The frustration of “explaining” an answer on a math test

This page is from a first-grade math test administered in a North Carolina public school.  At first, it may prompt a chuckle and a thumbs-up for a kiddo who has already learned what it means to “stick it to the man.”

But think of how frustrating it must be for 6- and 7-year-old children to try to explain in writing how they formulated their answers to math questions, a feature of the Common Core State Standards that North Carolina adopted in 2010.  Consider whether assigning explanatory tasks actually advances the understanding of mathematical concepts in young children or simply cultivates a dislike of mathematics that begins in elememntary school and endures.

Terry Stoops / Vice President for Research and Director of Education Studies

Terry Stoops is the Vice President for Research and Director of Education Studies at the John Locke Foundation. Before joining the Locke Foundation, he worked as the progra...

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