The results of this year’s Common Core-related standardized tests show scores for New York’s schoolchildren inching up.

About one-fifth of the children boycotted the tests altogether because of continued controversy over the Common Core learning standards.

State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia said she’s pleased with the progress made in the 2017 test results. While scores improved by nearly 2 percent from last year, the results show that only about 40 percent of students in grades three through eight are considered proficient in English and math.

Elia said she’s keeping her eye on the big picture and trying to see the positive in the results.

“We are on a trajectory of moving forward and upward,” Elia said. “And that’s a good thing.”

She said there was slight improvement in New York City and in upstate’s largest cities. Children of all ethnicities performed better on the 2017 tests than they did in 2016.

But she admitted there is still a large gap in the test scores of children from richer schools, where around two-thirds scored highly on the tests, and the results in poorer schools.

About one-third of children in rural districts and about 37 percent in New York City were considered proficient in the skills they need in English and math, while just an average of 16 percent of students in upstate city schools performed well on the tests.

“The issue of gaps between students across the state is a major focus,” Elia said.

The test results come amid ongoing controversy over the Common Core learning standards and the related tests. The animosity between teachers, parents and education leaders has calmed somewhat under Elia’s now two-year tenure.

The new commissioner went on a statewide listening tour to hear complaints. The Board of Regents, which sets education policy in New York, has gained new members who are skeptical of Common Core. And there’s been a moratorium on the test results being used to negatively evaluate students or their teachers.

But the state’s largest teachers union, New York State United Teachers, called the 2017 test results “virtually meaningless.”

NYSUT President Andy Pallotta, speaking before the test results were released, said the tests are part of what was a “broken” system.

Elia, who began her career as a teacher, said the tests are being revamped, and teachers will have more input into the test design and questions in future years. She said the tests will be downsized from a three-day event to two days of questions.

“There will be fewer questions,” said Elia, who added the tests will remain just as rigorous.

Elia and the Board of Regents are revising the teacher and principal evaluations for the fifth time since 2010, and Pallotta said there’s a lot riding on the reforms, including whether the test boycott movement will continue.

While the number of children who skipped the tests in 2017 was 19 percent, down 2 percentage points from 2016, Pallotta doesn’t believe the opt-outs will truly end until parents and teachers are satisfied with the changes.

“A lot of parents are waiting to see what New York state, the education officials, the Legislature will do to address their concerns,” Pallotta said.

Meanwhile, the leaders of the state’s charter schools say they are pleased with the test results. They say the test results show that charter school students scored higher on the exams than did public school students.

The post NYS Test Scores Inch Up first appeared on WSKG.]]>In fourth grade, your child will use the four operations to solve word problems involving money. In order to do this, she will first learn to decompose, or break apart, one dollar into smaller units. We call these units: quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies.

Ask your child: How many quarters make up one dollar? How many quarters make up two dollars?

Think about nickels: How many nickels make one dollar? She knows one dollar is one-hundred cents, so she might skip count by five to one-hundred. There are twenty nickels in one-hundred cents!

When using money, it’s very important to consider the units. One dollar can be written like this or like this. Five cents can be this or this.

With practice, your child will understand all the ways we represent money and be comfortable using decimal notation. Find opportunities to talk about money with your child so she can problem solve with confidence!

And that’s good to know.

This video addresses Common Core Grade 4 Standard Measurement & Data: Solve problems involving measurement and conversion of measurements from a larger unit to a smaller unit.

(4.MD.2) Use the four operations to solve word problems involving distances, intervals of time, liquid volumes, masses of objects, and money, including problems involving simple fractions or decimals, and problems that require expressing measurements given in a larger unit in terms of a smaller unit. Represent measurement quantities using diagrams such as number line diagrams that feature a measurement scale.

The post Making Sense of Money first appeared on WSKG.]]>To decompose means to break apart. Your child has already decomposed whole numbers with number bonds, tape diagrams, and place value charts. In fourth grade, he will decompose fractions.

Three-eighths is a fraction. We can decompose three-eighths into parts using a tape diagram as the visual model. One-eighth, plus one-eighth, plus one-eighth equals three-eighths.Your child will write this as an equation. These are called unit fractions.

He will also decompose three-eighths as two-eighths plus one-eighths. Decomposing fractions into different parts helps your child to understand that one whole can be expressed in more than one way.

Sometimes your child will work with improper fractions. Ten-fourths is an improper fractions because the numerator is greater than the denominator. Your child will decompose an improper fraction by considering the denominator and pulling out one whole. Four-fourths equals one whole. After pulling out four-fourths, six-fourths remain.

But wait! He can pull out another whole! Your child knows one whole equals one, so he can now see ten-fourths equals one plus one plus two-fourths.

Practice decomposing fractions with your child so he will be ready for mixed numbers and performing operations with fractions!

And that’s good to know.

This video addresses Common Core Grade 4 Standard Number & Operations – Fractions: Build fractions from unit fractions by applying and extending previous understandings of operations on whole numbers.

(4.NF.3) Understand a fraction a/b with a greater than 1 as a sum of fractions 1/b.

(4.NF.3b) Decompose a fraction into a sum of fractions with the same denominator in more than one way, recording each decomposition by an equation. Justify decompositions, e.g., by using a visual fraction model. Examples: ⅜ = ⅛ + ⅛ + ⅛ = ⅛ + 2/8; 2 ⅛ = 1 + 1 + ⅛ = 8/8 + 8/8 + ⅛ .

In fourth grade, your child will use the metric system to measure length, mass, and capacity. Length refers to the measurement of something from end to end. Long lengths are called distance.

Mass refers to the measure of the amount of matter in an object.

Capacity refers to the maximum amount that something can contain, commonly called volume. This cup has a maximum capacity that is much smaller than the capacity of this swimming pool.

Kilometer, meter, and centimeter are metric measurements of length. Kilogram and gram are used to measure mass. Liter and milliliter measure capacity.

Learning what unit is appropriate for each measurement can be challenging. Ask your child:

What unit is best to measure our trip to grandma’s house? Is it best to measure your mass in kilograms or grams? What unit is used to tell us the capacity of this juice bottle?

Talk about these units at home so your child will be confident when converting units of measure. That is, expressing a measurement in a different unit. He will recognize patterns of converting units on the place value chart. Just as one-thousand grams is equal to one kilogram, one-thousand ones is equal to one thousand.

Your child will practice this by completing conversion charts. He will convert between units using his place value knowledge. Talking about length, mass, and capacity will help your child become familiar and confident with all types of units!

Knowing which unit is larger or smaller is important as he converts from one unit to another unit within a system of measurement. Having a strong understanding of units is very helpful when your child begins to add, subtract, multiply, and divide with units of measure.

And that’s good to know.

This video addresses Common Core Grade 4 Standard Measurement & Data: Solve problems involving measurement and conversion of measurements from a larger unit to a smaller unit. Know relative sizes of measurement units within one system of units including km, m, cm; kg, g; lb, oz.; L, mL; hr, min, sec. Within a single system of measurement, express measurements in a larger unit in terms of a smaller unit. Record measurement equivalents in a two-column table.

Note: Pounds, ounces, and time are explored but not tested in Grade 4.

The post Units of Measure first appeared on WSKG.]]>New York state’s education commissioner said Tuesday that new state-specific learning standards will offer several improvements over the controversial Common Core standards.

Commissioner MaryEllen Elia’s report came on a day when large numbers of students in some parts of the state were expected to once again boycott the required third- through eighth-grade math tests.

Elia said the timing was pure coincidence. “This is about standards,” said Elia. “This is not about opt-out.”

The education department has been working on developing the new standards since late 2015. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who initially supported the controversial fast-tracking of Common Core, issued a report in December of that year. It recommended slowing things down and carefully revamping the unpopular Common Core standards.

Despite the efforts, parents continue to opt their children out of the Common Core-related third- through eighth-grade standardized tests. Statewide, more than one-fifth of students skipped the test during the past two years. Numbers for 2017 test attendance will not be released until the summer, but *Newsday* already is reporting that about half of Long Island students boycotted the English exams given in late March.

Elia said the improvements to the standards include increasing the complexity of reading materials for each grade level and helping children to better learn how to read things like technical manuals for information, as well as developing an affinity for reading literature.

In math, students will be introduced to some of the higher mathematical concepts at an earlier grade level, though they will not be expected to fully master them until later on.

But more importantly, said Elia, a former teacher, the process fully included teachers this time.

“Teachers are professionals,” Elia said. “They didn’t want to have something done to them; they wanted to be part of it.”

The initial Common Core standards development left teachers out, which caused a backlash from teachers unions. It led to a moratorium on using the test results to evaluate students or teachers until at least the 2019-20 school year. The company that wrote the tests was fired, and the new company writes questions with the input of teachers.

A statement from the teachers union, New York State United Teachers, commended Elia and the other education officials for “showing a commitment” to fixing the problem.

The New York State School Boards Association, which often found itself in the middle of the fights, is also pleased. The group’s Tim Kremer said he’s never seen a more “open or transparent” process, and he praised the education commissioner for traveling the state to gather input.

“Trying to make sure that people were included, and that this meets the needs of as many people as possible,” Kremer said. “I think she’s got it right.”

Now that the new standards are out, there will be a public comment period before the full Board of Regents vote at its June meeting. The documents are available at the state education department’s website.

The post NY Ed Commish Reports Progress On New Standards As Exam Boycotts Continue first appeared on WSKG.]]>When your child first learns to multiply two two-digit numbers, she will use the area model. This visual tool illustrates how to decompose numbers and find four different products. As her skills improve, she will move from this pictorial model into a concrete method called partial products.

Using partial products to solve forty-three times fifty-six, looks like this. She will start by multiplying tens times tens. Next, she will multiply tens times ones. Then, ones times tens and last, ones times ones.

These are called partial products. This is the product, or answer. Using partial products removes the pictorial step but places the same emphasis on the actual value of the numbers being multiplied.

By the end of fourth grade, your child will use the standard algorithm to multiply! This algorithm is used to develop an abstract level of understanding. If she jumps right to using the algorithm,

she will not develop the conceptual understanding of multiplying two-digit numbers.

The standard algorithm has fewer lines of work because your child has a greater understanding of what she’s multiplying! Your child knows the actual value of these products because she has a strong understanding of partial products.

And that’s good to know.

This video addresses Common Core Grade 4 Standard Number & Operations in Base Ten: Use place value understanding and properties of operations to perform multi-digit arithmetic.

(4.NBT.5) Multiply a whole number of up to four digits by a one-digit whole number, and multiply two two-digit numbers, using strategies based on place value and the properties of operations. Illustrate and explain the calculation by using equations, rectangular arrays, and/or area models.

The post Partial Products first appeared on WSKG.]]>When first learning to multiply two two-digit numbers your child will use the area model.

To start, your child will use her knowledge of place value to decompose into tens and ones. To decompose means to break apart. Let’s decompose these numbers by the value of each digit.

The value of two tens is twenty. The value of three ones is three. Three tens is thirty. And five ones is five. Decomposing numbers allows your child to use the multiplication fluency she developed in third grade to multiply large numbers with mental math.

So, what is twenty-three times thirty-five?

Three tens times two tens equals sixty tens or six-hundred. Thirty tens times three equals nine tens or ninety. Twenty tens times five equals ten tens or one-hundred. And three times five equals fifteen.

Your child will then add these products together. Six-hundred plus ninety equals six-hundred ninety. One-hundred plus fifteen equal one-hundred fifteen. By fourth grade, your child will fluently add three-digit numbers, like this, using the standard algorithm.

Your child can clearly see why twenty-three times thirty-five equals eight-hundred-five. The area model gives your child a visual representation that decomposes the numbers she is multiplying. At this point in fourth grade, your child is developing a pictorial level of understanding,

which will give her a strong foundation for using partial products and, later, using the standard algorithm to multiply.

And that’s good to know.

This video addresses Common Core Grade 4 Standard Number & Operations in Base Ten: Use place value understanding and properties of operations to perform multi-digit arithmetic. Multiply a whole number of up to four digits by a one-digit whole number, and multiply two two-digit numbers, using strategies based on place value and the properties of operations. Illustrate and explain the calculation by using equations, rectangular arrays, and/or area models.

The post Area Model first appeared on WSKG.]]>Your child’s introduction to multiplication is through repeated addition. He will draw an array to visualize, or see, five groups of four stars. He will count the stars and find the total.

As his understanding improves, he will skip count to find the total more efficiently. Your child will use a variety of visual models, to represent multiplication as he works toward developing multiplication fluency.

Fluency in third grade means knowing, from memory, all products of two one-digit numbers. This includes facts from zero times zero all the way up through nine times nine.

Then, your child will use these facts to develop the connection between multiplication and division. Knowing that five times four equals twenty is the first step in understanding that 20 stars, divided into five groups, equals four stars in each group. Or, twenty divided by five equals four.

Talk about the relationship between multiplication and division with your child. I know this… So I also know this! With lots of practice, your child will achieve fluency!

And that’s good to know.

This video addresses Common Core Grade 3 Standard Operations & Algebraic Thinking: Multiply and divide within 100.

(3.OA.7) Fluently multiply and divide within 100, using strategies such as the relationship between multiplication and division (e.g., knowing that 8 x 5 = 40, one knows 40 5 = 8) or properties of operations. By the end of Grade 3, know from memory all products of two one-digit numbers.

The post Multiplication Fluency first appeared on WSKG.]]>Learning to assess the reasonableness of an answer is an important mathematical skill. It’s your child’s way of seeing if she’s on the right track when problem solving. Sometimes we use rounding to estimate a solution.

In third grade, your child will round whole numbers using a vertical number line and round to the nearest ten or to the nearest hundred.

Let’s round seven-hundred sixty-two to the nearest hundred. Your child knows seven-hundred sixty-two is made up of seven hundreds, six tens, and two ones. Seven hundreds is seven-hundred. So seven-hundred-sixty-two will fall somewhere above seven-hundred on the vertical number line.

How many hundreds come after seven hundreds? Five-hundred, six-hundred, seven-hundred, eight-hundred… Eight hundreds!

Next, your child will find the midpoint or halfway mark. What falls halfway between 700 and 800? This can be tricky, so your child may skip count by fifty. Six-hundred, six-hundred fifty, seven-hundred, seven-hundred fifty, eight-hundred… Seven-hundred fifty is the midpoint!

Ask your child: Where will you place seven-hundred sixty-two on this number line? Ummm… Here! Just a little above the midpoint.

Using a vertical number line is a very helpful model. Your child can clearly see that seven-hundred sixty-two is closer to eight-hundred than it is to seven-hundred, so it rounds up to eight-hundred.

Seven-hundred sixty-two rounded to the nearest hundred is eight-hundred. Or, seven-hundred sixty-two is approximately equal to eight-hundred.

Talk with your child about this special case: When a number falls exactly on the midpoint, you round up. Like this – twenty-five is the midpoint, and twenty-five rounded to the nearest ten is thirty because you round up. Twenty-five is approximately thirty.

Using a vertical number line gives your child a visual representation for rounding. With practice, she will always see when to round up and when to round down.

And that’s good to know.

This video addresses Common Core Grade 3 Standard Number & Operations in Base Ten: Use place value understanding and properties of operations to perform multi-digit arithmetic.

(3.NBT.1) Use place value understanding to round whole numbers to the nearest 10 or 100.

The post Rounding: Nearest 10 or 100 first appeared on WSKG.]]>In third grade, your child will solve two-step word problems using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Let’s try one: There were ten adults and five children at the movies. Each adult ticket costs $8.00 and each child ticket costs $3.00. What is the total cost of all the tickets?

What is this question asking us to find?

Write an answer statement to stay on track. The total cost of the tickets is…. Let’s find out!

We know what to find, so your child will use a tape diagram to solve.

There are ten adults, so divide the tape diagram into ten equal parts. Each adult ticket is eight-dollars. Your child knows the total cost of adult tickets because he is fluent in multiplication. He knows that ten groups of eight is eighty. The adult tickets cost eighty dollars.

This tape diagram represents the five children, so divide it into five equal parts. Each child ticket costs $3.00. Now we find the total cost of child tickets. Five groups of three is fifteen. The child tickets cost fifteen dollars.

Check back with your answer statement. We’re not done yet! We need to add the costs together. Eighty dollars plus fifteen dollars equals…

Your child may use the break apart mental math strategy to make a ten. He will break apart fifteen into one ten and five ones, so he can easily add with a ten. Ninety plus five equals ninety-five.

Don’t forget to complete your answer statement! The total cost of the tickets is ninety-five dollars.

Your child used multiplication and addition to solve this two-step word problem. You can see how developing strong mental math strategies learned in younger grades makes a big difference when solving two-step problems!

And that’s good to know.

This video addresses Common Core Grade 3 Standard Operations & Algebraic Thinking: Solve problems involving the four operations, and identify and explain patterns in arithmetic. Solve two-step word problems using the four operations. Represent these problems using equations with a letter standing for the unknown quantity. Assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies including rounding.

The post Solving 2-Step Word Problems first appeared on WSKG.]]>