Author Topic: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?  (Read 2930 times)

MayDay

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Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« on: March 15, 2017, 11:09:03 AM »
Math facts tests for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division seem to be par for the course in our district for K-3 anyway.

DS, 9 years old, 3rd grade is very advanced at math.  But he spent the first 2 quarters of 3rd grade missing 1 or 2 problems every time on the stupid addition facts test.  He had to get 100% to pass.  We ignored the whole thing and told him not to worry about it, just try to go slower and take his time.  Eventually he passed.

Finally he is now on to multiplication, with about 9 weeks of school left.  There is no possible way he can pass them all now, at a rate of 1 test a week.  Perhaps it was parental error that we weren't quizzing on multiplication at home all fall while he was plotzing along on addition. 

If you have gotten this far and wonder WhyTF it matters, we just found out they have to pass the multiplication tests to go into advanced math next year.  Thus I am wondering if others have had similar situations, and how you dealt with it? 
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emily2244

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2017, 11:32:24 AM »
This is the problem with school, in general. I have a kid who loves math and is awesome at understanding concepts, spatial stuff, calculating in his head, and applying math in programming. But he is NOT going to fill out a worksheet of math facts. If he were forced to, I'm sure he'd get a bunch wrong even though it is easy for him. He'd be thinking about something else.

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2017, 12:47:20 PM »
Math facts tests for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division seem to be par for the course in our district for K-3 anyway.

DS, 9 years old, 3rd grade is very advanced at math.  But he spent the first 2 quarters of 3rd grade missing 1 or 2 problems every time on the stupid addition facts test.  He had to get 100% to pass.  We ignored the whole thing and told him not to worry about it, just try to go slower and take his time.  Eventually he passed.

Finally he is now on to multiplication, with about 9 weeks of school left.  There is no possible way he can pass them all now, at a rate of 1 test a week.  Perhaps it was parental error that we weren't quizzing on multiplication at home all fall while he was plotzing along on addition. 

If you have gotten this far and wonder WhyTF it matters, we just found out they have to pass the multiplication tests to go into advanced math next year.  Thus I am wondering if others have had similar situations, and how you dealt with it?

In my opinion, the ability to test out on the multiplication tables has ZERO to do with advanced math classes.  Advanced math classes are about visualizing the math concepts and having a "math mindset".   They start using calculators a lot in grade 5, after all, and they are only a little slower.

Knowing the math facts is like knowing how to spell,  it sure helps you go faster when you write, but you can know how to spell an be a lousy writer.

I would argue for placement in advanced math, despite the multiplication tables...but you will need to show how your child understands math at a high level.  Maybe ask for one of those numerical ability tests, that don't test what was taught  - but are more like an IQ test on what you can do.  (patterns, visual / spatial, word problems, etc).


dividendman

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2017, 02:15:43 PM »
Arithmetic is to mathematics as spelling is to poetry.

MayDay

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2017, 02:30:43 PM »
Thanks all. You are confirming my opinion. I'm an engineer whose taken plenty of advanced math and still calculate out multiplication of higher odd numbers.

I see the ability to quickly calculate that 7x9 is 7x10-7 as more valuable than having it memorized.

In terms of testing he has had IQ testing done, and in a few weeks I think he does another round of it. 3rd grade is the Great Year of Standardized Tests.  His IQ two years ago was 120, ~90%. So high but (I assume) not profoundly gifted.
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iowajes

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2017, 02:32:34 PM »
Sorry you are going through this.
I have a Master's degree in mathematics, and I was still counting on my fingers for some things while doing it.  I mean I KNOW them now (I didn't in elementary school- I had terrible recall), but it's just easier to use my fingers.

Keeping a kid with good conceptual understanding out of advanced math because they don't have perfect recall is ridiculous.

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2017, 02:41:33 PM »
Sorry you are going through this.
I have a Master's degree in mathematics, and I was still counting on my fingers for some things while doing it.  I mean I KNOW them now (I didn't in elementary school- I had terrible recall), but it's just easier to use my fingers.

Keeping a kid with good conceptual understanding out of advanced math because they don't have perfect recall is ridiculous.

I'm an engineer, god help me if I have to do any sort of long division by hand these days...

Also, I had to look up what "Math Facts" were.  Never heard it called that before.
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boarder42

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2017, 02:46:45 PM »
what the heck is math facts?  like memorizing 9x7 is 63 ? 1+1 is 2 etc?
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sol

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2017, 02:47:22 PM »
We have drilled all of our kids at home with flash cards.  You have to play the game you're in, not the game you prefer.

GizmoTX

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2017, 02:59:59 PM »
DS was diagnosed with dyscalculia in the 2nd grade. He's always been logical & could grasp mathematical concepts -- he was solving long division problems using manipulatives in kindergarten (Montessori school). Math facts were a nightmare until he finally could memorize them, especially the multiplication tables, which he had to relearn 5 times. We had him work on a page of various grade appropriate drills every day during summer vacations so he wouldn't get behind the next grade. Every time we went out to eat we challenged him (in a fun way) to calculate the tip & the total. By middle school drills were no longer necessary, & he pushed to be admitted into advanced math (algebra) rather than his general math track. His school agreed to a trial & his teacher met him for after school problem solving -- it worked. After a lot of deliberation, we advised our son not to pursue the honors section in high school because it went faster & not as deep as the regular section of math, and not to do AP math because most engineering schools prefer students to learn 'their' math curriculum. Last May he graduated with a B.S. in Math, Cum Laude, as well as a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, also Cum Laude.

Yes, I absolutely agree that you should focus on getting your child considered for what he is capable of. If the advanced class depends upon skills he doesn't yet have, then perhaps more arithmetic work is called for to prepare him -- you don't want him failing.

Prairie Stash

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2017, 03:05:35 PM »
If you have gotten this far and wonder WhyTF it matters, we just found out they have to pass the multiplication tests to go into advanced math next year.  Thus I am wondering if others have had similar situations, and how you dealt with it?
What difference does going into advanced math at 9 years old make? Are you pushing for your child's best interest? In your query you didn't explain why it matters if they're in advanced class, I'm actually curious what benefits they get out of it?

AlanStache

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2017, 03:09:52 PM »
To the original question I guess you have to figure out what your options are, can DS test into advanced math, can he take some form of summer school, can he do more than one math fact chapter per week...?  The system cant be so bad that taking calculus in HS is now out of the question because of some 2nd grade quizzes (I hope... I pray... please...!).

The memorization of multiplication tables is dumb (but part of a game you have to play).  I never had them all memorized, and have still done very well.
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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2017, 03:12:30 PM »
If our kids have trouble in a subject, we work with them and/or force them to work at it until they are getting it.  Kid 2 had trouble with reading in first grade, now he's advanced because we forced him to read.  School is more than facts, it's learning discipline (ie playing the game).

To follow up on above, you seem to feel your son is ready for advanced math.  How do you determine that?

MayDay

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2017, 03:16:44 PM »
They don't call them times tables at our school because they are doing it for addition, substraction, and multiplication.

Cromacster, what would you call it?

I looked up his IQ testing results and his processing speed score was ~20% percentile, which is a good explanation for why the times tests are hell but he scores at 10-11th grade level in the subject material testing (MAP).

He also just informed me that he has to pass some standardized science test to accelerate because they group math and science together. Good lord, could they make this any more convoluted?

The school is not widely advertising this stuff, presumably so 97 parents don't send a barrage of emails and phone calls about their Precious. But I sent an email off to the administrator whom I believe is in charge of this. Ugh.
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MayDay

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2017, 03:20:25 PM »
If you have gotten this far and wonder WhyTF it matters, we just found out they have to pass the multiplication tests to go into advanced math next year.  Thus I am wondering if others have had similar situations, and how you dealt with it?
What difference does going into advanced math at 9 years old make? Are you pushing for your child's best interest? In your query you didn't explain why it matters if they're in advanced class, I'm actually curious what benefits they get out of it?

He wants harder math because he knows everything they are covering.

ETA: the other reason from a parental perspective is that I think he should experience academic challenge before he gets to college.

If anything he should probably skip a grade or three in math but that is a logistical nightmare, and to get him to his true ability level he would be with such older kids that there would be social issues. So we re only considering options within the school's already established acceleration scheme. This scheme basically amounts to going up one grade level for math/science combo.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2017, 03:49:18 PM by MayDay »
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MayDay

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #15 on: March 15, 2017, 03:22:20 PM »
We have drilled all of our kids at home with flash cards.  You have to play the game you're in, not the game you prefer.

I'm happy to do this over the summer to catch up. Unfortunately they didn't spell out the rules of the game ahead of time.
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sol

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #16 on: March 15, 2017, 03:27:20 PM »
School is more than facts, it's learning discipline (ie playing the game).

This is exactly right.  The public school system is designed to generate employable graduates, and that means that in addition to having achieved basic academic proficiency, they also learn how to follow directions, acquiesce to authority, be diligent with difficult tasks, and quietly accept a certain amount of ridiculous bullshit.

The math facts memorization tests are just the grade school version of TPS reports.  You either learn to play the game, or you get removed from the game.  It's not really about how smart your kid is, so don't take it so personally.

Very few of the high school dropouts I know were too stupid to graduate.  Lots of successful people were bad students.  Don't confuse intelligence with test scores.

(For the record, I was one of those kids who destroyed all of the standardized tests, despite being only moderately bright, so this post is not an attempt to excuse my own failings.  I legitimately think standardized testing is a terrible metric.)

MayDay

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #17 on: March 15, 2017, 04:00:40 PM »
Sol, good points. My other kid is happy to play by the stupid rules, DS, not so much.

I'm trying not to see him through rose colored glasses. I don't want to challenge the school just because​my snowflake is special. I think the times tests are bullshit for all kids, not just mine. 

I emailed the assistant principal in charge of 4th grade class assignments and asked her. Will report back.



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dividendman

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #18 on: March 15, 2017, 04:32:58 PM »
It's like trying to be a computer programmer without learning how to type on a keyboard.  It will slow you down and ultimately hold you back from reaching full potential.

I don't think this analogy applies at all. Having fast Words Per Minute means little with programming. Most programming is reading, not writing, code. And the amount of code character-wise usually isn't so much that typing with two fingers would hold you back significantly. You can also get jobs without typing anything since it's usually all white-boarding.

In fact, a lot of the "old-timer" programmers/computer scientists I work with don't type very fast, some don't even use the home keys, etc. some can't type without looking at the keyboard, but man, they sure know their computer science and can run laps around me in figuring out more eloquent and optimized solutions to problems.

Math is really about dealing with abstract problems. Memorizing a pattern of symbols doesn't help at all with this. Knowing 4 + 4 = 8 is good if you understand .... + .... = ........     it's horrible if you just know that specific character pattern is valid.

dividendman

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #19 on: March 15, 2017, 04:47:23 PM »
Also, regarding just memorizing character patterns, you'll find that a bunch of kids can do that and then suck at simple algebra. Then you'll find the people who got the simple algebra will get smoked in trig/calc, and then some of those people will suck at college when you have to prove theorems and things you've never seen before. Why does this happen? I don't think it's because the concepts are that much harder (although they are more abstract), I think it's because memorization becomes less important at each of these stages and people use it a such a crutch.

All of this being said, you don't want to derive everything from first principles when you're in an exam because it takes too long so you want to remember stuff, but you want to be able to derive it all from axioms if need be.

arebelspy

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #20 on: March 16, 2017, 06:39:18 AM »
Having actually looked at the research of mathematics learning (I have a Master's Degree in Elementary Education, and have taken grad courses specific to teaching mathematics at an elementary level), I have to chime in and say that most of what's posted in this thread is wrong.  It's easy to say "meh, they're no big deal," but math facts specifically have a huge impact on a child's ability to do well in math early on, and thus have a solid base to build on.  Much more so than anything spacial, etc.

Math facts are like a 10 out of 10 in importance.  The reason is working memory.

Like how the average person can only hold 7ish numbers, thus why phone numbers are 7 digits.

If you're trying to solve a problem (say, a word problem) and you have to pause mid-problem to calculate 3x7, you'll likely get lost in the problem and screw it up.  If you just have that memorized, and need no working memory for it, you can keep the problem in your head, and have a much better chance at solving it.

Multi-step problems just become so much harder without math facts being memorized, because you chew up your working memory with trying to calculate the basic facts, and can't keep the steps in order, and are much likelier to make mistakes.

Further, while a fact like 5+7 is easy enough to calculate by hand (though sometimes kids still screw it up), try something like 9x7. Sure, you can add 7+7+7+7+7+7+7+7+7.  Try being eight years old, and doing that without screwing it up.  It's just much more efficient to memorize them, and much less likely to end with you making a mistake.

It sucks the school didn't tell you about it.  And I don't necessarily think it should be a REQUIREMENT to get into the advanced class.

On the other hand, your child should, with some drilling, be able to get them memorized in plenty of time.  9 weeks left is no problem.  Sure, as of right now, they can only do one test/week, so to do 12 seems impossible, but that's not the only solution.

Rather than approach it as a "fight" with the school, talk with them about how you can work together to show he knows those facts by the end of the year.  Maybe he can do two tests a week.  Maybe he can be verbally quizzed at the end on a mix of all of the multiplication facts.  Approach it as a partnership, and I think you'll see much more success.  Arguing about the usefulness of math facts will likely make the (teacher/admin/whomever) more stubborn. Acknowledging why they're important, and asking how he can show mastery by year's end will get you much further, IMO.

The problem is not with the math facts, it's with the school's rigid rules around the test taking/"proving" knowledge of them, and the requirement of them for a particular class.  Approaching them looking for a solution to that, rather than looking to tear down math facts, is the way to go.

Good luck!  :)
« Last Edit: March 16, 2017, 06:45:53 AM by arebelspy »
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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #21 on: March 16, 2017, 07:11:58 AM »
Having actually looked at the research of mathematics learning (I have a Master's Degree in Elementary Education, and have taken grad courses specific to teaching mathematics at an elementary level), I have to chime in and say that most of what's posted in this thread is wrong.  It's easy to say "meh, they're no big deal," but math facts specifically have a huge impact on a child's ability to do well in math early on, and thus have a solid base to build on.  Much more so than anything spacial, etc.

Math facts are like a 10 out of 10 in importance.  The reason is working memory.

Like how the average person can only hold 7ish numbers, thus why phone numbers are 7 digits.

If you're trying to solve a problem (say, a word problem) and you have to pause mid-problem to calculate 3x7, you'll likely get lost in the problem and screw it up.  If you just have that memorized, and need no working memory for it, you can keep the problem in your head, and have a much better chance at solving it.

Multi-step problems just become so much harder without math facts being memorized, because you chew up your working memory with trying to calculate the basic facts, and can't keep the steps in order, and are much likelier to make mistakes.

Further, while a fact like 5+7 is easy enough to calculate by hand (though sometimes kids still screw it up), try something like 9x7. Sure, you can add 7+7+7+7+7+7+7+7+7.  Try being eight years old, and doing that without screwing it up.  It's just much more efficient to memorize them, and much less likely to end with you making a mistake.

It sucks the school didn't tell you about it.  And I don't necessarily think it should be a REQUIREMENT to get into the advanced class.

On the other hand, your child should, with some drilling, be able to get them memorized in plenty of time.  9 weeks left is no problem.  Sure, as of right now, they can only do one test/week, so to do 12 seems impossible, but that's not the only solution.

Rather than approach it as a "fight" with the school, talk with them about how you can work together to show he knows those facts by the end of the year.  Maybe he can do two tests a week.  Maybe he can be verbally quizzed at the end on a mix of all of the multiplication facts.  Approach it as a partnership, and I think you'll see much more success.  Arguing about the usefulness of math facts will likely make the (teacher/admin/whomever) more stubborn. Acknowledging why they're important, and asking how he can show mastery by year's end will get you much further, IMO.

The problem is not with the math facts, it's with the school's rigid rules around the test taking/"proving" knowledge of them, and the requirement of them for a particular class.  Approaching them looking for a solution to that, rather than looking to tear down math facts, is the way to go.

Good luck!  :)

With only 9 weeks left, can't he just pass 1 test every other week and still have plenty of time to pass 12 tests?  Wait a minute.... did I forget to carry the 1?


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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #22 on: March 16, 2017, 07:22:00 AM »
With only 9 weeks left, can't he just pass 1 test every other week and still have plenty of time to pass 12 tests?  Wait a minute.... did I forget to carry the 1?

No carrying needed, just greater and less than.  :)

This is why I suggested alternate ideas that could be brought to the teacher (like 2/week, or a verbal quiz to show mastery).
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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #23 on: March 16, 2017, 07:48:48 AM »
I flunked multiplication tables "Math Facts" tests every time. They let me through, but I never did get chosen for advanced math classes in elementary school. It just made me think I was bad at math. It turns out I was just bad at timed multiplications tests.

It's kind of a shame - by the time I was in grade 9, I was scoring 100% on every math test, but I absolutely refused to go into gifted math classes. By that time, I was more worried about standing out than challenging my mind. I also felt that I didn't like math - a feeling that developed while struggling with timed multiplications tests. My high school teachers could never quite understand why I had such a bad attitude about math.

I think if you want your kid in advanced math classes, then you should drill the multiplications on flashcards until he memorizes them. Then you can argue that he shows marked improvement in that one weak area, which will bolster your argument.

I still struggle to do multiplications quickly, because I never did memorize them. Today I am a CPA. So I guess I didn't fail at life. But once in awhile, while trying to do math in my head, someone will say, "Aren't accountants supposed to be good at math?" and I will jokingly say "Nope, we have calculators for that." But its not really true. I'm excellent at math - just not "Math Facts."

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #24 on: March 16, 2017, 08:20:52 AM »
Is it the timed math facts? If he is just having trouble finishing them in the minute allowed but he really does know them. Would you be able to talk to his teacher to allow him to try in 2 minutes(or another different amount of time)? It might take some of the pressure off of him being timed and he would be able to prove that yes he does know the facts but the time factor is what is tripping him up. I know many kids who know the facts who are very competent but anytime you put a timer on something they freeze and cant do it anymore.

AlanStache

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #25 on: March 16, 2017, 08:30:22 AM »
...
If you're trying to solve a problem (say, a word problem) and you have to pause mid-problem to calculate 3x7, you'll likely get lost in the problem and screw it up.  If you just have that memorized, and need no working memory for it, you can keep the problem in your head, and have a much better chance at solving it.

Multi-step problems just become so much harder without math facts being memorized, because you chew up your working memory with trying to calculate the basic facts, and can't keep the steps in order, and are much likelier to make mistakes.

Further, while a fact like 5+7 is easy enough to calculate by hand (though sometimes kids still screw it up), try something like 9x7. Sure, you can add 7+7+7+7+7+7+7+7+7.  Try being eight years old, and doing that without screwing it up.  It's just much more efficient to memorize them, and much less likely to end with you making a mistake.
...

The procedure being tough for solving word problems would be to do calculations as you read?  Understanding my work-a-day engineering world is very dissimilar to a third grade math class but I would make a note of the 3 and 7 (and units!!!!) then after reading the problem and coming up with a basic flow of how to get the final answer then go back and work with the specific quantities. 

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MayDay

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #26 on: March 16, 2017, 08:44:54 AM »
...
If you're trying to solve a problem (say, a word problem) and you have to pause mid-problem to calculate 3x7, you'll likely get lost in the problem and screw it up.  If you just have that memorized, and need no working memory for it, you can keep the problem in your head, and have a much better chance at solving it.

Multi-step problems just become so much harder without math facts being memorized, because you chew up your working memory with trying to calculate the basic facts, and can't keep the steps in order, and are much likelier to make mistakes.

Further, while a fact like 5+7 is easy enough to calculate by hand (though sometimes kids still screw it up), try something like 9x7. Sure, you can add 7+7+7+7+7+7+7+7+7.  Try being eight years old, and doing that without screwing it up.  It's just much more efficient to memorize them, and much less likely to end with you making a mistake.
...

The procedure being tough for solving word problems would be to do calculations as you read?  Understanding my work-a-day engineering world is very dissimilar to a third grade math class but I would make a note of the 3 and 7 (and units!!!!) then after reading the problem and coming up with a basic flow of how to get the final answer then go back and work with the specific quantities.

This is part of why my attitude is what it is. Who works that all out in their head? You put it in Excel in steps, or write it out, if you are solving a hard problem.

Our work with him at home has been 90% on organizing his work on paper so that others can see what he is doing, and he can check his own work. Most of his homework is doing multiple step word problems. I figure anyone can plug numbers in a calculator, the real skill is being able to set up those equations.

ARS, that is how I plan to approach it with the school, by asking about how we can prove he knows this. His classroom teacher is pretty rigid ("this is what the principal says" with no further discussion) so I will probably have to go above her, this the email to the assistant principal to clarify how she assigns classes for next year.

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #27 on: March 16, 2017, 08:51:00 AM »
We have drilled all of our kids at home with flash cards.  You have to play the game you're in, not the game you prefer.
+1
I agree with you MayDay and others. I want my kid to really be able to problem solve, not just rattle off math facts. That said, when I feel like he understands the concept and can problem solve given the time then we start drilling him at home so he can pick up in speed. We usually do flashcards in the summer. So last summer (summer before 2nd grade) he practiced 1-2 addition and subtraction facts until he had them all memorized. This year he was introduced to multiplication concepts, and we'll drill the multiplication facts this summer prior to 3rd grade.

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #28 on: March 16, 2017, 09:15:18 AM »

Further, while a fact like 5+7 is easy enough to calculate by hand (though sometimes kids still screw it up), try something like 9x7. Sure, you can add 7+7+7+7+7+7+7+7+7.  Try being eight years old, and doing that without screwing it up.  It's just much more efficient to memorize them, and much less likely to end with you making a mistake.


I think some of it is how it is tested.  For the timed fact tests I was required to give as a teacher, I hated it- as it was just recall, and kids did not understand what they were doing.  But other kids who had poor recall, but understanding failed the timed test, because they needed to think.

I love when a kid is able to say "I can't remember 7 x 6, but I know 7 x 5 is 35, and then I add 7 more, and I get 42." and understand how the facts are built and the numbers are related then just remember from flash cards.  However, that kid is likely to not finish in time, because they have to think.  They GET how numbers relate to each other.

It's like how standard algorithm for multi-digit multiplication is way more efficient than partial products for numeric calculations; but then when you get to algebra, students don't understand that what they've been doing this whole time IS the distributive property, and multiplying polynomials is some crazy new thing.  Kids who learned the 'why' behind partial products can look at polynomial multiplication and be like "yep, we've got this"


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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #29 on: March 16, 2017, 09:17:53 AM »
My oldest was similar.  High IQ, low processing speed.  Good at math but never quite mastered the math facts stuff that shows up about 3rd grade.

The trick I have found, OP, is to be polite and persistent and physically go in to the school and keep asking the central questions "Is X best for my child?  How do we get X for my child?"  There is almost always a way to make stuff happen if you can find the right people and present the right face to them.  I.e., assume that they want to be on your team and want what is best for your child too.  (In my experience most of them do, except a few of the older ones who are worn out and just biding time until they can retire.)

Physically showing up is important.  Emails are easy to ignore but a parent in their office is usually something that they realize they need to satisfy in order to get you out of their office.  And showing up is moderately inconvenient for you also, so they know that you're committed, which means you're more likely to persist until you get what you want and also more likely to raise h*ll with their superiors or run for the school board and become their boss if they don't take care of you.

Finally, back on the processing speed thing - if your IQ report is from a school psychologist or even a private psychologist, then, at least around here where I live, you can take that into the school and get your child labeled with a deficiency, and they have to accommodate it.  I think the terms they use here are an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) or a section 504 plan.  For processing speed, a typical accommodation would be to give them more time (probably twice to three times) to do the math fact speed tests.  It is something not to be taken lightly, though, as that will go into their school record and you may not want that as it could become a stigma on the part of the teachers or a crutch in your son's mind, depending on how you treat it and manage it with the school.

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MayDay

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #30 on: March 16, 2017, 10:18:36 AM »
secondcor, he has an IEP for ASD.  If showing up as you suggested is not effective I will have to request that we open his IEP.  Right now he doesn't require any extra time for testing, as he is bright enough that for most things he can overcome his slow processing speed.  Math facts being a current exception.  Hopefully I will hear back that passing the timed tests is just a guideline and this will all be for nothing!

You are spot on that showing up works well- I am meeting the speech therapist today after school in person for just that reason- the other advantage to this is they will tell you things off the record that they would never commit to writing!

iowajes- that is exactly how he solves the biggest multiplication facts- and its how I do it too.  I don't know if ARS was serious about adding 7+7+7.......  do kids really do that?  To me (and I'm not a math education expert by any means) that indicates a lack of number sense, which memorizing facts won't help.  Which, I'd rather solve that than make them memorize the answer. 

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #31 on: March 16, 2017, 11:08:50 AM »
My son, in 3rd grade, is doing math facts tests.  They test about once a week.  He used to have to do a 1 minute times test at home each night, last year, but not this year.   I actually think they are important and help teach fluency of basic math skills.  However, the children are allowed to move on to the next number after they pass with an 80% correct score on 20 problems in 1 minute.  His school also doesn't use it as placement in classes. 
A general note, kids are already learning basic algebra in 3rd grade and having these math facts down makes solving the problem easier.  Part of the common core math is that they are incorporating many advance math concepts at an early age and teaching them many different ways of solving them.  They also still teach "old math" or what I used to learn as well.

Math and reading are not my son's strong suits, so if he develops fluency in basic math skill, it will make other aspects of his life easier.  If you use money, you need to know math. 

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #32 on: March 16, 2017, 11:41:44 AM »
I think some of it is how it is tested.  For the timed fact tests I was required to give as a teacher, I hated it- as it was just recall, and kids did not understand what they were doing.  But other kids who had poor recall, but understanding failed the timed test, because they needed to think.

I love when a kid is able to say "I can't remember 7 x 6, but I know 7 x 5 is 35, and then I add 7 more, and I get 42." and understand how the facts are built and the numbers are related then just remember from flash cards.  However, that kid is likely to not finish in time, because they have to think.  They GET how numbers relate to each other.

It's like how standard algorithm for multi-digit multiplication is way more efficient than partial products for numeric calculations; but then when you get to algebra, students don't understand that what they've been doing this whole time IS the distributive property, and multiplying polynomials is some crazy new thing.  Kids who learned the 'why' behind partial products can look at polynomial multiplication and be like "yep, we've got this"

This is essentially where I got left behind as a kid.

Until college, I just figured I was "bad at math." Whatever, I rocked every other subject (except Chemistry, which was math by another name).

I vividly remember third grade multiplication tables, and just being told to memorize it. I think I may have been absent whatever day there was a more comprehensive explanation (I got strep throat about a million times in third grade). I just stared at the 9x9 grid of numbers and glossing over.

From that point forward, I was pretty screwed. Somehow I still ended up in advanced math classes, which probably made the problem worse. Nobody took the time to explain what the underlying processes were, and I'm just one of those people who needs to understand why and how. Telling me to shut up and memorize is like dropping an boat out of an airplane and expecting it to fly.

Now I know it was really just inadequate instruction, but man did math make me feel stupid as a kid.
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iowajes

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #33 on: March 16, 2017, 12:32:26 PM »

Until college, I just figured I was "bad at math." Whatever, I rocked every other subject (except Chemistry, which was math by another name).


Now I know it was really just inadequate instruction, but man did math make me feel stupid as a kid.

College was where I found out I was actually really good at math. Inadequate instruction is what made me want to be a teacher, but a bad job market is what made me not be one.  Oh well. I still kind of look back at my childhood math and wonder how the heck I ended up doing math for a living.

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #34 on: March 16, 2017, 01:32:48 PM »
Those of you mentioning you want the higher order thinking and don't care about memorization: studies show not having the basics memorized inhibits higher order understanding.

E.g. if I'm explaining why you invert and multiply when dividing fractions, as a randomly picked example (this is a fun lesson, fwiw), not having basic facts down impedes the understanding.

If we're doing area and perimeter, and on each example problem you have to stop to work out 3x4 and 6x2, you'll have a much higher chance of losing the overall concept.

It's not the memorization that's important, it's the not having to waste working memory on it, so your focus can be understanding the concepts, instead of having to divert brain power to something that should/could be automatic.
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NoStacheOhio

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #35 on: March 16, 2017, 01:47:03 PM »
It's not the memorization that's important, it's the not having to waste working memory on it, so your focus can be understanding the concepts, instead of having to divert brain power to something that should/could be automatic.

That's great, but if I don't know what the hell it is, there's no way I'm going to be able to memorize it. It's just how my brain works.

I deal with cameras in my daily life. It's numbers, but not math per se. There's a bunch of related stuff that I just "know" without thinking about it, but I didn't get there by having someone tell me to memorize it without telling me what, exactly, I was memorizing.

I can calculate equivalent exposures in my head pretty easily (changing three different variables, but maintaining the same overall exposure/brightness), but I needed to understand the variables first.
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jeninco

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #36 on: March 16, 2017, 01:49:50 PM »
As a long-time math volunteer (with a MS in Applied Math) I'm going to back up ARS here -- it turns out to be really important to know the math facts. I've seen this all over the place from 5th grade up, but today's example is a HS student who is trying to pass Geometry to graduate. Every time we approach computing the area of a circle we have to pause while she thinks about the value of r * r. And if I ask her to estimate the area by assuming pi is a little bigger than 3, it takes so long I'm not sure she even remembers what problem we're working on. (When we worked on finding the area of a segment of a circle I'm pretty sure she wandered so far off into the weeds computing the area of a triangle that she honestly forgot what we were doing.)

Summary: students need to know math facts by 5th grade, or it starts to hinder their ability to learn new concepts. Because if they don't know the "facts" there is a large pause in the execution of new concepts while they take care of the arithmetic part, and it's hard to return to the original task. It's ARS's "working memory" point, again.

(Another example: in Algebra 1, they'll need to be able to factor equations. Which they can't do unless they can rather fluently factor numbers. They'll need it again in calculus...)

There are a variety of ways to get your student to drill themselves on this, ranging from flashcards to online tools. As Nike says, "just do it." (And don't make a big production out of it, if possible.) You'll be doing your student a huge favor.

(This semester's student is female: no gender-specific implications are implied here.)

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #37 on: March 16, 2017, 02:03:48 PM »
Those of you mentioning you want the higher order thinking and don't care about memorization: studies show not having the basics memorized inhibits higher order understanding.

E.g. if I'm explaining why you invert and multiply when dividing fractions, as a randomly picked example (this is a fun lesson, fwiw), not having basic facts down impedes the understanding.

If we're doing area and perimeter, and on each example problem you have to stop to work out 3x4 and 6x2, you'll have a much higher chance of losing the overall concept.

It's not the memorization that's important, it's the not having to waste working memory on it, so your focus can be understanding the concepts, instead of having to divert brain power to something that should/could be automatic.

There should be an AA for this "Hello my name is Cat, and I resent being asked to memorize multiplication tables."


In all seriousness, I sometimes wonder how much time I have wasted thinking about multiplications just because I was never forced to memorize them. I (and my parents) had the same belief as others here - memorization is silly, Cats should understand math, not memorize it. The problem with fighting is that you have 9 more weeks of these tests and you could probably drill the kid well enough to pass every single one of them by spending 15 minutes a night on this and then for the rest of his life, these memorized multiplication tables will rattle around in his head.

Who cares if it's useful? #1 - multiplication tables don't go away, they continue to plague us all in life forever - he'll probably use these memorized math facts; #2 - there will be lots of other things to memorize in the future of his schooling, including a lot of things less useful than multiplication tables. Fighting the fight to not memorize useless things in school is a waste of time.

If my parents had sat me down and drilled flashcards with me it would have saved me a lot of stupid Math Facts anxiety about timed math facts tests and helped me get over the fact that sometimes you just have to sit down and memorize seemingly dumb $h!t.

sol

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #38 on: March 16, 2017, 02:08:42 PM »
sometimes you just have to sit down and memorize seemingly dumb $h!t.

This is one of the key lessons public education is designed to instill.

Specifically that you need to SIT, quietly and obediently, and focus on a particular task that you may not like very much.  This is the number one skill required by the US economy.

Humans are not designed for cubicles, but mandatory public education does a pretty good job of training them.

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #39 on: March 16, 2017, 02:17:17 PM »
sometimes you just have to sit down and memorize seemingly dumb $h!t.

This is one of the key lessons public education is designed to instill.

Specifically that you need to SIT, quietly and obediently, and focus on a particular task that you may not like very much.  This is the number one skill required by the US economy.

Humans are not designed for cubicles, but mandatory public education does a pretty good job of training them.

Sol, I don't think we disagree on the main point here, so I'll point out that kids can memorize multiplication facts while bouncing on an exercise ball, running laps around the backyard, going on a bike ride with their parents -- whatever works for your family. I've done addition facts with kids on a giant hopscotch board I drew on the playground in the form of a 100's chart. When I asked them to add 11, they had to jump diagonally (up a row for the 10's, and over one place for the 1's).

It's only to take the test that they need to sit still, and (as has been mentioned by others) that's not for very long.

And I'd argue that being able to focus on a task you may not like very much is part of learning to be an adult.

MayDay

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #40 on: March 16, 2017, 03:19:07 PM »
Upon reflection I don't disagree that it's helpful to have a working knowledge of some number of math facts. I'm not sure how helpful it is to require kids to write down the answer to a bunch of them with 100% accuracy in 5 seconds per problem.

DS misses them because he is hurrying- on his 3's test he finished on time but added 3x6 and 3x7 instead of multiplying. Will he eventually get a perfect 3's time test done in time? Yes. Will it take a few weeks? Probably. Will me quizzing him on flashcards or the computer help? I doubt it because he already knows the answer.

Now I do think it will help to quiz him for the higher number ones. He'll end up memorizing enough of them if I quiz him that he'll go faster. But we won't even get to the higher number ones by the end of the year because we'll still be plugging along at 3's, waiting for the perfect score so he can move on.

I guess ultimately my criticism is that they have to go so fast and be perfect and have to write it (my experience with 3rd graders is that a decent percent still get slowed down by writing and/or pressure to go fast). I'd rather see the school be a little more flexible to allow a parent volunteer to quiz the kids verbally, or to not require perfect scores, or something.

Anyway, I have a meeting at the school tomorrow.
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galliver

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #41 on: March 16, 2017, 04:49:30 PM »
#2 - there will be lots of other things to memorize in the future of his schooling, including a lot of things less useful than multiplication tables. Fighting the fight to not memorize useless things in school is a waste of time.

If my parents had sat me down and drilled flashcards with me it would have saved me a lot of stupid Math Facts anxiety about timed math facts tests and helped me get over the fact that sometimes you just have to sit down and memorize seemingly dumb $h!t.

I can't believe this took so long to come up. Memorizing is a worthwhile skill in its own right! So is learning how to study/practice things you need to memorize...today it's math facts, tomorrow it'll be the unit circle and French vocabulary and verb tenses. Then it will be terminology and formulas specific to economics or biochemistry. Sometimes you get a formula cheat-sheet in engineering school, but sometimes you don't.

So...do flash cards. If writing is slowing him down, do written tests. Quiz him verbally in the car. Praise him along the way for working so hard on something that's difficult!  Reward him! Make it a battle you are fighting together, not a chore.

Maybe he already knows it, but that's not enough at 5 seconds per problem. It needs to be like muscle memory, like reflex. I take dance classes; I knew the constituent steps of the dance style after the first class they were introduced...but we keep drilling them in every class, over and over, because you don't just need to know, you need to know *instantly*. You don't have time to think about where your left foot/right foot/arm etc goes each time while also reading your partner's cues and thinking about styling. And you know what? When you get to that point, it becomes more fun because it's not confusing and frustrating anymore.

jeninco

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #42 on: March 16, 2017, 05:01:22 PM »
Upon reflection I don't disagree that it's helpful to have a working knowledge of some number of math facts. I'm not sure how helpful it is to require kids to write down the answer to a bunch of them with 100% accuracy in 5 seconds per problem.

DS misses them because he is hurrying- on his 3's test he finished on time but added 3x6 and 3x7 instead of multiplying. Will he eventually get a perfect 3's time test done in time? Yes. Will it take a few weeks? Probably. Will me quizzing him on flashcards or the computer help? I doubt it because he already knows the answer.

Now I do think it will help to quiz him for the higher number ones. He'll end up memorizing enough of them if I quiz him that he'll go faster. But we won't even get to the higher number ones by the end of the year because we'll still be plugging along at 3's, waiting for the perfect score so he can move on.

I guess ultimately my criticism is that they have to go so fast and be perfect and have to write it (my experience with 3rd graders is that a decent percent still get slowed down by writing and/or pressure to go fast). I'd rather see the school be a little more flexible to allow a parent volunteer to quiz the kids verbally, or to not require perfect scores, or something.

Anyway, I have a meeting at the school tomorrow.

Good luck! For the record, I think third grade is a bit soon for multiplication fact tests: fourth grade makes more sense, partly for the reasons you've identified, partly for developmental reasons. Also, 90% seems like a good target for third graders...

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #43 on: March 16, 2017, 05:17:49 PM »
I'm gonna +1 the utility of having 'math facts' memorized. I never did it (too busy reading in the corner) and no teachers ever made me, and by the time we got to polynomials, it started to become a real problem that lasted through college Calc I. When the prof is demonstrating how to solve a problem on the board, it was really really hard to follow along when my brain couldn't fill in the necessary basic arithmetic.

That said, I did finish a science degree, and then another one, and then career-transitioned into a technical field that requires significant problems-solving, so not having them are not the end of the world either.

But damn if I don't feel fucking stupid still sometimes when I'm counting on my fingers. /too personal

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #44 on: March 17, 2017, 01:39:33 AM »
sometimes you just have to sit down and memorize seemingly dumb $h!t.

This is one of the key lessons public education is designed to instill.

Specifically that you need to SIT, quietly and obediently, and focus on a particular task that you may not like very much.  This is the number one skill required by the US economy.

Humans are not designed for cubicles, but mandatory public education does a pretty good job of training them.

HA!  I remember memorizing flashcard multiplication facts as a child.   I had to make up a goofy "jump around" dance with different rhymes and body motions to get the numbers to stick. Shout it out for the win!  (Definitely not sit and be quiet sort of stuff).  And I am freaking awesome with numbers and math and all that. 

My kids sort of refused to learn math facts at the right age (grade 3 or so), just some of them, and then picked it up "for real" in grade 6 when it became a barrier to learning the good stuff.   I helped them in grade 6, and because they had made up their minds to learn it as the easier way out, they did, and pretty quickly. 

Despite not having his math facts down, DS was put in enriched math class in grade 4, and did not need to know math facts -- it was all higher order thinking / problems related to math, not really requiring a lot of computation in one's head.   Although knowing one's math facts is very helpful to me, personally, as an engineer, it had no relevance on DS's enriched math class.

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #45 on: March 17, 2017, 01:11:51 PM »
Am sorry you are having these challenges. I have raised 4 kids in many different school districts.  I agree with Sol's comments 100%. This system (right or wrong) is the one you are in. You need to learn to navigate it or abandon it -- it is a game to be played.

Your son sounds bright and sloppy-- welcome to the human race. This is me, my husband and all of the kids.  I would make this into a game at home for him -- home made flash cards (by him). Focus on the multiplication that is hard for him. If he is getting 95% of the 2 times, move on to the 3 and 4s. If you want, let him time himself at home to get his accuracy up. Reward him!! Stop practicing the ones he knows 'cold'.  I would try to surround him with the facts in all different ways -- I have just looked at multiplication songs on youtube, -- let's sing those during breakfast time(!).  There are lots of teaching tools online to increase the gamesmanship of this. I used to subscribe to one that generated games from vocab words that I submitted. Very easy stuff.   If you vary the practice, it won't seem like work. It will seem like a game. You could play a 'concentration' matching game with flashcards that show the multiplication and other cards that show the correct answer. You could play with him.

Anyway, I hope this helps you. Challenging the system can be very useful -- I did it several times for different children. It is never easy. Am not sure I would challenge for multiplication tables. My strong suggestion is to make it fun and hit it hard from multiple angles constantly until he has climbed the mountain they want him to climb.

jeninco

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #46 on: March 17, 2017, 01:50:22 PM »
Am sorry you are having these challenges. I have raised 4 kids in many different school districts.  I agree with Sol's comments 100%. This system (right or wrong) is the one you are in. You need to learn to navigate it or abandon it -- it is a game to be played.

Your son sounds bright and sloppy-- welcome to the human race. This is me, my husband and all of the kids.  I would make this into a game at home for him -- home made flash cards (by him). Focus on the multiplication that is hard for him. If he is getting 95% of the 2 times, move on to the 3 and 4s. If you want, let him time himself at home to get his accuracy up. Reward him!! Stop practicing the ones he knows 'cold'.  I would try to surround him with the facts in all different ways -- I have just looked at multiplication songs on youtube, -- let's sing those during breakfast time(!).  There are lots of teaching tools online to increase the gamesmanship of this. I used to subscribe to one that generated games from vocab words that I submitted. Very easy stuff.   If you vary the practice, it won't seem like work. It will seem like a game. You could play a 'concentration' matching game with flashcards that show the multiplication and other cards that show the correct answer. You could play with him.

Anyway, I hope this helps you. Challenging the system can be very useful -- I did it several times for different children. It is never easy. Am not sure I would challenge for multiplication tables. My strong suggestion is to make it fun and hit it hard from multiple angles constantly until he has climbed the mountain they want him to climb.

There are tons of ways to "game-ify" this: the card game "24" is one thing to do (although it won't help memorizing 7s and 9s...

Agreeing that while it may be worthwhile to look for a little flexibility (95% pass rate, for example)  you'll want to keep your powder dry for the big items that will come up if you're an involved parent who's paying attention.

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #47 on: March 17, 2017, 04:39:06 PM »
I had a son who I had a difficult time learning his math facts.  I flipped those flashcards till my fingers were raw.  It was a frustrating experience for both of us, especially since I knew he was a smart kid.  I though he couldn't be trying.  I just think now he just wasn't and still isn't a memorizer.  He ended up an engineer who graduated near the top of his class. The harder the math got the better he did.

My youngest learned the math facts quickly but just isn't as good with critical thinking.  He is an engineer too, but he had a hard time in college.

I've had experience with pushing my kids into advanced classes. It was hit and miss and if I had to do it again, I think I would go with the recommendation of the school.     With the oldest (the one who couldn't learn his math facts), they gave him the choice as to whether he wanted advanced math (this was in 8th not 4th grade).  He chose no, I countered his no with a yes.  So I suppose I wasn't actually fighting the school but my son.  This ended up working out well because he did get better as the math got harder.
The youngest just got in and had no issues.
But the youngest wanted advanced English and the school didn't have him on the list.   He had a really smart class and only room for x number of kids.  He didn't make the cut, but they didn't give me any problems about putting him on.  He struggled, they wanted him off (with a B) but the only other English they offered was not college prep and I objected to putting him in an English class that wouldn't be preparing him for college so I fought the school and got him put back in.   I think this was a wrong move on my part.  He needed to earn his place in that class- he didn't.  Instead,  I fought for his place in that class.  I think that sent the wrong message, and I personally think looking back that I shouldn't have done it.

pbkmaine

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #48 on: March 17, 2017, 05:22:42 PM »
Dad quizzed me on my times tables every night at dinner until I had them cold. I still use them. Thanks, Dad!

marion10

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #49 on: March 17, 2017, 08:04:41 PM »
We bought something called a Holey Card I think that let you check your own work and some manipulatives that were a kind of lace up card. There are computer games as well. My kids had the same requirement  and I think it was a good one.