kitchen table math, the sequel: TIMSS test for kids (and grownups)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

TIMSS test for kids (and grownups)

You can take sample 10-item 4th & 8th grade TIMSS tests here. They've also got some 12th grade tests, though none in math.

I had C. take the 8th grade math test yesterday.

The news wasn't quite as bad as I expected.

He scored 100% correct. I was thrilled ecstatic until I read the questions, 3 or 4 of which seemed over his head. Sure enough, he'd guessed 3 of his answers, all on fraction questions.

On the other hand, he got the percent problem correct, and I know for a fact he couldn't have answered that question 2 months ago. Score another win for Singapore Math, it seems.

Ms. Thierry and 3 friends ate dinner at a restaurant. The bill was $67. In addition, they left a $13 tip. Approximately what percent of the total bill did they leave as a tip?
correct answer: 20%

When I asked how he got this answer he said, "I took 10% of $67 and multiplied by 2." That was great to hear, since both Ed and I have been hounding him all summer long about the fact that you can find 20% of a number simply by moving the decimal point over 1 place (WHICH MEANS DIVIDING BY TEN, I INVARIABLY POINT OUT) and then multiplying that number by 2. Apparently it sank in.

I was semi-glum over the missed answers, but Ed thinks the fact that he is "guessing" correctly is good, and I tend to agree. Consistent correct guesses on fraction questions probably indicate that C. has developed some number sense for fractions.

Fraction sense.

(Does that seem wrong?)

He'll do his final page of problems on percent in Primary Mathematics 5B today. (We've done all the corresponding workbook problems, as well.)

I was thinking I'd have him also do the problems in 5B Intensive Practice, but it occurs to me as I write that I should probably distribute those through the next weeks a la John Saxon.

I think we'll finish up Percent in 5B and head on back to Primary Mathematics 3A.

First topic: Numbers to 10,000.

17 comments:

LynnG said...

I think you are right -- C does seem to be getting a "fraction sense," which is better than nothing, but fraction competence would be great too. Did he just finish 8th grade?

We have taken a vacation break from Singapore Math. Dragged those books all the way to the OBX, but never openned them once.

School starts next week, so we'll have to start moving things back into gear. I can't tell you how much I'm dreading sending the young ones back into the trenches.

SusanJ said...

I thought example question was poorly worded since it said "bill" and then "total bill" so I wondered if the "total bill" was intended to include the tip.

Instructivist said...

"I thought example question was poorly worded since it said "bill" and then "total bill" so I wondered if the "total bill" was intended to include the tip."

I totally agree. I was wondering the same thing.

Here is a problem from the 25-question version for 8th grade that suffers from unclear wording.


Robin and Jim took cherries from a basket. Robin took 1/3 of the cherries and Jim took 1/6 of the cherries. What fraction of the cherries remain in the basket?

Here I am wondering if the 1/6 applies to what's left after 1/3 is taken. Can you take different fractions of something simultaneously? I guess you can. I just did it. 1 - (1/3 + 1/6) = 1/2

These "8th grade" quesions strike me as 5h grade questions.

Catherine Johnson said...

fraction competence would be great too

ditto that!

Catherine Johnson said...

He's just finished 7th grade, not 8th, but he's in "accelerated" math, which means he's started algebra.

Started algebra & can't do fraction word problems.

Catherine Johnson said...

I agree about the level of the questions -- they seem pretty low.

Nevertheless, they're way too high for most U.S. kids I would imagine.

Catherine Johnson said...

Chris missed the cherry question.

You're right that it's ambiguously worded, but I don't think that's why he missed it.

Actually...that's an experiment.

I should rewrite it so it's clear & see if that makes a difference.

Robin and Jim took cherries from a basket. Robin took 1/3 of the total number of cherries and Jim took 1/6 of the total number of cherries.

What fraction of the cherries remain in the basket?


Is that question clear?

Catherine Johnson said...

I can't tell you how much I'm dreading sending the young ones back into the trenches.

I was experiencing anticipatory dread over vacation.

Catherine Johnson said...

Of course, a lot of my dread is on my own behalf, not C's.

I assume I'm going to be teaching math, writing, AND earth science this year.

Not sure about earth science, but the principal himself told us, last year, that "a number of the students [in the class] are struggling and don't belong."

These are all hand-picked academically successful kids, so if a number of them were "struggling" that's a bad sign.

Catherine Johnson said...

The principal made that statement in a public setting, so I asked him what led him to believe that the problem lay in the students rather than in the curriculum or the pedagogy.

Then every other parent present jumped all over me so I didn't get an answer.

(The other parents jumped all over me on grounds that the course was Honors, and therefore one would expect smart students to struggle ---- another uh-oh moment.)

In fact the course wasn't and isn't Honors; it's just a high school course taught in 8th grade.

But the meeting got sidetracked by an argument over Honors/accelerated and the principal ducked the question.

Catherine Johnson said...

I bought books I can teach myself Earth Science with this year. Only managed to read one chapter over the summer.

Earth Science Made Simple - I think that's the book.

Catherine Johnson said...

Ed said, "It'll be fun to learn about Earth Science."

le radical galoisien said...

Say, do the US Primary Mathematics folks have a right to print the books, or only import them over? I'm just curious about the price difference. I can't remember the exact prices myself, but I remember paying two to five SGD (1 SGD is about 0.70 USD) for each workbook or textbook.


Price comparison and cost/profit of making, importing and selling math textbooks would make good percentage and fraction questions, well if only I could remember the exact prices.

Catherine Johnson said...

Price comparison and cost/profit of making, importing and selling math textbooks would make good percentage and fraction questions, well if only I could remember the exact prices.

Yes!

I think the Singapore Math website has an explanation posted.

As I recall, the wife grew up in Singapore....and wanted to bring the books here. (Can't remember the rest.)

PaulaV said...

Speaking of science, my county is adopting a new science textbook for grades 1-12 this year. I've signed up to be on the elementary school committee.

Any ideas of good science textbooks out there?

Catherine Johnson said...

oh gosh - good question - I'll try to remember to put this up front

I asked to be put on the site committee at the middle school.

Haven't heard back.

Catherine Johnson said...

I was asking Ed, "What's my response when they say, No, you can't be on the site committee?"