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Unexpected experience with end of year test for Math Mammoth


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#1 StephTX

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 09:53 AM

So I've seen it recommended to take the placement test, if available, for a curriculum before buying. That seems like solid advice, especially since my son will be transitioning from ps to hs and I need to see exactly where he is.

 

I've chosen Math Mammoth so I had him take their end of year for 3rd grade (as he is in 4th and I will be ordering 4th). He made a 65!!!! They recommend a student make between 70-80 % before moving onto the next level (using one's own judgment for careless errors and/or temporarily forgot vs lack of understanding). The thing is, he makes all A's at school and never really has any problems in math.

 

 

Now, to be fair, this is Christmas break and he wasn't exactly thrilled to have to take a long test while on break. Although I did break it up into several sections, it is entirely possible that at least some of it was attitude (and ready to get back to his new xbox Minecraft game *sigh*) A few things were careless mistakes, but not many.

 

The way the word problems were done was also different than what he is used to. He kept saying they sounded weird. I pulled out some of his current math work from school to compare them. What I noticed, was that the MM used more multi-step problems than his current work. He's used to word problems where he simply pulls the pertinent information out of it, and creates a simple equation with it. Only occasionally does anything require 2 steps. Almost all of MM's did. Also, MM had more emphasis on order of operations. From what I could tell, he's never done that at all.

 

There were things that have never to my knowledge been covered at school. If they were, it was quite briefly and this really angers me. I know that each program is different, some being more or less advanced than others, which of course would translate into being more or less advanced than the equivilent ps grade.

 

So many things I would have honestly thought he understood, he doesn't appear to. I really feel let down at what he has been taught. I never felt like his education was that inferior, but honestly, this makes me wonder. To be fair though, when I was in school, I could memorize something well enough to take a test, then forget it shortly thereafter. I'm wondering if he is the same way. He gets it while it's being taught, then poof, lets it go.

 

I am going to go ahead and order the 4th grade curriculum, as I can work on strengthening those weaker areas and he picks up things quickly. I know I will definitely have to watch carefully for what he has or has not previously been taught, and pay close attention to how much he is retaining. I also know I need to keep a very close watch on his little sister and what she is learning at ps (and probably make sure to incorporate some after schooling with her). Overall, a very eye opening experience.

 


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#2 OneStepAtATime

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 10:10 AM

I actually was able to order Math Mammoth, all levels, through Homeschool Buyer's co op, for not terribly much at all.  That way I have access to everything and if there is an area that needs additional work, I can go back a few lessons, or a lot of lessons, and solidify those concepts.  I had kids in a brick and mortar school and now that we homeschool I have finally learned to detox my brain from the public school mentality that grade level actually has much meaning.  It doesn't.  What matters is learning and MASTERING the material.  If there is material that hasn't even been covered, go back and cover it, thoroughly, even if you go back to material that MM labels as kinder or 1st or 2nd.  Your child will function far better in upper level math if he has a really solid foundation in basic math.  

 

Don't worry about the grade level.  The number really isn't very meaningful at all.  PS uses it because they have to move large numbers of kids through school and attempt to track some sort of progress.  It is an inefficient system that does not take into account different strengths and weaknesses and learning styles and developmental progression in each child.  You don't have to follow that system.  Work on getting basic math concepts solid, ignore the grade levels assigned to the material, and work hard to give him a strong grasp of things like place value, number patterns, how to break apart and work word problems, etc, and encourage a LOVE of learning, not just getting it done.  Incorporate lots of games for solidifying concepts, keep reviewing old concepts while mastering new ones, etc..  The higher math levels will be much easier to do and much easier to get through if you do that.

 

Best wishes to you and your family.


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#3 wapiti

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 10:12 AM

Personally, this is how I would look at the test results:  I would differentiate lack of familiarity with the type of word problems from an inability to perform arithmetic.  I would worry more about the areas he has not been exposed to and/or just isn't solid in (e.g. order of operations).  If he is solid with the major arithmetic topics of 4th grade math (multi-digit multiplication, long division, and maybe the intros to fractions and decimals), I'd just go through the lessons necessary to fill in holes on order of operations and proceed to the next level.  There's also a chapter on time and measurement in MM4 that could be done on its own if necessary.  Ch 1 of MM5 reviews basic arithmetic before plunging into much more detail than is in MM4 on how to solve word problems with bar diagrams.


Edited by wapiti, 12 January 2016 - 11:18 AM.

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#4 Veritaserum

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 10:36 AM

I really recommend new users to Math Mammoth go back to 1A and accelerate (do the reviews from each chapter until you hit a trouble spot, then go back into that chapter and learn the concept). You can buy bundles of 1-6 for a very low price. The first three levels of MM give a WONDERFUL foundation. When I was working with my oldest (weak in math), we accelerated through levels 1-3 in about two months. Then we slowed down as needed.
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#5 Hunter

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 11:16 AM

Is the end of year test suggested to be used as a placement test? Placement tests are usually different than end of year finals.

 

Every math curriculum has it's own vocabulary and methods. It's hard to jump into ANY math curriculum mid stream. I almost always find the need to purchase one or more lower levels to do some review first. Often I need to see later volumes, too, to see where some vague and incomplete lessons are leading.

 

Saxon 54 was originally written as an entry level test for gifted 4th graders and average 5th graders. It has changed over the years, and has had a primary curriculum added, but it's still easier to jump into Saxon 5/4 than many other math curricula. It still retains many of the features and reviews of an entry level text.


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#6 Chrysalis Academy

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 11:53 AM

OP, we had a very similar experience when my dd came home after going to ps through the 1st quarter of 4th grade.  She was fine with basic operations, but struggled with the word problems and with the measurement & geometry sections - they basically hadn't covered that stuff at all, or very perfunctorlly at the end of the year.  The first chapter of MM4 - mental math - was brutal for us.  This was another thing that hadn't been covered, and I realized that while dd could do operations, she didn't have a deep grasp of how numbers could be put together and pulled apart.

 

Two things:  first, the word problems.  This is a real strength of MM and similar programs.  It's where you really see if your kid understands the concepts and can apply them.  You can't just plug & chug.  As you noticed, they are often multi-step problems, and they will always require different operations - things studied before - not just the one covered in the lesson.  Taking the time to get comfortable with the language and setup is important, and will be well worth it.  Your son will have to change his expectations, and so will you, but it will be well worth it.

 

The second thing is a strategy for moving forward, and some encouragement.  MM4 chapter 1 was horribly difficult for dd, and I was really discouraged.  What I did was print out (from the set of free files you get access to when you buy MM) worksheets on the same topics, from 2nd grade, then 3rd grade, and have her work through those and then come back to the material in MM4.  It took a long time, but she really got it, and after the first chapter, was able to move through the rest of MM4 quickly.  So don't be afraid to back up as needed on specific topics, and really master the concepts.

 

Dd is now in 6th grade, doing preAlgebra, with excellent mental math skills and good at word problems.  I am so grateful to MM for helping to rescue her from falling into the "math pit" that a lot of kids do in ps 4th-5th grade!  


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#7 kiana

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 12:47 PM


The second thing is a strategy for moving forward, and some encouragement.  MM4 chapter 1 was horribly difficult for dd, and I was really discouraged.  What I did was print out (from the set of free files you get access to when you buy MM) worksheets on the same topics, from 2nd grade, then 3rd grade, and have her work through those and then come back to the material in MM4.  It took a long time, but she really got it, and after the first chapter, was able to move through the rest of MM4 quickly.  So don't be afraid to back up as needed on specific topics, and really master the concepts.
 
 
 
I think this is a really good idea.

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#8 StephTX

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 01:29 PM

Wow thanks for the insight!

 

He is adament that he will be returning to school next year or the year after. I am hoping he won't be, but I'm not forcing the issue right now as I want him to have a positive take on homeschooling.

 

That being said, I am concerned about going too far off grade level, because while I can see the value in reinforcing the basics (and therefore making the harder stuff easier to learn), I worry about not covering something ps has covered, if he goes back. I probably shouldn't be concerned with what they are and aren't doing in ps at any given point, it's just hard to split the difference. I'd like to be "all in" with homeschooling, but at this point, it's still up in the air. I definitely feel like that limits how far off the 'standard' set up we can venture for now.

 

I love the idea of being able to print out earlier level worksheets from MM though!! That sounds like a good way to start off reinforcing basics before moving into MM4. I've gone through the test and made notes of what things were careless, what he truly didn't know, and what he seems to have forgotten. That should help me with knowing exactly where he will need more review/work.

 

The concept of re-learning everything I think I know about education is quite daunting.

 


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#9 Elisabet1

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 01:37 PM

Coming out of public school, kids tend to test "below grade level."  However, in home school, you can move so fast that chances are, your child will be way ahead of grade level within a year or two. Just think, if your child ends up "on grade level" by home school standards, then you know your child is ahead of grade level by public school standards.

 

So don't stress!! Just start where he needs and move on from there! Do not stress about "grade levels."


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#10 Chrysalis Academy

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 01:47 PM

Coming out of public school, kids tend to test "below grade level."  However, in home school, you can move so fast that chances are, your child will be way ahead of grade level within a year or two. Just think, if your child ends up "on grade level" by home school standards, then you know your child is ahead of grade level by public school standards.

 

So don't stress!! Just start where he needs and move on from there! Do not stress about "grade levels."

 

I agree with this completely.  I felt like my dd was "behind" in 4th grade and worried about taking the time to catch up, but after putting in the work in 4th grade, she's now (in 6th grade) at least a year ahead of what her ps peers are doing - not that it should matter, but I understand that you have to consider this if the kid may be going back into ps.  But learning the concepts deeply now means that picking up the algorithms will be much easier, even if he is back in ps.

 

And, MM is aligned to the common core state standards, so if he's keeping up with his grade level in MM (easy to do in a homeschool setting) he will be fine re-entering ps at any point.


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#11 maize

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 01:57 PM

You could just start working through MM4 and if/when he struggles with something go back to where it is introduced in an earlier level until it clicks.
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#12 OneStepAtATime

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 02:29 PM

Please be aware that there is a lot of wasted time in a public school setting.  This is not to slam public school.  Over half my family teach in public school and I went through public school.   It is just a statement of fact.  You have plenty of time for your child to go back and solidify poorly understood concepts, learn concepts never covered and to just generally catch up, even if you went all the way back to 1st grade material.  Lessons will go by much more quickly because some material is already understood.  He can zip through the stuff he already knows as a general review,  and you can have him skip some math problems in areas that he is not struggling with.  You can spend more time on areas he hasn't been exposed to and still have plenty of time to move him back into grade level work, or even beyond grade level work.  Many, many parents have done this very successfully.

 

 If, however, you focus on that grade level number, not giving your child a solid foundation, and you try to push forward when basics aren't there, it will almost certainly cause greater issues in higher level math further down the line, and you may still have to go back later on.  Why not do it now?  You really do have the time.  In a ps classroom there really is a lot of time that is NOT spent learning.  Kids have to wait on administrative issues, changing classes, discipline issues, teacher work days, putting away and taking out materials, etc.  In a homeschool setting, you don't have to deal with that, or at least not at that level with that frequency.  You can cover in one day what it might take them three days to get through.  And you can go at the pace of your child.  If they get it, you don't have to wait on other kids or the school schedule.  You just move on.  When they struggle, you stick with it until they understand it.  Then, when you come back to that topic at a higher level later, they already have a solid foundation and can move through the next level far more smoothly.  The exception would be with an LD, but it doesn't sound like your child has any.  He just needs a better foundation.


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#13 Veritaserum

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 03:25 PM

A child without learning difficulties really can get through MM 1-3 in less than two months. It is so important to have a solid foundation. That foundation can be achieved through other ways, but I found it extremely helpful to take my daughter through MM so that we both had a thorough understanding of how she teaches as well as the concepts. It made me a much better math teacher.

I am working through MM4 with my 9yo right now (still in 4A). We like to play with the concepts by finding an appropriate Right Start Math card game. She might not finish all of level 4 this school year, but she is learning and understanding everything. That's the whole point. :)
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#14 readinmom

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 01:45 AM

When dd started, there were concepts she had never covered before in ps.  I wouldn't worry about it. 


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#15 StephTX

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 10:20 AM

 

The second thing is a strategy for moving forward, and some encouragement.  MM4 chapter 1 was horribly difficult for dd, and I was really discouraged.  What I did was print out (from the set of free files you get access to when you buy MM) worksheets on the same topics, from 2nd grade, then 3rd grade, and have her work through those and then come back to the material in MM4.  It took a long time, but she really got it, and after the first chapter, was able to move through the rest of MM4 quickly.  So don't be afraid to back up as needed on specific topics, and really master the concepts.
 
 
 
I think this is a really good idea.

 

 

So when you buy MM, you can download worksheets from other grades? I'm wanting to get printed books (my printer has a tendency to get mad at the computer and quits talking to it lol), I wonder if that would make a difference? I probably need to contact MM on that one I guess. But thanks so much for the tip!



#16 OneStepAtATime

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 10:31 AM

So when you buy MM, you can download worksheets from other grades? I'm wanting to get printed books (my printer has a tendency to get mad at the computer and quits talking to it lol), I wonder if that would make a difference? I probably need to contact MM on that one I guess. But thanks so much for the tip!

Well, when I purchased MM, I bought it through Homeschool Buyer's Co-op at a great price, but the whole thing is downloadable material, not pre-printed, The advantage is that you are purchasing everything, every grade level, for a really great price and it is pretty much ALL of the various MM materials, so you can use whatever is needed whenever you need it.  And you can print as many copies as needed, etc.  There is someone else with a thread on this board that is pursuing how to send that material to a place that will print and bind for low cost, if you are interested in looking into that option.



#17 Veritaserum

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 11:05 AM

I used to print MM. I usually sent it to a printer and had it bound as a workbook. Now I use an iPad app (Notability). We prefer that.
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#18 My3girls

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 11:29 AM

All 3 of mine "failed" the end of year test for their grade level in MM last summer after scoring A's and B's in public school. We used the first 3 months or so of our homeschool life filling holes then jumped in at grade level. The girls are doing well, now, and have scored 85% or better on their chapter tests. The difference in their mental math abilities is amazing, and their ability to explain to me the solution for a word problem is fantastic. I have much more confidence in their math foundation than I ever did when they were in ps. I wouldn't worry too much about the ps grade level, either. If you can spend a few months strengthening the weak spots then continue on in the appropriate MM level, he will most likely be ahead of his ps peers when/if he goes back.
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#19 Chrysalis Academy

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 10:48 AM

So when you buy MM, you can download worksheets from other grades? I'm wanting to get printed books (my printer has a tendency to get mad at the computer and quits talking to it lol), I wonder if that would make a difference? I probably need to contact MM on that one I guess. But thanks so much for the tip!

 

Yes.  When I first bought MM I bought the 4A printed worktext (as i wasn't sure at the time that it was "the one").  But when you sign up for Maria's newsletter, you get a file with 100s of worksheets, and a link to a worksheet generator.  I think that's where I got all the pre grade level worksheets I used initially.  Next time the HBC sale came along, I bought the whole thing, figuring that I had another child coming along, and besides, you could get 6 years of math curricula for less than one year cost of any other program I had looked at!  At that point, I had everything so it was easy to go back and forth between grade levels, accelerate, etc.  Definitely worth it.


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#20 ByGrace3

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 11:22 AM

Just FYI, Math Mammoth is on sale at the HSBC this month.
https://www.homescho...ium=website&c=1

#21 RootAnn

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 12:27 PM

 I am concerned about going too far off grade level, because while I can see the value in reinforcing the basics (and therefore making the harder stuff easier to learn), I worry about not covering something ps has covered, if he goes back. 

 

Let me see if I understand this: What he's covered so far in PS has not prepared him for MM4. But you are worried about dropping him back to MM3 to solidify his understanding of concepts and then getting through however much of MM4 you can that before next year that he won't have covered the material the PS has covered.  :confused1:  So you don't think you can cover as much (or more) than the PS in the same amount of time with a program you've already realized is solid, thorough and advanced?  :smilielol5:

 

:svengo:

 

 



#22 Above The Rowan

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 12:37 PM

I don't know if you have this option in your state, but my province has put online all of the curriculum guidelines that the schools follow. Basically, it says "by the end of 2nd grade, student should be able to: " and lists off all of the skills and abilities they should have coming out of that grade. 

 

I printed them off for the core subjects just to refer to should I ever be concerned if they are following generally the schools (we just started homeschooling and I am not going to be foolish enough to say that there will NEVER be circumstances that require them to go back to school). 

 

When my son did the placement testing for MM, he also failed his grade level. So we're actually just going to whip through from the beginning and slow down as we hit his "challenge point". As I'm going through all of this, I compared what he will know by the end of 2nd Grade MM to what his former classmates will at the end of 2nd Grade Public School? And he will be ahead, he will in fact be going into 3rd grade requirements. 

 

So I'm satisfied. He was a bit miffed at first that we started at Grade One stuff, but I said "it's just the first level - so we're going to start at the first and work as hard as we can - in homeschooling grades are not the be all and end all". And so he's fine now. 


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#23 OneStepAtATime

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 02:13 PM

I don't know if you have this option in your state, but my province has put online all of the curriculum guidelines that the schools follow. Basically, it says "by the end of 2nd grade, student should be able to: " and lists off all of the skills and abilities they should have coming out of that grade. 

 

Did the same thing and it helps you to keep an eye on what is expected in ps.  It might help guide you, StephenTX and help alleviate some of your fears.

 

However, I think you should know that the lists are not set in stone and don't guarantee that the children have mastered those concepts.  As many teachers in my family and friends who are teachers will tell you. those guidelines are frequently just words on paper.  They don't have the time to truly cover that material at a mastery level, no matter what is "expected" so they have to just keep moving forward, even if half the class doesn't get it.  Every single year my DD was in school, from 2nd grade on. chapters had to be skipped, concepts not covered or only covered cursorily because there wasn't time.  The assumption was that the material would be covered again the next year in more depth so surely they would get it later on....

 

StephenTX, I know you are worried that your child will not be prepared to go back into PS in the future if you go back and start with the early material to fill in the holes.  I had that same feeling at first myself, and I sympathize.  I felt that way until I was finally able to walk away from that mentality and look at the reality of the situation.  Going back and filling in the holes that weren't covered, or only covered poorly, when they were in a b&m will be a much greater service to dc than just trying to muddle through at grade level material, IMO.  Many, many parents have done this very successfully, and moved through to get to grade level or above grade level material quickly and efficiently.  MM is a good program.  If your child goes back into public even at the beginning of this next year, you have 8 months to review, fill in the holes and move forward.  You can cover a LOT more material in one day than they can in PS and in a lot more depth.  One on one instruction is more effective than instruction for a large group of children in most instances.  Unless there is an LD, that 8 months seems like quite a bit of time.  And your child will go back in not having the gaps that his peers do.  He will be ahead of the game, even if he doesn't get through all the material up through his current grade level...

 

And I commend you on questioning right away how to handle your concerns about the math and seeking advice, instead of just plowing ahead (wish I had questioned things much sooner than I did).  You care and your child will benefit from having such a caring parent.


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