or name of the math course in the Course dropdown list.
  6. Select the specific standard in the Standard dropdown list. Click “Search.”
  7. A list of Quantile Skill and Concepts (QSCs) targeted to the standard will appear.
  8. Click a QSC to view more details including its Knowledge Cluster. The Knowledge Cluster provides insight into Prerequisite, Supporting and Impending Quantile Skills and Concepts.
  9. To help create challenging tasks, click a QSC number for a Supporting or Impending QSC to see free challenging resources.
  10. To access resources to build prior knowledge, click a QSC number for a Prerequisite QSC to see free resources calibrated to a prerequisite skill or concept.

To learn more about productive failure, read the research of Manu Kapur, Professor of Psychological Studies at The Education University of Hong Kong.

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/kzG0mi. 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.

More Math at Home, Better Performance at School

Few would argue that our society privileges mathematical and the scientific disciplines over the humanities. Yet, well before studies concluded reading to your children will help them learn phonetic and phonemic awareness parents’ have been reading to their children. How many have done algebraic equations or recited times tables as they settle their children down to bed? Simply, we may all agree on the importance of mathematic and scientific skills in the 21st century, but at home thoughtful and concerned parents continue to just promote linguistic and reading skills.

It might be time, though, for parents to begin encouraging their children in math as with literature. A new study by Talia Berkowitz and other faculty at the University of Chicago— featured in Sciencesheds light on how parental math talk can greatly improve a student’s ability. In fact, just putting aside a few times a week for high-quality math discussion can significantly help students learn.

Of course, one of the reason’s reading is something many parents share with their children is many people have access to books. Reading with your kids is something most parents can do. But math is something many people feel less adept at sharing with their children. Fortunately, MetaMetrics has material to assist! Math@Home is a free resource targeted at assisting parents to develop meaningful lessons matched to students’ Quantile scores. It even offers instructional assistance which parallel many math textbooks assigned to students.

Similarly, many parents may be familiar with the “Summer Slide” in reading. This slide affects mathematical skills as well. To keep Math skills fresh and sharp instead of atrophy, MetaMetrics offers the Summer Math Challenge! The Summer Math Challenge is a free opportunity from June to July to help keep students learning instead of losing math skills over break!

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.

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.