Timed math facts tests

Discussion in 'Second Grade' started by Curiouscat, Apr 21, 2012.

  1. Lysander

    Lysander Companion

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    May 13, 2012

    I did my graduate thesis on this, and discovered that timed tests CAN actually help students (albeit minimally), but only if they themselves are involved in charting their progress. I created a tracking sheet for my students when my school required timed tests. It had a place for the date, the test that student was on, their score that week, and whether they went up or down. Any time there was improvement, even if it was not a perfect score, was celebrated. When we stopped doing the timed tests, the kids actually missed them. They liked tracking their own progress. If you send me a private message, I will send you the tracking sheet I use. You can adapt it any way you like to fit your needs.
     
  2. teachtopia

    teachtopia New Member

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    Sep 17, 2013

    I recommend JapanMath. They have free printable quizzes. I like the format and kids liking being able to obtain Japan Math Mastery when the do well on each quiz.
     
  3. DrBill

    DrBill Rookie

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    Sep 24, 2013

    Hi,

    One of the best things you can do for math facts is go to ReflexMath.com and apply for one of their grants. All they do is Math Facts, and they are hands down, the best web based program for that.

    As far as grade level expectations, I would say that fluency means the same length of time it takes them to answer the question, ""What is your name?"" is what you are striving for.

    Good luck,

    Dr. Bill
    PD Corner
     
  4. lmk1212

    lmk1212 New Member

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    Feb 17, 2017

     
  5. lmk1212

    lmk1212 New Member

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    Feb 17, 2017

    I use time tests also. But teachers need to be careful on how they are administered. I have a grandson who physically cannot write fast even though he knows his facts. He once asked me "why would they make you do a paper you can't finish?" To take the test, we do the paper for the specific time and he is "graded" o how many write out of how many he attempted rather than out of the 25 on the paper. He might get 19/19. This has eased his anxiety and hatred of timed tests. He is just practicing for a minuted rather than trying to beat a clock that he can't. He is a second grader.
     
  6. lmk1212

    lmk1212 New Member

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    Feb 17, 2017

     
  7. Obadiah

    Obadiah Cohort

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    Feb 17, 2017

    Realizing there is a valid difference of opinion, I question if timed tests actually teach or even measure the objective of memorized recall. The goal is permanent memory with automatic recall and use, but a timed test also focuses on how quickly a child can write, refocus, read, how precisely a child holds a pencil, whether a child avoids other avenues of responsive errors, and how attentively a child can concentrate even under pressure. It also measures a child's emotional stability. It's an unusual paper to complete; suddenly, rather than being told to take your time and check for accuracy and write neatly, the student is told to just get it done, (but then again, it must be legible). Because it is a "test" under stressful conditions of a timer, cortisol can interfere with new learning. Frankly, I question if a timed test is more of a psychomotor exercise rather than an arithmetic exercise.

    When I was in 10th grade, my driver's ed instructor certainly was teaching automatic responses in driving, but I dare say he didn't have us drive around the block at 100 MPH.

    If a student automatically recalls facts, s/he will naturally use them with an adequate and efficient speed. This speed will vary among individual students. In real life, does it truly matter if a person is more comfortable taking a couple extra seconds to calculate?

    Perhaps a better way to memorize is still the old fashioned way. Take a few facts at a time. Rather than expensive store bought flashcards, have the students create their own with index cards; they'll remember better what they create. Explain and demonstrate how to memorize so that the fact can be recalled without fingers or counting in the head. Drill with partners, then put the facts away a day or two and see if they are still memorized. This helps "insulate" the newly developed electrical pathways in the brain. Once the few facts are mastered, move on to others. In the meantime, delay the practice of the mastered facts for about a week and recheck again, to further insulate the pathways; (mistakes in recall are good, not bad--correcting such recall errors is how the brain strengthens pathways of memorized information, and the locale memory from the extra practice adds more pathways for further recall strength). At the same time, these facts should be connected with realistic applications. Students, especially with today's typical math books, mis-learn that arithmetic facts are one thing and application (often as a token story problem at the end of a page) is another separate thing. I find it especially useful to have students act out applications to facts using either manipulatives or pretend invisible objects.
     
  8. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Feb 17, 2017

    Interesting comments Obadiah, and valid in terms of whether the timed assessments evaluates skills taught in either instructional conditions or real-world conditions.

    A few thoughts:

    1) When giving instructions for a timed assessment (and assessments in general), I'd try to not make things really high-stakes and add to pressure
    2) If I have a sense that my timed assessment doesn't really represent the student's actual mastery of material, I might give a follow up assessment in an un-timed format, then compare. I would try to get a sense of why there was a difference in performance - you bring up a number of reasons why performance may change across conditions. I would then be sure to communicate this difference in performance when communicating grades, reports, etc. I would also try to remediate the issue causing the lower levels of performance in the test/timed condition
    3) Timed conditions aren't irrelevant - while mastery of facts is okay, fluent math computation is a basic building block of higher level math. Taking an excessively long time to compute addition, for example, can impact later performance. Similarly, while fluency of math facts, in particular, may not have be of huge importance, fluency with reasoning, etc., in general is important in real-world applications. There are plenty of jobs that you need to be able to work not only accurately, but quickly.

    So, I'm not totally disagreeing with you, and I can certainly see situations when moving beyond the timed condition would be important. However, I don't see timed tests as fundamentally flawed or irrelevant.
     
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