- Less than 10% of math assignments in the middle grades require “high levels of cognitive demand,” and only about a third of tasks expect students to show their thinking when providing their answers, according to a new analysis of more than 1,800 assignments, released today by The Education Trust.
- Written by Keith Dysarz, The Education Trust’s director of P-12 practice, “Checking In: Are Math Assignments Measuring Up,” also finds that students in low-poverty schools are being asked to do more demanding work than students in high-poverty schools.
- Curriculum designers and teachers, however, are generally doing a good job of covering grade-level standards in creating their assignments. More than 70% were partially aligned with one or more Common Core math standards, and almost 70% of those addressed multiple standards, according to the report.
The researchers examined both in-class and homework assignments in classes ranging from 6th grade math to geometry. The research was conducted at 12 middle schools in six school districts, representing urban, suburban and rural areas in three states. The report says, “alignment on its own is not enough to meet the high bar set by rigorous college- and career-ready math standards.”
In addition to analyzing whether assignments require higher-level thinking, the authors note that school leaders should also look at whether teachers are giving students an opportunity to have some choice in math tasks and whether assignments are relevant to them. The Common Core standards, they say, provide opportunities for educators to make stronger connections between math and students’ real-life experiences and to address their “math identity.”