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GreatKids State Test Guide for Parents

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Parents' guide to SBAC testing

See what skills are tested, understand your child's scores, and get ideas for how you can help at home.

ELA/Literacy
Math

3rd grade
ELA/Literacy Skills

Third graders should be able to read a variety of fiction and nonfiction texts, identify key information, and grasp the meaning of words by their context. They should also write clearly and organize their ideas into structured paragraphs.

Reading Literature (Fiction)

What it means
How to help

To meet the Reading Literature standard, third graders are expected to:

  • Read and understand a variety of stories, plays, and poems.
  • Compare and contrast themes, settings, and plots of different stories written by the same author.
  • Explain how illustrations contribute to a story.

Want to know more?

The Reading Literature standard refers to reading fiction, plays, and poetry. In third grade, kids are at a variety of reading levels when they arrive at the start of the school year. Some are reading fluently, while others are still decoding — or sounding out — words as they go.

Third graders should be reading all kinds of stories, from folktales and myths (think Johnny Appleseed and Pandora’s Box) to poems, plays, and chapter books like Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

They should be able to recount a story, identify the central message, and explain how key details, which they point out in the text, communicate its main message.

Third grade students will also be asked to describe the characters based on their motivations, feelings, and traits, and explain how each character moves the story forward.

Additionally, they will be expected to understand and explain how illustrations contribute to a story.

In third grade, teachers do much less reading to students and much more leading discussions about what students have read. Kids will have to be prepared to ask and answer questions and share their ideas respectfully.

By the end of third grade, students proficient in reading will be able to compare and contrast themes, settings, and plots of different stories written by the same author, such as The Tale of Despereaux and Because of Winn-Dixie, two novels by Kate DiCamillo.

Watch how a teacher gets a third grader to show that she understands what she’s read.

 

Third graders are expected to use details from the text to support their thinking. For example, if a child concludes, “the stepmother in the story was mean,” this statement should be backed by evidence. What shows that she was mean? “She made the girl clean up after everyone all by herself,” and “She laughed at the girl because she was dirty” are two examples of evidence from the story. Students should also be able to explain why a character might act in a particular way. “The stepmother acted that way because she knew the man loved his daughter more than he loved her, his wife.”

If your child takes the test online, he will also watch and listen to a multimedia presentation and answer questions by citing details from the presentation.


If your child didn’t meet the Reading Literature standard…

  • Your child may struggle to tell events of a story in the order in which they occur.
  • Your child may have difficulty describing how a character’s personality moves the plot.
  • Your child may have trouble pointing to specific evidence that illustrates an idea or theme.
How to help

Read together and ask your child questions

  • Pick something your child likes — maybe she’s interested in stories about animals or children in other countries.
  • Try different types of texts — she may develop a love of poetry or mythology. If a book or poem is hard for your child to read, it’s perfectly fine to read to her. If it’s not too hard, ask her to read to you or take turns reading aloud.

Questions to ask while reading with your child
Here are some questions to get your child thinking. (Remember to ask Why? and How do you know?)

  • What is the main idea or message the author wants us to know?
  • What did you learn from this picture? Why?
  • How do you think the character feels? Why?
  • How would you describe the character? How do you know that?

Boost those skills

Talk to your child’s teacher

To be a strong reader, your child needs a combination of many skills: fluency, decoding, reading with expression, and comprehension. Kids also need to be steadily growing their knowledge about the world with every new poem, book, and story they read. Ask your child’s teacher which reading skills your child needs to work on. The teacher will help you understand your child’s reading strengths and areas to work on and also recommend books, poems, fables, and myths that you and your child can read together.

Reading Information (Nonfiction)

What it means
How to help

To meet the Reading Information standard, third graders are expected to:

  • Identify the main idea and point to key facts the author uses to support the idea.
  • Discuss connections between people, events, and ideas in a text.
  • Use keywords and maps to enhance their understanding.

Want to know more?

Many third graders have a lot less experience reading nonfiction, or informational text, compared to fiction. And nonfiction can be especially challenging since it often contains tough new vocabulary and concepts. But third grade is also a great time to introduce deeper nonfiction reading. At this age, kids’ expanding curiosity about the world around them coincides with their increasing ability to read more complex texts to create a supercharged opportunity for learning.

Your child may have read about the moon cycle or how to build a treehouse or how Native Americans used natural resources to survive. She should be able to use keywords and maps to enhance her understanding of events and ideas she reads about.

When students read, they should be able to identify the main idea and point to key facts that support that idea. Students should also ask and answer questions based on information in books and articles.

Watch how third graders build knowledge as they read.

 

In college and at work, people spend much more time reading informational text than fiction. That’s why kids are now asked to read more informational texts than in the past.

In third grade, students are expected to compare and contrast two readings on the same subject. They also need to recognize and discuss the connection between people, events, and ideas. For example, in an article about the benefits of exercising, students should connect the idea that exercise can help prevent Alzheimer’s (a disease that affects memory in older adults) because it prevents shrinking in the part of the brain linked to memory.

If your child takes the test online, he will be asked to watch and listen to a multimedia presentation and cite details when asked questions about the information presented.


If your child didn’t meet the Reading Information standard…

  • Your child may struggle to point out which key facts the author uses to support an idea.
  • Your child may have difficulty finding similarities and differences between two texts on the same topic.
  • Your child may need help identifying key ideas and details to support his conclusion.
  • Your child may struggle to make connections between how people, events, and ideas in a text are related.
How to help

Read together and ask your child questions

Here are some questions to get your child thinking about the nonfiction texts she reads. (Remember to ask Why? and How do you know?)

Select a few articles, magazines, and books on subjects that your child likes: sports, animals, the environment, or science. Ask your child to read to you, but if she gets stuck, it’s absolutely fine for you to take over. Better yet, take turns reading to each other.

Questions to ask while reading with your child

  • What’s the main idea? How do you know?
  • What did you learn so far? What else do you want to learn?
  • Why do you think the author wrote this?
  • What are the similarities and differences between these two passages?

Boost those skills

Talk to your child’s teacher

To be a strong reader, your child needs a combination of many skills: fluency, decoding, reading with expression, and comprehension. Kids also need to be steadily growing their knowledge about the world with every new article or textbook they read. Ask your child’s teacher which reading skills your child needs to work on. The teacher will help you understand your child’s reading strengths and areas to work on and also recommend books and articles that you and your child can read together.

Reading: Vocabulary

What it means
How to help

To meet the Reading Vocabulary standard, third graders are expected to:

  • Use the context to understand a new word with more than one meaning.
  • Use parts of the word (root words, prefixes, and suffixes) to understand its meaning.
  • Recognize general and content-specific academic words.

Want to know more?

As they read, third graders should use context to figure out new words and words with more than one meaning (like bark or light). For example, students can use context to understand that additional means more in this sentence: She had to work a few additional hours because she needed more time to get everything done.

Third graders also use word parts (root words, prefixes, and suffixes) to figure out the meaning of a new word. For example, if they know the root word clue and that the suffix -less means without, then students should be able to figure out the meaning of clueless (without a clue).

It’s important for third graders to build something called academic vocabulary. These are words that are used often, in many subjects, but can be hard to define. Words such as additional, cause, examine, similar, and occur are examples of general academic vocabulary. They also need to know common grammatical structures (like if…then sentences) and content-specific words like orbit in science and citizenship in social studies.

In third grade, students also begin to understand shades of meaning among words. For example, nibble and devour both have to do with eating. But a reader will need to understand the difference to truly understand the sentence, I am so hungry I could devour a hamburger in three bites!

Students also learn how to use a glossary, dictionary, and thesaurus to look up words they can’t figure out on their own.


If your child didn’t meet the Reading Vocabulary standard…

  • Your child may have difficulty figuring out the meaning of new words from context clues in the sentence.
  • Your child may need help understanding prefixes, suffixes, and root words.
  • Your child may need help building his general and content-specific vocabulary.
How to help

Helping your child understand a new word

New words can get in the way of your child’s understanding. If your child pauses or stumbles on a word, she may not know its meaning. When your child comes across a word she doesn’t know, try this:

  • Ask your child to read more of the sentence to see if it helps her figure it out.
  • Ask your child to explain the meaning of the new word in context. It’s okay if he guesses wrong. Encourage him to try again, and point out the words that will help.
  • Ask your child to replace the new word with another word that means the same thing. If she doesn’t know, tell her and have her repeat the new word.

Watch how a teacher guides a third grader through the process of figuring out a new word.

 

Build your child’s academic vocabulary

It’s important for third graders to build their academic vocabulary. These are words that are used often, in many subjects, but can be hard to define. Words such as additional, cause, examine, similar, and occur are examples of academic vocabulary. Check out this list for more academic vocabulary words to use with your third grader. Sign up for GreatWords, our free vocabulary-boosting text message program, to get daily text messages with 3rd grade academic vocabulary words. To get started, text WORDS to 88769. (See terms and conditions.)

To help your third grader learn these words, try introducing one new word every day. Tell your child the meaning and another word or phrase that means the same thing. For instance, examine means the same as to look at closely or inspect. Next, make up a sentence using the word. I examine the roof to make sure there are no leaks. Ask her to come up with her own sentence. For fun, help your child keep a daily word journal. In a notebook, write down the new word, its meaning, and a creative sentence using it. The more fun the sentence, the better!

Boost those skills

Talk to your child’s teacher

If your child struggles with vocabulary, arrange a meeting with his teacher as soon as possible to discuss ways that you can work together to build his word knowledge. Can she recommend books, worksheets, computer programs, or games that will help?

Written Expression

What it means
How to help

To meet the Written Expression standard, third graders are expected to:

  • Write with focus on their topic and connect details back to the main idea.
  • Use evidence from the text to support ideas in informational and opinion writing.
  • Structure informational and opinion pieces with an introduction, a few paragraphs, and a conclusion.
  • Introduce characters and use description and dialogue to move the plot forward when writing narrative pieces.
  • Want to know more?

    At this age, kids should be writing clearly and including quite a few details.

    Third graders are expected to think about why they’re writing. Are they trying to tell a story (sometimes called narrative writing)? Do they want to teach others about a topic (informational writing)? Do they want to convince someone of something (persuasive writing)? What they write will depend on the purpose of their writing.

    See what teachers are looking for in your third grader’s writing.

     

    No matter what your child writes about, he needs to focus on a main idea or event and connect each paragraph back to it with connecting words like because and also. Third graders organize their informational or opinion writing into an introduction, a few full paragraphs, and a conclusion.

    See how third graders do research and organize their ideas.

     

    When telling a story, third graders need to introduce characters, use descriptive words to present the setting, and use dialogue to help develop the events of the story. However, when writing informational or opinion pieces, students need to support their ideas with details from text they’ve read or learned.


    If your child didn’t meet the Written Expression standard…

    • Your child may have a hard time providing details to support the main idea.
    • Your child may need help remaining focused on the purpose of her writing. Or maybe her introduction or conclusion need to more strongly and clearly state her opinion, purpose, or theme.
    • Your child needs to learn how to write an introduction and conclusion and strongly and clearly state her purpose or theme.
    How to help

    Make writing fun

    To support your child’s writing, focus on celebrating the ideas. It’s all about sharing thoughts and finding your child’s voice.

    • Storytime — Read aloud to your child. Pick books with more complex language than everyday conversation because that helps grow her vocabulary and teaches her sentence structure.
    • Shhh! Just write — Often, when you are somewhere you’re not supposed to talk (a church or ceremony, for instance), your child may still be able to write. Letting them write you a secret note will teach them how useful and fun writing can be.
    • Family blog — Pick an upcoming family event (trip, celebration, etc.) and ask your child to help you write about it to share with friends and family.
    • Everyone’s a critic — Have your child write a review about a place you’ve visited such as a park, store, or restaurant. Get him to talk about his ideas before he writes; it helps to organize thoughts out loud.
    • Convince me! — Ask your child to write you a letter trying to convince you of why he should be allowed to watch more TV or why the family should order pizza on Friday night.
    • Worksheets — Try some of our third grade writing worksheets: How to write a story, Writing practice: alternatives to said.

    Talk to your child’s teacher

    Can you tell what’s missing in your child’s writing? Ask the teacher! Bring in a couple of your child’s writing samples (or ask your child’s teacher for samples) and ask the teacher to point out what’s working and where your child’s writing needs work. Your child’s teacher can help you figure out the best ways to help your child with writing.

    Writing: Knowledge and Use of Language Conventions

    What it means
    How to help

    To meet the Language Conventions standard, third graders are expected to:

    • Explain the function of each part of speech.
    • Know and correctly use irregular plural nouns and irregular past-tense verbs.
    • Use grade-appropriate capitalization and punctuation rules.

    Want to know more?

    When third graders write, they should use the rules of language, or grammar, and know how to correctly spell, punctuate, and capitalize in order to express ideas clearly and correctly.

    Third graders should be able to explain the purpose of the various parts of speech: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives. They need to be familiar with irregular plural nouns (halves, men) and irregular verbs (broke, met). It may be cute when a young child says, I goed to the store, instead of I went, but by third grade children are expected to use the correct verb forms in writing and speech.

    In addition to grammar, students need to correctly capitalize words in titles, use commas appropriately in addresses or in dialogue, and spell grade-level words correctly.

    There are also different styles for speaking and writing. It’s okay to be less formal when speaking than when writing, but students need to learn the difference and when to use each.


    If your child doesn’t meet the Language Conventions standard…

    • Your child may need help identifying the basic parts of speech and understanding their function.
    • Your child may struggle with verb tenses.
    • Your child may have difficulty remembering all the irregular verbs and plural nouns that are so common in the English language.
    • Your child may have to work harder on punctuation and spelling.
    How to help

    Be a good model

    Children take their language and grammar cues from parents, friends, teachers, books, and the digital world. So when you speak, make sure you’re modeling speech you want your child to use. When your child mispronounces a word or makes a grammatical mistake, instead of telling her it’s wrong and correcting her, just rephrase her idea using the correct form. For example, if your child says I did so good on my test, you can respond with, That’s great to hear you did so well!

    Boost those skills

    Talk to your child’s teacher

    Tell your child’s teacher you’d like to look at some samples of your child’s writing together and have the teacher point out your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Also, ask about resources to help your child build his writing skills at home and what to say when your child crumples up a paper in frustration.

    3rd grade
    Math

    What’s third grade math about? Multiplying and dividing up to 100. Understanding and comparing fractions, and knowing how to multiply to find the area of a rectangle.

    Major Content

    What it means
    How to help

    Third graders are expected to learn:

    • Multiplication and division: Memorizing their times tables from 1-10, multiplying and dividing within 100, and understanding that division is the reverse of multiplication.
    • Two-step problems: Adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing to solve problems that take more than one step to answer.
    • Fractions: Understanding that fractions are numbers, and finding common denominators (the bottom number in a fraction).
    • Area: Finding the area of a rectangle.

    Want to know more?

    Multiplication and division

    By the end of third grade, kids need to be able to easily and accurately multiply and divide numbers up to 100. That means third graders should have their times tables from 1-10 down pat. Kids need to be able to mentally multiply from 1 x 1 = 1 to 10 x 10 = 100 and then reverse the process — dividing numbers up to 100 (examples: 100 ÷ 10 = 10, 81 ÷ 9 = 9, 32 ÷ 8 = 4, and so on).

    Watch these third graders multiply and divide within 100.

     

    Fractions

    Kids need to understand that one whole divided into 2, 3, 4, 6, or 8 equal pieces makes halves, thirds, quarters, sixths, or eighths.

    Your child needs to be able to produce equivalent fractions (different fractions with the same value), like 12 = 24 = 36 = 48, and compare different fractions with the same denominator (the bottom number), such as 16 is less than 56, or the same numerator (the top number), such as 13 is greater than 16. Kids are asked to place these fractions on a number line to show that they understand, for example, that 12 is larger than 14.

    Perimeter and area

    Third graders need to understand how to add to find a rectangle’s perimeter (adding the length of the four sides) and multiply to find its area (multiplying one width by one height to find the total space inside the rectangle). Conceptually, kids should understand that shapes have an outer boundary and an inner space and that both are measurable.

    Time and other units of measurement

    Time marches on in third grade. Students are asked to add and subtract using minutes. It’s one way kids are asked to show they understand how to use the four operations to answer real-world questions like, How much longer will it take him to walk than ride his bike?

    Finally, your third grader should learn standard units of measurement, such as minutes, grams, kilograms, and liters. Kids are asked to put their addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division skills to work to solve word problems involving these units.


    If your child didn’t meet the Major Content standard...

    • Your child may struggle with his 1-10 times tables. (See sample problem 1.)
    • Your child may not understand the difference between multiplication and division or how to decide which operation to use when solving problems. (See sample problems 2 and 3.)
    • Your child may not understand that a fraction is a part of a whole — that something cut into thirds means there are three equal parts and that those three thirds add up to the whole. (See sample problem 4.)
    • Your child may need to work on comparing fractionsplacing fractions on a number line, finding equivalent fractions, or using greater than (>) or less than (<) signs to compare two fractions. (See sample problems 5 and 6.)
    • Your child may need practice finding the area of a rectangle. (See sample problems 7 and 8.)
    • Your child may have trouble solving problems involving units of measurement, like time, liters, etc. (See sample problem 9.)

    Sample problems

    Multiplication and division

    By the end of third grade, your child should have the 1-10 times tables memorized. Kids should be comfortable dividing those numbers, too. (For example, 6 x 8 = 48 and 48 ÷ 6 = 8.) When teachers describe this ability, they often say kids need to multiply and divide within 100 fluently, which means your child does these operations easily and accurately.

    Sample problem 1: Multiplying and dividing within 100

    GK_PARCC_MathSamples_3Grade_0_111115

    Think of division as the reverse of multiplication: it means dividing a whole into equal parts. Students will be expected to solve problems to show they understand the concept behind division.

    Sample problem 2: Understanding division

    GK_PARCC_MathSamples_3Grade_1_111115

    Third graders need to be able to read a word problem, decide which operation to use (+, -, x, ÷), write the equation, and calculate the answer. Questions like the sample problem below ask your child to write equations and draw visuals to show their thinking. These visuals and equations help parents and teachers see where a student may have gotten tripped up: understanding the question, writing the equation, and/or calculating the answer.

    Watch third graders explain the concept of division.

     

    Sample problem 3: Multiplying and dividing to solve problems

    GK_PARCC_MathSamples_3Grade_2_111115

    Fractions

    Third graders need to understand the concept of fractions and know that a whole that is divided into 2, 3, 4, 6, or 8 equal pieces makes halves, thirds, quarters, sixths, or eighths.

    Sample problem 4: Understanding fractions as a concept

    GK_PARCC_MathSamples_3Grade_3_111115

    Third graders also need to know that two different fractions can express the same value; these are called equivalent fractions. Your child should be able to produce equivalent fractions, such as 14 = 28, and compare different fractions with the same denominator (the bottom number) or the same numerator (the top number).

    Sample problem 5: Comparing fractions

    GK_PARCC_MathSamples_3Grade_4_111115

    Third graders should be able to accurately place fractions like 14, 12, and 34 on the same number line.

    Sample problem 6: Placing fractions on a number line

    GK_PARCC_MathSamples_3Grade_5_111115

    Area and perimeter

    Third graders need to understand — and calculate — both the perimeter and the area of a rectangle. Perimeter is the total length of the outside of the rectangle, so students need to add up the lengths of all four sides. Area is the total space inside the shape, so students need to multiply the shape’s length by its width. At first, students are taught to find area by counting the “blocks” inside of the shape so they can visualize the area they’re calculating. Then, students learn to multiply numbers representing the length and the width to find a rectangle’s area. Finally, students are asked to use what they know about area to find the area of shapes made up of multiple rectangles.

    Sample problem 7: Finding the area of a rectangle

    GK_PARCC_MathSamples_3Grade_6_111115

    Sample problem 8: Finding the area of shapes made up of multiple rectangles

    Third graders are asked to solve more complicated area problems that involve more than one rectangle in a figure. In these problems, third graders are expected to find the area of each rectangle and then add those areas together to find the area of the entire shape. In the sample problem below, the area of the bottom portion is 3 cm x 3 cm = 9 cm2; the area of the top portion of the figure is 2 cm x 5 cm = 10 cm2. Added together, 9 cm2 + 10 cm2 = 19 cm2, which is the total area of the figure. Notice how students need to add the lengths 2 cm + 3 cm to find the 5 cm length of the top portion of the figure. This is common in problems like these.

    GK_PARCC_MathSamples_3Grade_7_111115

    Units of measurement

    Kids are asked to use what they know about the four operations to solve problems involving units of measurement, such as minutes, liters, inches, miles, and cups.

    Sample problem 9: Solving problems involving measurement

    GK_PARCC_MathSamples_3Grade_8_111115


    How to help

    Start with a great attitude

    Whether you’re a math whiz or a number-phobic person, research shows that a parent’s attitude is a big predictor of how well a child will do in math. If you love math, let it show! If you don’t, fake it. Saying things like, “I hate math” — or worse, “I don’t have the math gene” — is contagious. Be the most math-friendly, math-supporting example you can be for your child. It does make a difference.

    Sprinkle math into everyday activities

    • Practice those times tables! — If you practice together, it really can be fun. Focus on 1-10, but feel free to go a little higher if your child can handle it. When your child has trouble solving one, ask What answer would be reasonable? Listen to your child’s reasoning — and share your own. For example, if 4 times 6 is hard, think about 4 times 5 — what is that? Would 4 times 6 be more or less? Why?
    • MultiPLAY! — Pick a number target, like the number 24. Ask your child what pairs of numbers can be multiplied to equal 24 (3 x 8, 6 x 4, 2 x 12, and 1 x 24). If this is tough for your child, use beans or coins to build models placed in columns and rows (like 3 rows of 8 pennies). Take turns picking the target number and trying to stump each other with numbers that have many factor pairs.
    • Cut it up — During meals, ask your child to cut something (e.g., a waffle) into two, three, or four equal pieces. It’ll help him understand that fractions are equal parts of a whole.
    • How many, how much? — At the store, ask your child how much it’ll cost to buy six boxes of cereal if each one costs $3. Or ask how many loaves of bread you can buy with $16 if each loaf costs $4.
    • Measure it! — Get out the measuring tape, and ask your child to find the area of things around the house: the TV screen, a table, the floor. Whose bed has a larger area — yours or hers?

    Boost those skills

    Talk to your child’s teacher

    Make a point of asking the teacher about your child’s math skills. When it comes to concepts (why) and procedures (how), what is your child doing well? What does your child struggle with? Ask the teacher how you can help at home.

    Help your child ease test anxiety

     

    Additional & Supporting Content

    What it means
    How to help

    Third graders are expected to learn:

    • Number sense: Adding and subtracting within 1,000.
    • Place value: Understanding place value up to the hundreds place.
    • Graphs: Reading (or creating) graphs that represent data.
    • Measurement: Finding area and length, and measuring distances to the nearest quarter unit (e.g. 14 inch).

    Want to know more?

    Honestly, Additional and Supporting Content sounds a little like “feel free to ignore,” so we asked the experts to explain. This content is given less weight on the PARCC test. These skills support the Major Content for third grade and will set your child up for success in future grades.

    Number sense

    Third graders need to be able to quickly and accurately add and subtract within 1,000. Kids aren’t expected to just see a problem like 987 – 240 and know it’s 747, but they are expected to be able to set up the problem correctly and get the right answer without much hesitation. These skills support the major skill of solving two-step problems.

    Place value

    Kids should understand that 7 x 60 is the same as 7 x 6 x 10. Since students should easily calculate 7 x 6 = 42, they should use their understanding of place value to know that 42 x 10 = 420.

    Graphs

    Students need to learn how to create simple bar graphs and picture graphs and use the information in them to solve one- and two-step problems. For example, a student may draw a graph showing how many kids were in class each day of the week and then be able to use their graph to answer the question How many more students were in school on Wednesday than on Monday?

    A note about third grade geometry

    In third grade, students learn to classify two-dimensional shapes by their properties. For example, all shapes with four sides are quadrilaterals. Students learn to draw shapes with specific dimensions and characteristics. For example, the teacher may ask your child to draw a parallelogram that is not a rectangle: a shape with two long sides that are the same length and two short sides that are the same length.

    GK_PARCC_Graphic_3Grade_1_111115


    If your child didn’t meet the Additional & Supporting Content standard...

    • Your child may need practice adding and subtracting large numbers, such as 492 + 99 and 1,000 – 876.
    • Your child may struggle to understand place value, making it difficult to add, subtract, and multiply.
    • Your child may need help reading or creating bar and picture graphs and/or identifying what data he needs to solve a math problem.
    • Your child may have difficulty recognizing or classifying shapes based on properties, such as having two short sides and two long sides.
    • Your child may not understand how to find the perimeter or area of an odd shape.
    How to help

    Start with a great attitude

    Back in 1992, the first talking Barbie actually said, “Math class is tough.” Educators took Mattel to task because math anxiety is something you can catch — and Barbie stopped saying it. Be like that better Barbie: don’t dis math.

    Sprinkle math into everyday activities

    • Draw like Picasso! — Help your child learn to recognize shape attributes by drawing. Challenge your child to draw abstract portraits of family members using only shapes.
    • How tall are you? — Hand your child a tape measure and have her figure out everyone in the family’s height down to the 14 inch. Then, have her plot the numbers on a number line and see how everyone’s heights compare.

    Boost those skills

    Talk to your child’s teacher

    The teacher sees your child every day, grades his homework and tests, and observes his participation in class. Ask the teacher to share her unique perspective on your child’s math skills. Start by asking about how your child is doing this year, and then ask how well your child is set up for math success next year, too.

    Help your child ease test anxiety

     

    Mathematical Reasoning

    What it means
    How to help

    Third graders are expected to learn:

    • Reverse operations: Understanding that division (breaking a number into equal parts) — is basically the reverse of multiplication (putting equal parts together).
    • Justifying answers: Defending their solutions to problems by showing and explaining the math concepts and reasoning they used.
    • Evaluating answers: Using mathematical reasoning to say whether or not someone else got a problem right — and why.

    Want to know more?

    Third graders are expected to do more than find the answer. They’re expected to explain how they got the answer and why their solution works. This means students should be able to describe the steps needed to solve the problem, show their work, and explain why their approach makes sense.

    The process of explaining their work shows whether students understand the logic involved in solving a math problem. When kids understand the logic behind one solution, they are more likely to be able to solve other problems that require similar logic. For example, if a problem asks your child to calculate the height of a five-story building, and each of the stories is 9 feet high, your child should be able to explain why multiplying 5 x 9 to get the building’s height is faster than (but the same as) adding 9 + 9 + 9 + 9 + 9.

    To defend their work, third graders are expected to explain how the four operations (+, -, x, ÷) work and how they relate to each other. For example: the reverse of the equation 21 + 45 = 66 is 66 – 45 = 21. Likewise, 3 x 9 = 27 is the reverse of 27 ÷ 9 = 3.

    Students also need to explain their work using diagrams, such as graphs, charts, tables, and number lines.

    Third graders learn to use these reasoning skills to evaluate their classmates’ work and explain (nicely) why someone else’s answer is correct or incorrect.


    If your child didn’t meet the Mathematical Reasoning standard...

    • Your child may need practice explaining why he selected a particular approach to solve a problem or justifying why his answer is correct. (See sample problem 1.)
    • Your child may have difficulty reviewing someone else’s work and explaining where they went wrong. If your child has trouble identifying flaws in someone else’s reasoning, he may not completely understand the concept himself. (See sample problem 2.)
    • Your child may be having trouble reading the problem, understanding what she’s reading, and/or communicating what she thinks. Some kids may need to learn to slow down and/or re-read the problem. Other kids may need more help processing the problem and/or expressing their thoughts. If slowing down and re-reading doesn’t help your child, talk to the teacher about getting your child some extra help. (You may also want to read more about the signs of a reading issue.)

    Sample problems

    This year, your child will face questions that require new problem-solving skills. (Your child’s teacher may call this mathematical thinking.)

    To tackle these problems, your child needs to figure out what she’s being asked to find and then whether to add, subtract, multiply, or divide. These problems often involve two steps, such as adding two things together and then using that sum in a division problem.

    Explaining reasoning

    Students may be asked to explain their answer in writing, as in the sample problem below.

    Sample problem 1: Explaining reasoning

    GK_PARCC_MathSamples_3Grade_10_111115

    Critiquing someone else’s answer

    In the classroom, third graders are expected to critique their classmates’ reasoning. They need to be able to explain why they agree or disagree. In the sample problem below, students are asked to provide an argument for why they agree or disagree.

    Sample problem 2: Critiquing someone else’s answer

    GK_PARCC_MathSamples_3Grade_11_111115


    How to help

    Start with a great attitude

    Who hasn’t muttered about math at least once? But, for the sake of your children, flip those feelings around. When parents say positive things about math, kids feel more capable and confident — and they tend to succeed at higher rates.

    Sprinkle math into everyday activities

    • Ask why — Kids love to ask Why? Now, you can turn it back on them! Ask your child to explain her reasoning about everyday things: Why did you make that move (in a game)? Why did you build the Lego tower that way? Why is that the right amount of change? This will help get your child in the habit of explaining her thought process.
    • Give a wrong answer — Create a sample problem based on your child’s homework — but provide an incorrect answer! Have your child explain why your answer is wrong.
    • Cook together — Have your child measure the ingredients. Ask your child about the measuring tools: Why is a teaspoon sometimes a better choice than a measuring cup? If the directions call for 1 cup of water, have him use the 13 measuring cup. After he puts in three 13 cups of water, have him explain why it equals a whole cup.
    • Oh, yeah? — Make a silly statement and then ask your child to critique it. For example, say, A square is always bigger than a triangle because it has more sides. Do you think that’s right? Show me an example of why that’s wrong.

    Boost those skills

    • When your child is doing homework, ask him to explain his thinking. Encourage him to solve the problem using a different strategy. Some strategies to encourage your child’s thinking include using a number line, drawing illustrations, or explaining his reasoning in writing.
    • Check your child’s work as a regular part of her homework routine. Ask your child to explain why she chose one problem-solving strategy over another. Ask her other ways she could solve a problem and get the same answer.
    • Play a round of Scooter Quest Place Value or any of the 17 math games and activities on Be A Learning Hero’s Skill Builder.
    • Take a look at this resource on Talking Math with Your Kids for ideas about how to ask your child questions about math.
    • Help your child get familiar with the upcoming test by taking the online practice math test part 1 and part 2.

    Talk to your child’s teacher

    Ask your child’s teacher how students in the class practice explaining their thinking. Are there any activities you can try at home with your child?

    Help your child ease test anxiety

     

    Modeling & Application

    What it means
    How to help

    Third graders are expected to:

    • Solve real-world problems: Analyzing real-world word problems and figuring out how to solve them using models and writing equations.
    • Create and use (and fix) models: Using diagrams, graphs, charts, and number lines to illustrate a problem and figure out how to solve it.
    • Estimate and evaluate: Using math reasoning and mental math to evaluate answers — and modifying a model if it isn’t working.

    Want to know more?

    Modeling and Application means taking a real-world problem and using math to solve it. By the end of third grade, students should be able to look at numbers that represent data in charts, graphs, and tables and understand the relationship between the quantities. For example, your child may review a table of student enrollment numbers at three different schools and then list the schools in order from highest to lowest enrollment. Another example might be: To answer the question If a runner has run two miles of a 10-mile race, how many more miles of the race remain? A third grader would be expected to draw the scenario, figure out the steps to answer the question, set up the equation, and then solve it.


    If your child didn’t meet the Modeling & Application standard...

    • Your child may need to learn how to create her own model to solve a problem. (See sample problem 1.)
    • Your child may find it difficult to use information in a diagram, table, chart, or graph to solve a problem. (See sample problem 2.)
    • Your child may need practice evaluating a model to determine whether it accurately reflects the data or if an answer makes sense. (See sample problem 3.)

    Sample problems

    Solving real-world problems with models

    Students should be comfortable creating models to understand and solve real-world problems.

    Sample problem 1: Creating a model

    GK_PARCC_MathSamples_3Grade_12_111115

    Watch how third graders work through word problems.

     

    Data analysis

    By the end of third grade, your child should be able to interpret simple charts, graphs, tables, and diagrams. Kids need to use this information to decide how to answer questions and solve problems.

    Sample problem 2: Using models

    GK_PARCC_MathSamples_3Grade_9_111115

    Evaluating the model

    A key skill in working with models (charts, drawings, graphs, equations, etc.) is reviewing them to make sure they represent information correctly. Sometimes kids will be asked to fix the model. Other times, they’ll be asked to identify which model is right.

    Sample problem 3: Evaluating the model

    GK_PARCC_MathSamples_3Grade_13_111115


    How to help

    Start with a great attitude

    Math can be fun when you find it in the right places. Talk to your child about the math that’s hidden in his hobbies and interests. Sports, cooking, video games, arts and crafts — you can find math in almost any activity if you look for it!

    Sprinkle math into everyday activities

    • Sports stats! — If your child is into sports, look at a website together for some great data analysis and modeling. The practice you’re looking for here is with the four operations. For example, How many more points did this team score than that team? For now, steer clear of anything involving averages or decimals — save that for fifth grade.
    • Reading chart — If reading is your child’s favorite thing, help her make a table that shows how many pages she reads each day. Analyze the data together. On which day does your child read the most? Can she estimate how many pages she’ll read in the next week?
    • Problem solving — When your child encounters a problem — in homework or in real life — resist the urge to jump in and solve it for him. Instead, ask him What do think you should try first? Working through challenges on his own is one way he’ll boost his problem-solving skills.

    Boost those skills

    Talk to your child’s teacher

    Asking specific questions makes it easier to talk about math. Ask your child’s teacher: What’s an example of a modeling math problem that my child is doing right now? Can you show me? Please share two math problems that test my child’s ability to think through a challenging problem without giving up. Using specific examples can help you and the teacher focus on what your child needs to work on.

    Help your child ease test anxiety

     


    About GreatKids State Test Guide for Parents

    GreatKids created this guide to help you understand your child's state test scores and to support your child's learning all year long. We worked with SBAC and leading teachers in every grade to break down what your child needs to know and exactly how you can help

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