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.

Math Prize for Girls

Congratulations to Victoria Xia for winning the Math Prize for Girls at M.I.T.  Xia, a 15 years old high school sophomore, won first place and a $25,000 prize for taking first place.  The contest was sponsored by Advantage Testing Foundation and consisted of 20 challenging math problems to be solved in 150 minutes. Xia has won previous math distinctions such as helping the US team win a gold medal at the 2011  Girls Mathematical Olympiad and also a honorable mention at last years Math Prize for Girls contest.  Kudos to Victoria!

It’s refreshing to see students take a deliberate and focused interest in mathematics.  With the recent focus on STEM education, along with increased demand for math and engineering majors in the workplace, it’s good to see U.S. students committed to high level math.  Our own contribution to improving student math achievement is the Quantile Framework for Mathematics, which allows teachers to differentiate math instruction for struggling students.  Plus, tools like Math at Home allow students to engage with targeted math resources all year long.

Implementing the Common Core: the Quantile Framework

The adoption of the Common Core State Standards is promoting the development of curriculum pathways that most states will collectively implement.  Many states have developed crosswalks or configuration maps to aid in this transition. Currently, most states are still waiting to see how the new common accountability assessments will be designed for the implementation of the new standards. 

According to the Great Lakes Comprehensive Center, Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, and Indiana formed the Midwest Common Core consortia to work together to plan the best implementation.  “The Midwest Common Core Consortia creates an avenue for the five states to work together to share resources, knowledge, and promising practices to improve implementation of the Common Core State Standards across the region. The work of the consortia is focused on the areas of leadership, communication, alignment, teaching, and learning.”  Additionally, many states’ department of instruction have joined forces with CCSSO by employing the Common Core Standards Collaborative that focus on six principles of teaching and learning.  The implementation of the standards is still being discussed at the state level and only small populations of teachers have gained the tools that will enable them to transfer methods of instruction to the new standards.

Yet, during this transition, teachers in the classroom are beginning the school year still searching for more specific directions regarding instruction that will incorporate the new Common Core State Standards as well as the old state standards.  The Quantile Framework® of Mathematics can help teachers do this through the use of its website.  Quantile.com offers teachers the ability to find free, internet based resources aligned to both the former year’s state standards and the new Common Core standards. 

Through the website, teachers can access the Math Skills Database, by activating the Advanced Search tool. With this search engine teachers can create a list of their state’s curriculum standards and Common Core State Standards for the grade level they are teaching.  This tool gives teachers the ability to compare the two standards and find free resources that will complement both sets of standards. 

Users also have access to the “knowledge cluster” of each skill or concept demanded by the standard which provides a means of task analysis.  Having access to these knowledge clusters allows a teacher to reach struggling students who may be unfamiliar with some of the required prerequisite skills.

The implementation of the new Common Core State Standards will require patience and planning to best allow educators to thoroughly address the new standards.  In the meantime, the Quantile Framework for Mathematics can provide support for educators as they move through this transition. 

Feeling the Pressure: Getting Parents Involved in Education

A recent Pew Research study reports that two-thirds of the American public think parents are not putting enough “pressure” on their children to study hard.  Over 20 countries were surveyed and the U.S. is more likely than any other country to report that we were not putting enough pressure on our students.  Interestingly, China was almost the complete opposite in reporting the belief that they put too much pressure on students (68%).  As a country we are starting to recognize the important role that parents play in shaping and promoting their children’s educational achievement.  In fact, this same survey indicated that, in 2006, 56% of the US public thought parents were not putting enough pressure on their children.  In five years the trend has increased by 8 percentage points.

Years ago, Susan Hall and Louisa Moats wrote Straight Talk About Reading, in which they argued for conceiving of literacy achievement as a shared responsibility.  If we are going to compete with other countries and have every child graduate from high school prepared for the rigors of college and career, parents will have to play a larger and vital role in supporting their children’s educational attainment.  My belief is that all parents want to be good parents and want a better future for their children.  While it is fairly easy for some parents to get involved in their child’s education, many parents, especially our low income parents, have trouble figuring out how to be involved.  Due to time constraints and perhaps their own lack of educational success, they become passive observers instead of active participants in their child’s education.

As we think about this latest Pew Research, educators and policy makers need to think through how we can best enlist and encourage active parental involvement.  “Pressure” is not what we really need.  For most of us pressure has a negative and stressful connotation (see, for example, these common meanings for the word ‘pressure’). What we really need is for parents to create an environment at home that supports academic achievement.  To accomplish this shift in parental expectations and involvement, we will need to conduct a comprehensive and concerted campaign of education and support of parents.  Through PTAs, PSAs, teacher conferences, pediatrician visits, community meetings, library sessions, and many other outlets, we need a crisp message for parents on what they can do to promote their child’s achievement.  The critical importance of school attendance, of devoting space and time at the home for homework,  of turning off the TV and reading, and the use of public libraries, to name just a few, all need to be part of the message.

It is also incumbent upon educators to build or introduce parent friendly tools and resources for parents to use with their children.  Here at MetaMetrics we’ve attempted to do just that with tools like ‘Find a Book’ and Math at Home.  ‘Find a Book’ allows parents and students to match themselves to book of interest at their own individual reading level.  Built around research demonstrating both the importance of targeting readers at the right level and of allowing students to self-select their own reading material, ‘Find a Book’ allows users to indicate their Lexile reading level as well as the topics on which they prefer to read.  Students can then select titles of interest within their own reading range and create book lists to print or save.  Best of all, ‘Find a Book’ links up with public libraries, allowing students and parents to immediately see which books on their list are available through the public library, as well as the closest branches that carry those titles.  ‘Find a Book’ is free to use.  Check it out here.

Math at Home functions in a similar way.  Based on the Quantile Framework for Mathematics, Math at Home allows students to select free, targeted math resources to help augment their textbook lessons.  Like ‘Find a Book’, Math at Home is built around the idea of targeting students at the right mathematical level.  Parents or students simply select the textbook lesson(s) they wish to supplment and they are immediately presented with a range of resoruces targeted to the individual student’s level.  Users can then create multiple resource lists for use over the summer or all year long.  Math at Home is also free to use and available here.

It’s our hope that an increasing number of parents will elect to be involved in their children’s education and that educators will welcome participation from enthusiastic and caring parents.  We also hope to see more tools and resources available that help supplement and codify the lessons learned in the classroom, tools that families can use as a way to prepare students for life after graduation.

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Todays Discoveries Aid Tomorrow’s Understandings!

According to eSchools News, a study released by the University of Missouri suggests that students beginning first grade with a good understanding of number lines and basic math facts were more successful in math skills over the next five years. This should be no surprise – just as building a house on a strong foundation makes for a stronger home, building new math skills on a strong foundation of math knowledge makes for a more robust understanding.  These recent findings also suggest that teaching ‘a mile wide and an inch deep’ may not fully develop a conceptual understanding of key math concepts. Young students need a lot of modeling, time, and a variety of experiences to practice math skills for true understanding.

One way to help develop these skills at an early age is to incorporate the Quantile Framework for Mathematics in specific math lessons. Utilizing the Framework allows teachers to determine which prerequisite skills are necessary for success with a particular math skill or concept, allowing educators to target struggling math students with the appropriate prerequisite skill.  For example, if a third grade student is working on estimation for sums and differences with whole numbers he/she must first be able to:

  • Make reasonable estimates of the number of objects.
  • Subtract 2- and 3-digit numbers with regrouping.
  • Round whole numbers to a given place value.

These prerequisite skills are necessary for students to understand before they are able to extend to estimation skills when they add and subtract whole numbers.

And the Quantile Framework allows teachers to go even lower: if a student is having trouble making reasonable estimates of the number of objects the knowledge cluster for this skill may indicate that he or she is having trouble with:

  • Use counting strategies for totals to 100 that include counting forward, counting backwards, grouping, ten frames, and hundred charts.

The Quantile Framework allows for the possibility of identifying areas where students are deficient.  Furthermore, for educators looking to differentiate math instruction, the Quantile Framework can serve as a valuable classroom resource by helping teachers target lessons to the needs of the students. Additionally, the Quantile Framework is linked to a variety of free tools and resources that – in addition to providing tools for task analysis – provide access to a host of free targeted resources, including worksheets, online tutorials, videos, websites, literature guides, and classroom activities. 

As we enter the new school year (and as many students are suffering the effects of summer slide), be sure to check out the Quantile Framework as a way to help struggling math students.

Because Math’s Too Important to Leave at School

Scholastic’s Math Hub has a great new post on the importance of parental involvement in a child’s math education.  In fact, a recent study found that the higher the level of parental involvement, the greater the student’s understanding of cardinal numbers by the time they enter schools. Even more compelling, additional research indicates that a student’s math knowledge at the time they enter school is often a predictor of their math performance through at least fifth grade.   Here are some other findings worth noting on the connection between math performance and the early introduction of mathematics:

  • A child’s knowledge level is highly related to the complexity of early childhood parental instruction.
  • Findings show that children learn to recite the number sequence before they understand the cardinal  meanings of the number words.
  • Parents who talked more about number with their toddlers had children with a better grasp of the cardinal meaning of numbers at 46 months.
  • Researchers found a correlation between cardinal number knowledge at 46 months and performance on vocabulary comprehension task at 54 months.
  • Number talk that references present objects was more predictive of children’s later number knowledge, especially when talking about large sets.
  • We’ve written much on the importance of keeping students engaged in learning year round, particularly in mathematics where the pernicious effects of summer learning loss are felt across the socioeconomic spectrum.  But this recent research points to an equally important lesson on the importance of introducing students to math at an early age.

    Our own contribution to facilitating parental involvement in mathematics is our own online tool, Math at Home.  Math at Home allows students to locate targeted math resources to help review and supplement current or past lessons.  Because access is 24/7, students have access to math lessons at their own math ability level year round.  Though many of the lessons and activities are targeted toward K-12 students, a number of the resources can be used with pre-K students to introduce them to numbers and basic mathematical concepts. 

    With more studies showing the importance of pre-K math education, it’s our hope that more parents will begin introducing students to math conceps at an even earlier age.

    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.