Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Add this to the list of reasons we're homeschooling...

My public school teaching job informs the way I parent, and being a parent informs the way I teach a class of 30.

Today after school, I sat at my desk grading math tests. My fourth graders have just completed Topic 3, which is a chapter about the meaning of multiplication and division. The chapter includes lessons on drawing bar models to illustrate a multiplication or division problem (a concept I never learned in school - as a child who did well in math classes - but had to learn as an adult because I had to teach it as part of my employer's mandated math curriculum), the rules of division (n divided by n = 1, 0 divided by n = 0 [if I have nothing, and I want to share it with others, no one gets anything], n divided by 0 = impossible [it's impossible to share if there's no one to share with], n divided by 1 = n), distributive property (a lesson I LOVE teaching, thank you Danica McKellar*), etc.

Eighty-three percent of my class scored a 3 or above. (We have a 4 point grading scale in which 3 is Proficient and 4 is Advanced.) Half of those students scored 4s. Half of those 4s were high 4s: 100%.

Eighty-three percent! I was patting myself on the back. I must have done a really good job teaching this chapter. To public school teachers, 80% success is great; it's what we shoot for. To me as a homeschooler, this number is unacceptable. I don't want my child to turn the page in the textbook just because she scored "high enough." A student who scores 12/14 (86%) could possibly be missing two problems from the same lesson, meaning he or she does not understand a concept, and this will mean trouble later.

I want my child to learn to mastery, mastery being 100%. I don't want her to worry that she hasn't completed a textbook by a certain date. I don't want her moving on because a district's pacing plan says she should.

Eighty-percent isn't good enough. Add this to the list of reasons we're homeschooling.

*I got to hear Danica McKellar speak at Harvey Mudd College a couple of years ago, and her talk was wonderful.

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree. Working toward unstressed and unrushed mastery in math was one of the primary reasons we began to homeschool.