Practical Measures for Assessing How Well Your Teen Understands Math

A parent told me that her daughter had a B in math, so tutoring was not crucial.  The teen failed the first three math tests and couldn’t do her homework without help. How is a B possible? 

For grades 6-12, a course grade may not be a good metric for mastery of math, especially given the increasing use of test corrections to boost a grade.  The ability to do a typical homework assignment without help and in 45-60 minutes is a better metric, especially for students in Algebra II/Trigonometry or lower.

Test corrections, which are a reactive form of learning, are only one form of learning and not the most desirable.  Post-test learning competes with learning the next topic. It reduces the importance of studying and test preparation. Students have said that they don’t study too hard for tests because they can “make it up” with test corrections. For my newer students, about 25% of learning occurs during our review of their graded exams. Within 6-8 weeks, I’ve helped them shift from reactive to proactive learning.

Proactive learning starts when the student reads about a math topic before the teacher lectures. Learning should happen during the lecture.  By reading the book or lecture notes, a student can learn after the lecture.  Learning takes place during homework and the next class when the teacher asks for questions.  Learning happens during test. With this much learning, who needs test corrections?

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