Working through some NY State test questions (1/3) 3rd Grade

I saw this interesting link posted by a couple of people in the last few days:

How Would You Score On A Third-Grade Common Core Math Test?I

To say the least, there’s been a lot written about the Common Core standards and their impact on education in the US. I haven’t followed this debate carefully, nor have I learned much about the standards. With the release of these questions I thought it would be interesting to get a glimpse of testing done in one state. So for today’s Family Math project I asked each kid to work through each of the 15 questions. This post is about the first 5 questions – the 5 from the 3rd grade exam. My younger son will be going into 3rd grade this year and my older son will be going into 5th.

Question 1: Which fraction is equivalent to 2 / 8 ?

Not much of note on this problem. Both kids are familiar with fractions and both solve it in essentially the same way.

Question 2: If each side of a square has a length of 1 unit, which statement about the square is true?

I thought the answer choices for this question were strange – especially since I’m not sure that 3rd graders would understand the difference between mass and weight.  I enjoyed hearing my younger son talk through the difference between area and volume, though.

Question 3: Which number sentence can be used to determine the value of 72 / 9 ?

I was curious to see how this question would go since I’m not sure that either kid has ever heard the phrase “number sentence” before. My younger son was definitely confused in the beginning, but after reading the question again he did manage to make sense of the question. Again, it was nice to see his reasoning.

Question 4: What is 345 rounded to the nearest 100?

Interestingly here, both boys looked to eliminate obviously incorrect answers before finding the right answer. Despite not really doing much of anything in the way of these standardized tests, they seem to have picked up a few test taking strategies.

Question 5: What number goes in the black to make this number sentence true? 12 x 2 = ( ? x 2 ) + (2 * 2)?

Again, I wondered how the kids would react to the phrase “number sentence,” but it turned out that they basically ignored it. Both of them simply solved it by calculating. When I asked my older son for an alternate explanation, he showed how you could solve the equation by factoring a two out of the right hand side.

Not much to say about these questions. I didn’t feel that these questions were probing any deep concepts or taking any sort of unusual approach to elementary school math. They did get my younger son thinking, though, so I thought the exercise of going through these questions with him wasn’t a waste of time.


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