Home School Heartbeat Radio Program

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Adding Up the Score on Standardized Tests
Volume 118, Program 37
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When it comes to standardized tests, homeschoolers usually shine in comparison with national averages. Math professor Fred Worth talks with host Mike Smith about why homeschool scores in math are a little less luminous than in other areas. That’s today on Home School Heartbeat.

Mike Smith:
Fred, on our last program, you talked about why individual children might struggle in math. Although homeschoolers score better than the national average on all subjects, they tend to do better on verbal sections than on math. Now why is math harder, Fred?

Fred Worth:
Well, we talked last time about being able to do and understand mathematics, and those are obviously important here as well. But there are a couple of other things that are very important, and one of those is vocabulary.

Sometimes people tell me they feel like mathematics is a foreign language, and I tell them they’re exactly right. In order to do mathematics, we are teaching our children a new language, with its own vocabulary and grammar. A particularly vital portion of this is learning the proper vocabulary and using it. In the kitchen, cup doesn’t just mean any open-topped cylinder. You would want your surgeon to know the difference between your appendix and your spleen. So I would strongly urge parents, from the very beginning of their homeschooling, to use the right words. Talk about the numerator and denominator of a fraction, not the top and bottom. If we’re dividing both sides of an equation by 7, say dividing both sides by 7, not cancel the 7s. There are numerous mathematical errors that can be avoided if students simply learn the right words.

Thanks for joining me today, Fred. Next time, we’ll explore ways to address this issue. And until then, I’m Mike Smith.

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Dr. Fred Worth has developed a plan of attack for that formidable math challenge, the story problem! Request our free resource sheet, and conquer the story problems in your math curriculum.

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