Working through some NY State test questions (2/3) 5th Grade

[this is the 2nd in a 3 part series. I’ll use the same introduction for each. The first post is here: ]

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?

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 second 5 questions – the 5 from the 5th 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 phrase describes the volume of a 3 dimensional figure?

It takes my younger son a bit of time to understand the question and answers. He eliminates the last two answer choices, though I’m not sure he understood the actual statements. He did seem to understand the difference between area and volume, though, and that helped him talk through the two answers that he thought might be correct.

I liked hearing my older son talk through the answer choices. Right off the bat, this question is making him think him more than the 3rd grade ones did.

Question 2:  What is the value of the following expression?  1,536 / 24 ?

I’ve not talked about long division with my younger son, so I was a little surprised when he started trying to do the long division.  He quickly hit a wall.  However, he didn’t give up and figured out that you could multiply the answer choices by 24 and see if you got 1,536.   That approach helped him find the answer and he was really happy when he found it.

My older son does know long division and was able to get the answer pretty quickly.  I showed him an alternate approach of multiplying and looking at the last digit.

Question 3: Which expression means the same as the following phrase? Subtract 3 from the product of 8 and 5.

I like this question better than the “number sentence” questions from the 3rd grade exam. My younger son spends a lot of time thinking about the four choices, so I was happy that this question got him thinking. My older son forgets the question was asking about subtraction rather than addition, but catches that mistake quickly. That little mistake does show how easy it is to understand the math on these tests but accidentally get the answer wrong.

Question 4: In which number does the 5 represent a value 10 times the value represented by the 5 in 35,187?

We’ve spent a lot of time on place value, so I thought this would be a pretty easy one. My younger son talks through it and gets to the right answer. My older son got a little confused.

Question 5: What is the value of 2/5 + 3/7 ?

I wasn’t sure how my younger son would react to this problem. We talked a little bit about fractions last year, but it has been a while. Both kids took the same approach of getting a common denoninator, though, and worked through the problem without a lot of difficulty. I talked about alternate approaches to answering this question with both of the boys, too.

My understanding is that one of the main selling points of Common Core math is to get kids to think more deeply about math concepts. Though these questions are a bit more advanced than the 3rd grade ones, there still isn’t a lot of depth.  It is obviously harder to emphasize deep thinking on multiple choice tests, but even given that point, these questions are really just facts and computation.

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