Weekly Math Updates

October 3, 2006


  • Utah U-PASS Scores
  • California Math Standards *
  • Parent Comment
  • Media Articles
  • Weekly Comic

Utah U-PASS Scores

Well folks, the "WOW" scores have been posted from the testing administered last Spring (school year 2005-06). I haven't had time to put them into *really* nice charts for you this week but I did jot down the grade and point increases below. if you want to look up individual school scores the instructions are below. The thing that you won't hear from ASD is the intense pressure we brought upon them last year and how teachers were bringing back more and more traditional math and supplementing Investigations to ensure kids knew their basic facts (the number one reason for the increase).

One curious thing is in looking at charter school scores (which are generally much higher than ASD), one anomaly stands out and perhaps one of you charter board folks can help me get the answer to this. Almost universally, the charters had very low math scores for second grade. They were fine at first and then grades above second, but second was well below state averages. I'd speculate that the test questions for second grade were probably quite different than what Saxon students are used to seeing and thus hurt their performance.

To view the scores for yourself and see individual schools scores go to:


To look at charter school scores, you have to select the charter in the name of the district and the name of the school and then click GO at the bottom. If a report page comes up that shows just a math percentage for the school, click it to go to the breakdown and annual comparisons.

These ASD improvements are hardly "WOW" level.

Grade Improvement over 2004-05 scores
1 5 points
2 3
3 1
4 1
5 1
6 3
7 7 (ASD says this is only remedial students and scores are almost 20 points lower than state averages)
Pre Algebra 3
Elementary Algebra 0
Geometry 3

What "smart" educators at the state ought to be examining is what Cache County Schools are doing. Compare their figures to ASD. Hmmm, smaller district, more local control, not using fuzzy math....nope, nothing to see here folks, move along. ;)

Grade ASD % Cache District % Variance (Cache is Higher)
1 81 90 9
2 82 90 8
3 78 91 13
4 79 90 11
5 80 88 8
6 81 84 3
7 54 (see note above) 81 27
Pre Algebra 77 91 14
Elementary Algebra 75 78 3
Geometry 77 80 3

See the media articles below for more information about the number of schools that didn't make the AYP (annual yearly improvement) and what factors go into the rating.

California Math Standards *

I'm sure some of you have wondered just what exactly California's math standards have over Utah's. There's a few things you should know.

First, California has what are called "green-dot" standards which are the core parts of a math program and 85% of the time spent in class should be spent on these concepts. They form the base foundation of math understanding at that grade level.

Second, they're crystal clear with a solid example to go with them. To see what I mean, go here:


From this page, click to open one of the chapter 2 PDF's, let's say the Kindergarten to 3rd grade.

Scroll down to the 7th page which is the first page of standards for Kindergarten. Note how there's a green circle around standards 1.0 and 2.1? Scroll down through the document and read a few of the standards and see how clear they are.

For fun, here's a quick comparison provided by David Wright at BYU. See if you can tell what the Utah standard is really getting at.

California Grade 4

Number Sense, Key Standard 3.2: Demonstrate an understanding of, and the ability to use, standard algorithms for multiplying a multidigit number by a two-digit number and for dividing a multidigit number by a one-digit number; use relationships between them to simplify computations and to check results.

California Grade 5

Number Sense, Key Standard 2.2: Demonstrate proficiency with division, including, division with positive decimals and long division with multidigit divisors.

Find the quotient:

6 divided by .025

Utah Grade 5

Number Sense Objective 3: Model and illustrate meanings of operations and describe how they relate.

a. Identify the dividend, divisor, and quotient regardless of the division symbol used.

b. Model strategies for whole number multiplication (e.g., partial product, lattice) or division (e.g., partial quotient).

Utah Grade 6

Number Sense Objective 3: Model and illustrate meanings of operations and describe how they relate.

a. Represent division of a multi-digit dividend by two-digit divisors, including decimals, using models, pictures, and symbols.

b. Model addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of fractions and decimals in a variety of ways (e.g., objects, a number line).

David also provided this insightful analysis of exactly why Utah is "a mile wide and an inch deep" and why California is teaching for depth (computation and comprehension).

GLE Grade-Level Learning Expectation
ILO Intended Learning Outcome
MRE Mathematical Reasoning Expectation


Grade 3: 60 GLEs (0 are key) 28 ILOs
Grade 4: 59 GLEs (0 are key) 28 ILOs
Grade 5: 72 GLEs (0 are key) 32 ILOs
Grade 6: 67 GLEs (0 are key) 33 ILOs


Grade 3: 38 GLEs (of which 17 are key) 11 MREs
Grade 4: 43 GLEs (of which 19 are key) 11 MREs
Grade 5: 27 GLEs (of which 16 are key) 11 MREs
Grade 6: 36 GLEs (of which 19 are key) 13 MRE's

The bottom line is Utah needs to adopt California's math standards and not wait around for our "think tanks" to create a new system. California has one that works.

Parent Comment


Here's a report of a conversation from earlier this evening. The cast of
characters is yours truly (as Dad) and my seventh grader, who attends
AFJH and has been calling Investigations "coloring book math" since
about second grade, when she started complaining that she needed more
math homework, and harder. She's in algebra this year, and she's a
pretty bright math student.

Daughter: Dad, I don't understand this assignment. (She shows me a
single sheet with two problems and minimal instructions.)

Dad: Maybe your textbook shows you how to do these.

Daughter: We don't have a textbook.

Dad: How can you not have a textbook?

Daughter: My teacher says they're $35 each, and it would cost too much
to get one for every one of hundreds of students.

Dad: Do you realize that the cost of educating one student for a year is
several thousand dollars? How can they not afford a math textbook?

She didn't have an answer, which is okay, because it was a rhetorical

I helped her decipher the assignment as best I could, but I told her I
was just guessing, because -- as I not the first to point out -- they
don't use the language of math any more. An equation is not an equation,
but a "math sentence," or in some cases, a "rule."

[Later note: One page actually does use the word "equation." Retro!]


Media Articles

Provo Daily Herald
Utah schools receive progress rankings

Districts evaluate 'failures' in testing

Weekly Comic

Archive: http://www.oaknorton.com/weaponsofmathdestruction.cfm

Till next week,

Oak Norton


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