Thursday, November 8, 2012

Are your teachers having (math content) conversations?

Last week I suggested you could use the K-8 crosswalks, and create a “sidewalk” with your school or district’s 2012 MCAS test item analysis report. 

Here is an example using from the 2012 Grade 8 MCAS mathematics test.

Question #1 Multiple Choice
Reporting Category: Patterns, Relations, and Algebra(2001/4) Standard: 8.P.9 - Use linear equations to model and analyze problems involving proportional relationships. Use technology as appropriate. (Note: This standard is intentionally the same as 7.P.6.)

A cooking instructor stated that 5 pounds of roast beef is needed to serve 8 people. Based on the instructor’s statement, which of the following equations can be used to find r, the number of pounds of roast beef needed to serve 12 people?

The MCAS test item analysis report does not map this question directly to a new standard however if your students did not perform well on the question it still warrants consideration. Proportional reasoning and the ability to use multiple representations (words and equations or equivalent equations) are foundational concepts in mathematics.   A search in the crosswalks document for 8.P.9 brings up cross references to several new 7th and 8th grade standards. Furthermore you might see that this specifc test question most closely relates to, 7.RP.2c Represent proportional relationships by equations and 7.RP.3 Use proportional relationships to solve multistep ratio and percent problems.   So my question is, “Are your 7th and 8th grade math teachers having conversations?”

This is just one example and over the next weeks I’ll add others. Information, if you haven’t already looked, for MCAS Assessment Transition can be found at and ESE common core resources are available at

Moving forward I hope this blog becomes a forum to share our best practices so I encourage posting comments, questions and ideas. You can also reach me directly at If you use twitter, follow me @gbdsacmath for more news and resources supporting mathematics engagement, learning and excellence.

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