Testing - Panic over low test scores in math

Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 8:39 pm

Testing - Panic over low test scores in math

Unread post by Rives »

I got my daughter's CAT test scores back today and was upset by the scores she received on her math computation. She scored the minimum score on the math section.

We have used Singapore 1B and 2A this year (2nd grade) and we do drills each day --- I write out 20 addition and then 20 subtraction facts each day for her to solve in 2 min. each. I just don't know whether she just didn't try, knowing it is a weak area or what.

She tested at a 2nd grade equivalency for the math concepts and application part. This is our 2nd year testing and both years we've tested in a group setting, administered by a group of moms, besides myself. I just am wondering why from last year to this year there would be such a decline in computation. My guess is the work is getting tougher.

I have had my hunch that maybe there isn't enough practice with Singapore, but I also don't want to burn her out with doing an hour or more worth of math. I know when I taught in the public schools we were required to teach 90 min. of math. Well, I know my daughter would flip out if I came close to that amount!!

I guess from here I need to decide whether to stick with Singapore and just beef up the computation practice we do each day or switch altogether to a different math program.

Anybody else experienced this and do Singapore students typically test low?? I know math is a weak subject for her, but didn't expect her to be well below grade level. Any thoughts from those who maybe have been with Singapore for the long term and had a weaker math student??

Thanks for your input!!!!
Mother to Rosemary 8, Stuart 6, and Dorothy 4
Julie in MN
Posts: 2909
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Unread post by Julie in MN »

Concepts & Application should be more reflective of her Singapore skills. In some cases, they will be skewed because of the order different math programs teach the skills, but in my limited experience Singapore students tend to do well in these areas.

Computation is strictly drill. And Singapore doesn't have built-in drill. In Singapore and in most classrooms in the US, math drill is separate from the math textbook. It's just too hard to predict exactly on what page an individual child will master a specific math fact.

The standardized tests have one section where the student simply solves problems -- as many as possible, as quickly as possible. Here is where the math drill pays off.

Although, some students just aren't inclined to answer quickly even if they know their facts, and I can't tell you what to do about that because I've never solved that problem in my putzy middle child.

HTH, Julie
Last edited by Julie in MN on Fri Jun 01, 2007 8:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002+)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs
Posts: 473
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 2:40 pm

Unread post by kellybell »

Oh, that's a disappointment.

We use another curriculum, but I really don't think it's a curriculum thing that much. Here are a few things to consider:

1. Is this the first year testing? Remember that public school students practice, practice, and practice on tests. The kids are very well-versed in what to expect, what the tests look like, etc. Homeschool kids sometimes aren't really ready for the format of the test and therefore could test low. Also, the tests could present the questions in a different format which can throw some kids for a loop.

2. Was he distracted or tired? I did the CAT at home and as much as I tried to eliminate the distractions, there ARE distractions at home.

3. How is he doing with computations at home? If he's doing fine, then he just had a bad day. You can nearly count on better scores next year if it was just a bad day.

4. Did he feel pressured? Did you stress the importance of testing a little too much? I like to tell the kids that it is important but not to grade them. I tell them that the test shows if I have done a good job teaching and if I need to adjust things for next year. In otherwords, it tests ME.

If he's doing fine at home and this low test score was a surprise, then perhaps it was a fluke. If he's having low performance at home too, then it's time to either beef up what you are doing or change. You might just need a little practice.

Pray about it and don't fret. The neat thing about low test scores is that there is a lot of room for improvement. With a little effort between now and next spring, the percentile will go up and you'll have a great reason to celebrate.
Kelly, wife to Jim since 1988, mom to Jamie (a girl, 1994), Mary (1996), Brian (1998) and Stephanie (2001).
Posts: 79
Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2006 7:36 pm

Unread post by Fly2Peace »

That was not the way it went for us last year (2nd grade). We used the Metropolitan 8. Maybe they just score differently? We only did 1A and 1B, and dd scored high and high average consistently. We have been very pleased.

Don't put too much on the test though. Maybe she was tired, or having a tough time. Testing itself can be stressful. You KNOW how she is doing.

Now, you can help with fun stuff by playing math games (monopoly jr., yahtzee, aggravation, etc.), cooking together (lots of math in cooking), shop and compare prices...

I also belong to the Singapore math boards, and there has been LOTS of discussion lately on how to drill, what to use with Singapore. It was always intended that drill would happen outside of the curriculum. Some were saying they used worksheets, some used workbooks, each to his own...

Just good old fashioned flash cards are good. Quarter Mile math is a good computer program for drill work. We got a math copywork book, and it has been really good. The worst thing that can happen is to get a wrong answer locked in. Copywork locks in the right answer.

Spend 15 minutes daily in drill, outside of the Singapore -- like not even close to that time. Then it doesn't seem like too much at once. Keep at it, it will come!
Fly2Peace (versus flying to pieces)

Unread post by cbollin »

Rives wrote: She tested at a 2nd grade equivalency for the math concepts and application part.
From this side of the computer screen....

don't worry about it this weekend. As her teacher, you already knew math was weaker for her. The test scores simply indicate what you already knew that she didn't know.

She's 8 y.o and testing at 2nd grade equivalency for concepts and application. That's good, isn't it? Homeschooling does not mean that all children will win the national spelling bee, national geography bee, or place grade levels above in any subject.

smile, mom --- you're doing a good job.

I think you need a story or two about test scores and all of that.... this thread really isn't about math programs. I think you just need some encouragement.

I am a mom of special needs children. They seem to always test lower than what they really know. I remember one time one of the experts looking at a test score on my 2nd dd. That expert said "I don't believe this test score is accurate. I've spent all day with this kid and I think she just was tired for this section. Maybe we should have had lunch sooner." This PHD psychologist didn't have kind words for standardized testing that day. She knew there was more going on than the test indicated, and she made a major note on the report to indicate it. :)

Or the annual evals the speech therapist does --- there is this one section that my dd always tests lower than what she really does on a day to day basis. No matter how much the monthly progress notes show her working at 90% of the goal, the test shows her under 50%.

I say those stories from my life hopefully to encourage you a bit. Standardized scores tell us a snap shot moment. Your dd is 8 and testing at 2nd grade level, except in an area that you knew was weaker. Work a bit this summer on drills --try some different drill techniques, or math games. If the situation were that she was below grade in all areas of math, I think you'd have more concern. just my personal opinion on it.

Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2007 6:05 pm

Unread post by Willow »

Last year my dd had lower scores on the computation part compared to the concepts/problem solving scores. I added daily practice and her scores increased this year. But they still didn't catch up to her concepts/problem solving scores.

I don't think Singapore students generally test low. I think some kids just struggle with the computation part. My feeling is that I'd rather have my child be at grade level for computation and above grade level for concepts/problem solving than the other way around.

Unread post by TurnOurHearts »

A "rubber meets the road" story from Paige :) ~

All year long, my son has loved spelling (using R&S Spelling by Sound & Structure). He has had some weeks that were easy, some that were more difficult. As the mom, I have observed him this entire year. He has REALLY grown in his ability to spell. That's what we all like to see, right? :)

Enter the CAT test a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, NC's PS 2nd graders are spelling words like, "beautiful," and "tomorrow." We didn't spell words like that this year, and you know what happened? My son pretty much bombed the spelling portion of the test. He even guessed incorrectly on words I know we know...*sigh*

For about 24 hours, I was devastated. I was ready to search the internet for the perfect spelling program for my little dude. Then the Lord reminded me how much Max learned this year. He gently reminded me that we've loved spelling this year, AND come a long way. His reminder settled my heart. No one will see those scores but me. Even if a government official asks to see our test, I don't answer to them for our "progress reports." But this is where the rubber met the road for me. To freak, or not to freak...

May I gently ask you, has your daughter grown this year? Before you took the test, were you pleased with her progress, even knowing her areas of struggle? Does having a "poor" section on this one test change how you feel about your entire year?

Be encouraged. :) If our children have an area in which they struggle, it will not be missed, overlooked, or ignored. You don't have 30 students to work with. And this child is YOUR precious blessing from the Lord! No one could possibly care more for her success (save the Lord) than YOU. Keep working on what you know needs work & trust the Lord for the increase. I know it's hard - I'm right there with you...

By the way, I don't think this is a Singapore issue (unless you don't feel your daughter is 'clicking' with it). My son (major math kid) is finishing up 2A and that was our strongest section of the CAT.

Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2006 6:19 pm

Unread post by Mom1669 »

Just another though that I didn't see mentioned yet. Kids all grow at different rates, physically AND developmentally. So your daughter didn't grow as much this year as the "average" kid in that particular area. That's fine! Is there another area she grew more than average in? Maybe it was simply a matter of how her brain grew and changed this year.

My real life example: Last year my middle son scored a 24 composite on his CAT test, the year before it was a 16. So he made more than a year's worth of progress. This year? A 67!! Wow! Blew me away! But he matured a lot this year. Last year my oldest son scored a 91 composite, this year an 89. He didn't do as well in math which I expected (new curriculum wasn't working well), BUT his language mechanics (punctuation, capitalization etc.) went way up! Thank you All In One Grammar! Next year, who knows! I really only test to see what areas I may need to schedule more time with the next year anyhow.

I don't know how you feel about allowing your daughter access to the internet, but there are several on-line math drills. There is also a free drill you can download from Hunting Learning Centers and I have Math Baseball from Fun Brain To Go. I've got it on my laptop and they like to play it during their "school games" time.
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Oct 07, 2006 4:29 pm

Math copybooks?

Unread post by ElaineTX »

We have used SM from the beginning and my oldest is finishing 4th grade. This is the first year we have tested and we haven't received the scores yet. I can tell you, though, that my dd did very well on the practice test I gave her and also said the math portion on the actual test was easy. I've been very impressed with the work she's doing with SM! The bar diagrams that begin in 3A (or is it 3B?) are amazing! They are taught to think through and complete problems that would otherwise require algebra by using these diagrams!

I have tried to stay up on math facts and tables "on the side." There have been times that we have taken a break from SM to focus on these.

My ds (2nd grade this year) does fine with his SM (and prefers SM), but we have been working to increase his speed with math facts. We have slowed down in SM in order to focus on these. I was concerned that he wouldn't finish the math sections of the SAT, but he says he finished every section.

So, I can't address test scores (yet), but I can say that I have been impressed with SM through 4B! Hope this helps!

Fly2Peace, I also like the idea of math copy books!
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 8:39 pm

Unread post by Rives »

Thanks everyone for your encouraging words. I think that it would be a great idea to drill at a different time than we do our actual math to break things up a bit. I hadn't thought of that!!!

We've liked Singapore and I guess since she tested on grade level for applications/concepts that is a good thing. So now I'm feeling better about things --- I think in the moment of having that paper in my hand I freaked out a bit!!!!!

I think Crystal hit on something though that I tend to expect my kids to do better than average on most things since we do homeschool.

Colleen, I'll have to look those on-line drills up and see if that is something she would like.

Elaine, my daughter doesn't mind Singapore math, so we will stick with it and really work on these math facts. Also, I've seen math copy work book for sale through Queen Homeschool, a Charlotte Mason homeschool supply company.

I definitely feel more peace about it after reading everyone's posts and praying over it. I now feel proactive about working on the math facts!!!! Thanks again.
Mother to Rosemary 8, Stuart 6, and Dorothy 4