The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Math Test

We took a math test this afternoon and because I didn’t have an answer key readily available, I include myself in the “we” at the start of this sentence. (I was the first one done, incidentally.) When I looked at the original test, I realised that nearly half of it included very text-heavy word problems. I did not like that because the assessment was of my students’ ability to perform addition and subtraction with greater numbers. It was a math computation test, not a reading test.

So I just cut out the first page of the test. That left them with two word problems, several computation problems, a handful of place value questions, and a few items looking at rounding and comparing numbers. The last problem was a more complex one, asking the students to determine if the equation was correct or not. It involved addition multiple sets of numbers with different grouping. I told the class that it would be worth up to five extra credit points. This was the problem:

9,278 + (847 + 766) = (9,278 + 766) + 847

I was curious to know if anyone student could identify the specific reasons for the statement being true (1 pt) namely that the associative property of addition tells us that we can change groups (2 pts) and the commutative property tells us that we can change the order of the addends (2 pts). I had quite a few students who identified one property or another and several others who knew it was true but weren’t able to quite capture the vocabulary (they earned 2 pts total).

The most important thing, for me, though, was whether or not they understood place value and the algorithms for adding and subtracting large numbers. I learned that several students still struggle with the subtraction algorithm, so I will work with them in small groups while others are using FrontRow and XtraMath for independent practice.

I am always glad when a math test actually gives me useful data! Sometimes I use a test that, as I look through the results, turns out to have been rather unhelpful. This was not such a test. And having the technological resources to assist in reteaching and supplementing are absolutely helping!

Have a great weekend!


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