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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.


8th grade
ELA/Literacy Skills

Eighth graders should think critically about what they read, analyzing the quality of arguments and evidence presented and recognizing how a text’s structure and language convey ideas.

Reading Literature (Fiction)

What it means
How to help

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

  • Use the strongest evidence from a text when explaining an idea.
  • Understand how dialogue and events contribute to the plot.
  • Understand how the author’s word choice contributes to tone and meaning.
  • Analyze how differing points of view can create effects such as humor or suspense.

Want to know more?

Eighth graders should be able to recognize the techniques used to develop plots in fiction. For example, an author may create a crisis for characters to resolve together.

Students should also be able to compare a written version with a film version of a story or play. They should explain whether the film stays true to the text. To do this, they should be able to cite evidence and details from both versions.

In literature, eighth graders should be able to recognize how a character’s point of view can create suspense or humor. If one character is easily scared, for example, his reaction to the slightest noise may provoke a laugh.

Watch how a teacher gets middle schoolers to talk about what they’re reading.


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

  • Your child may need help finding the most relevant details when summarizing a novel or play.
  • Your child may not understand how plots are structured through events and dialogue.
  • Your child may need help recognizing how authors create humor or suspense in their stories.
  • Your child may not understand how word choice and figurative language contribute to a story.
How to help

Best ways to help your child

  • Read a story together and stop to talk about any plot shifts you notice. Ask: What specific events or dialogue contributed to this change?
  • After reading a book or play, watch a movie version of the story with your child. Then discuss in what specific ways they differ. Ask: Why do you think the filmmaker made that change? Does it make sense to change that part?

Boost those skills

Talk to your child’s teacher

Schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher to ask about her analytical reading skills. Can she analyze how authors use dialogue and events in a story? Does she select the best examples when summarizing fiction? Find out what you can do at home to help her analyze stories, plays, and poems.

Reading Information (Nonfiction)

What it means
How to help

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

  • Use the most relevant evidence when analyzing science, social studies, or other informational texts.
  • Understand the sequence and importance of the steps described in scientific, social studies, and technical texts.
  • Cite phrases from the text that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose for writing.
  • Explain the difference between how primary and secondary sources treat the same topic.

Want to know more?

When eighth graders summarize social studies or science texts they are expected to use evidence and leave out their own opinions on the topic. In an article about a species of zebra mussel invading the Great Lakes, for example, students should cite the damage described by the author in their summary about the species’ negative impact on the habitat. They should not add unsupported statements like The mussels are destroying the Great Lakes.

They should also be able to analyze how a science or social studies text is organized. In a text about the Egyptian pyramids, for example, a student could explain that the opening paragraph states the main idea of the entire section.

Watch how middle schoolers do research on a topic.


Eighth graders should be able to recognize when two texts on the same topic provide conflicting information. They should ask: What is different about the information each text provides? Which appears to be more reliable? Why?

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

  • Your child may have trouble selecting the most reliable or relevant evidence when summarizing science or social studies texts.
  • Your child may not understand processes explained in science or social studies texts.
  • Your child may not understand how a social studies, science, or other informational text is organized.
  • Your child may have difficulty recognizing the difference between facts and opinions presented in a text.
  • Your child may need help identifying which words in a text are clues about an author’s point of view.
How to help

Best ways to help your child

  • After your child reads an article describing a scientific or civic process (like changes in biodiversity or how a bill becomes a law), ask him to draw a diagram or make a list of the steps and then explain it to you.
  • As you read a social studies article together, ask your child to highlight words that might reveal an author’s point of view. Ask: How does the author feel about what happened? How do you know? What words does she use to give you that idea?

Boost those skills

Talk to your child’s teacher

Meet with your child’s teacher to find out how he’s doing. Can he select the best evidence when summarizing a text? Does he notice how texts are organized? Does he notice words that may be clues about author’s point of view? Find out how you can help your child become stronger in these analytical skills.

Reading: Vocabulary

What it means
How to help

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

  • Use context to understand the connotation of a word.
  • Explain how allusions and analogies add meaning to a text.
  • Use a variety of strategies to make sense of new words, including context, word parts, and reference materials.

Want to know more?

As they prepare for high school, eighth graders need to increase their knowledge of academic vocabulary (extensive and correlation) and figurative language (After she got angry, we were all walking on eggshells) and use a range of strategies to figure out new words.

By now they have read enough that they should be familiar with many references made through allusions (mention of historical and literary characters and events). It is hard, for example, to understand the sentence I was surprised his nose had not grown like Pinocchio’s if you have never read or heard the story of Pinocchio.

They should also be able to analyze the symbolism of analogies (a comparison of two things based on their structures or characteristics). For example, they should understand that a fish out of water is a reference to someone uncomfortable in their surroundings.

Eighth graders continue to learn about the connotation — or emotional association — of words and how it can provide clues about an author’s point of view.

For example, in the sentence A video showing a baby elephant painting a canvas resulted in the increased exploitation of the gentle animal, students should be able to point to the word exploitation as evidence that the author disagrees with training elephants to entertain tourists.

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

  • Your child may have trouble making sense of allusions or analogies.
  • Your child may need help understanding the connotation of words and how it impacts the tone of a text.
  • Your child may not have adequate vocabulary strategies or knowledge of word parts to help her figure out unfamiliar words.
How to help

Best ways to help your child

Negative or positive? — After reading an article together about a topic of his choice, ask your child to identify a few words that carry a negative or positive connotation. What does the use of these word tell us about the writer’s point of view?

A word a day — Build a bigger vocabulary, one word at a time. To help your child build his vocabulary, print out this list of words that eighth graders are expected to know. Try to use these words in conversation, and see if your child can use them correctly when talking with you. Listen for the words when watching a movie or a TV show. Challenge your child to find words he doesn’t know in articles on a website or in a magazine. This will help with your child’s reading, speaking, and writing this year — and these are also words your child needs to know for the SAT and ACT tests. Sign up for GreatWords, our free vocabulary-boosting text message program, to get daily text messages with 8th grade academic vocabulary words. To get started, text WORDS to 88769. (See terms and conditions.)

Boost those skills

Talk to your child’s teacher

Ask your child’s teacher about his vocabulary knowledge. Find out what else you can do at home to help him build his word knowledge.

Written Expression

What it means
How to help

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

  • Organize argumentative writing by building arguments with logical reasoning.
  • Organize informational writing by providing information in a relevant and logical sequence.
  • Purposefully choose descriptive, transition, and academic words to enhance their writing.
  • Know and use strategies specific to each writing genre (argumentative, informational, or narrative writing).

Want to know more?

By eighth grade, students should be writing essays and stories that include strong organization, description, and evidence.

They should know which words are appropriate for which writing style. For example, they should use lots of sensory details when writing a story. In a report, however, they should include academic words specific to the topic. In all writing, students should use transition words and phrases (e.g., moreover and equally important) to make shifts between ideas, evidence, and events.

Eighth graders should also use techniques relevant to each writing style. They may include tables, graphs, or multimedia in their reports. When writing a story, they may use plot devices like flashbacks or foreshadowing to build the plot. In argument writing, eighth graders should be able to address opinions different from their own when building a persuasive argument.

Watch middle schoolers develop an informational essay.


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

  • Your child may have trouble organizing her ideas clearly.
  • Your child may get confused about what type of language to use for a particular style of writing.
  • Your child may not have mastered the various techniques used when writing arguments, reports, or stories.
How to help

Best ways to help your child

Be free — If your child has trouble writing for assignments, the problems may be more emotional than intellectual. So help your child free up her mind before a dreaded writing assignment. The idea behind a free write is keep the pencil (or keyboard) moving for a specific amount of time and get past all those demons in your child’s head. Start with just three to five minutes. Tell her to write about anything or give her a prompt: What was the best single moment of your day? What would you like to do this weekend? As she gets comfortable with five minutes, try increasing the time to seven, then ten, etc.

Personal POV — It’s entirely normal for young teens to be focused on their own lives. Channel this energy by asking your child to write about a personal experience from his point of view (POV), like an argument with a sibling or why he loves or hates a certain sports team.

Read more! — That’s right; there’s a huge link between reading a lot and writing well. When your child reads things she likes, she absorbs new words and interesting turns of phrase that she can use in her own writing.

Boost those skills

Talk to your child’s teacher

Ask your child’s teacher to show you some of your child’s writing and explain what she does well and what areas need improvement. Seeing an example will give you a better idea of areas where she needs help. Don’t forget to ask the teacher for ideas about activities to improve your child’s writing skills.

Writing: Knowledge and use of Language Conventions

What it means
How to help

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

  • Choose wording to best convey the intended mood: Would you go… Might you go… Could you go… etc.
  • Strategically choose between active and passive wording: the plate was broken; she broke the plate.
  • Use the correct punctuation to show a pause or to leave out information in a sentence.

Want to know more?

When eighth graders write, they need to know how to choose the appropriate mood for a specific tone they want to convey. For example, if they want to express wishfulness or desire, they might use the subjunctive mood (She hoped Emily would come to her party). If they want to set up the possibility that something could cause an action, they should use the conditional mood (The roof could collapse if you don’t get it fixed).

By now students should know that the active voice is clearer and easier to understand than the passive voice. John mailed the letter (active) is clearer than The letter was mailed by John (passive). However, to emphasize the uncertainty of who did something, passive voice is the better choice: The evidence was examined before the trial began.

As students’ writing becomes more sophisticated, they also learn more advanced punctuation techniques. They should know how to use an ellipsis (…), for example, to show when a thought has trailed off or to leave out unnecessary information. For example, After school I went to her house… and then came home.

If your child didn’t meet the Writing Conventions standard...

  • Your child may use the passive voice too much, leading to vague sentences.
  • Your child may not have good command of all the verb forms.
  • Your child may not understand how to correctly punctuate to indicate pauses or omit information.
How to help

Best ways to help your child

Make it active — Write some sentences using the passive voice to analyze with your child. Ask her how you should rewrite the sentences to make them more active. Compare them and decide which sounds better.

Why punctuate? — After reading an article or story with your child, focus on how commas, dashes, and ellipses are used. Ask your child to explain how the marks add to the reader’s understanding of the text.

Boost those skills

Talk to your child’s teacher

Meet with your child’s teacher to find out if your child needs help with grammar, punctuation, or spelling. What activities can you do at home to help your child improve these skills?

8th grade

What's eighth grade math about? Kids focus on three big ideas: functions (such as y = x2 + 5), linear equations (think y = mx + b), and the good ol' Pythagorean Theorem. (You may remember this one to find the hypotenuse: it’s a2 + b2 = c2.)

Major Content

What it means
How to help

Eighth graders are expected to learn:

  • Functions: Working with expressions or equations where one number is put into the equation and it changes the number that comes out of the equation. For example, if y = x2 + 5, any change in x will change y.
  • Linear equations: Solving linear equations (for example, y = mx + b); graphing real-world problems with linear equations; and understanding the difference between linear equations and linear functions.
  • Geometry: Determining whether two shapes or angles are congruent (same size and shape) and knowing how to apply the Pythagorean Theorem.
  • Exponents: Using positive and negative exponents to figure out different ways to write equations and answers for the same problem. For example, x = 5–3 is a way of using negative exponents to write the answer for x = 15 x 15 x 15.

Want to know more?

What math concept should all eighth graders nail before starting high school?


Functions and linear equations

Functions describe relationships in which one thing is determined by another. For example, a teacher might say, Your grade in this class is a function of the effort you put into it. In math functions, when one number (known as the input or independent number) changes, that changes the next number (known as the output or dependent number). There is only one output for each input. Consider the following table. Your child may be asked whether or not it represents a function. The answer is no, because the number 1 appears two times with different outputs each time.


In eighth grade, students work with linear equations with two variables. Kids use functions to determine the proportional relationship between the two variables. This relationship is most commonly known as the slope.

A linear equation is written as y = mx + b. The m represents the slope and the b represents the y intercept, the point on the graph where the slope crosses the y-axis. It’s called a linear equation because when the outcomes are plotted on a graph, the points can be connected to form a line, like this graph that represents y = 2x +3. The y intercept is at (0,3).


The study of functions leads to linear equations with two variables. These can be written several ways. The general form is ax + by = c. The slope intercept form is y = mx + b. Your eighth grader should know what each part of these equations represents.

A real-world example is when you want to compare the price of two gym memberships to see at what point one plan is cheaper than the other. For example, say Plan A charges a flat rate of $29/month with an initial fee of $99. The monthly fee of $29 is constant and will not change. This is the slope or rate of change of the line and is represented by the variable m. The variable b represents the y-intercept, which is the initial value or the fee of $99. Students learn that to figure out the cost of a gym membership for the year, start with $99 and add that to the $29 monthly times x months. This can be represented by the linear equation y = 29x + 99, where x is the number of months you’re a member and y is the total cost.

Students are expected to take a real-world situation like this, write a linear equation to represent it, and graph it.


Slope is used in geometry, too, as students learn how to apply the concept of slope in concrete terms using shapes, particularly triangles.

Remember the Pythagorean Theorem? The equation a2 + b2 = c2 is used to find the length of the hypotenuse, which is the side opposite the 90° angle in a right triangle. (Any triangle with a 90° angle is called a right triangle.) Here, the hypotenuse is the longest side of the triangle and it’s across from angle B, a right angle.


Want more? Watch this Khan Academy video for a demonstration of the Pythagorean Theorem.

Radicals and exponents

Radical means “root.” Radical numbers are expressions that have a root sign, denoting square root, cube root, etc. (Square root, which looks like a check mark, √, is the most common radical.) The square root of a number is a smaller number that, when multiplied by itself, equals the original number. For example: the square root of 9 is 3 because 3 x 3 = 9.

Students will also work with exponents, which are like the opposite of roots. Exponents show how many times to multiply a number by itself. Exponents are written like this: 67 . Here, the 7, which seems to be sitting on the 6’s shoulder, is the exponent. The 6 is known as the base. Out loud, 67 is said 6 to the power of 7, and it means 6 times itself 7 times, or 6 x 6 x 6 x 6 x 6 x 6 x 6 = 279,936.

In eighth grade, students learn to work with negative exponents, such as 2-4. Negative exponents represent a fraction. Here’s an example of what your student might see:


Is this really necessary? Yes. To be prepared for fractional exponents in high school algebra, your eighth grader needs to know how to rewrite expressions with positive and negative exponents now.

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

  • Your child may not completely understand the concept of functions and linear equations. (See sample problems 1 and 2.)
  • Your child may struggle to calculate the slope or find the y-intercept or show either on a graph. (See sample problem 2.)
  • Your child may get confused applying the Pythagorean Theorem. (See sample problem 3.)
  • Your child may have trouble understanding and simplifying negative exponents. (See sample problem 4.)

Sample problems

Functions and linear equations

In functions, there is exactly one output (or answer) for every input. For example, in the function y = x – 2, for every value of x there is only one possible value of y.

Sample problem 1: Evaluating a function


Systems of linear equations

Eighth graders start looking at two linear functions to determine where they will intersect with each other on a graph. This is called a system of linear equations.

Watch this video of eighth graders using linear equations to solve a real-world problem.


Sample problem 2: Solving a system of linear equations


Watch an eighth grader solve a system of linear equations algebraically.


Eighth graders learn to solve equations that involve multiple steps and that have variables on both sides of the equal sign. For example:


Equations with variables on both sides of the equal sign can have one answer, no answer, or infinitely many answers. Equations with no solution means that there is not a value that can be substituted for x that will make the sides equal. For example:


An equation with infinitely many solutions occurs when both sides of the equation are the same. For example:



In eighth grade, students investigate what happens to a shape if it is flipped over (reflection), turned (rotation), or moved (translation). These are called transformations. Students also learn about enlarging shapes (dilation). Some questions eighth graders see involve multiple transformations to one shape. These are the transformations eighth graders learn about:





Eighth graders learn the equation for the Pythagorean Theorem, which is a2 + b2 = c2. It’s used to find the unknown length of a side of a right triangle when you know the lengths of the other two sides. (Tip: A right triangle has a 90o angle.) The Pythagorean Theorem is used in many everyday activities and jobs, from architecture to sports. Yes, sports. A baseball diamond is actually made up of two right triangles.

Sample problem 3: Applying the Pythagorean Theorem



Sample problem 4: Using exponents to find equivalent expressions


How to help

Start with a great attitude

You know what they say: monkey see, monkey do. So, even if you’re one of the many people who suffer from math anxiety, it’s best for your child if you keep that dread under wraps. If you say things like I hate math, or worse, I just don’t have the math gene, your child will likely say these things, too. Research shows if you embrace math and show your child how useful it is in everyday life, your child’s attitude — and math scores — will be positively affected.

See how to model a growth mindset — and harness the power of yet — when talking to your child about math.


Sprinkle math into everyday activities

  • Play games — Explore math concepts and keep your child calculating by playing math and logic games such as chess, Set, and even algebraic bingo.
  • Get into design — Get your child thinking about the long-term value of math. This week, slip it into conversation that you need math skills to design the perfect pair of jeans, be an architect, invent a video game, and even to work as a successful garden designer. Think about your child’s passions and drop a few hints about how that profession might use math.

Boost those skills

Talk to your child’s teacher

Even if you can’t (or just don’t want to) solve a linear equation, your child’s teacher will have ideas for how you can help at home. Tell the teacher about your child’s passions or extracurricular activities, such as baseball or drawing, and ask for suggestions for how to inject some eighth grade math into those pastimes.

Help your child ease test anxiety


Additional & Supporting Content

What it means
How to help

Eighth graders are expected to learn:

  • Irrational numbers: Identifying decimals that go on endlessly but don’t repeat (like pi), and wrapping their heads around the difference between rational and irrational numbers.
  • Volume: Finding the volume of increasingly difficult 3-D figures, like spheres, cylinders, and cones.

Want to know more?

If this were the Academy Awards, this category would be Best Supporting Actor and Actress. They’re not the stars, but the movie wouldn’t exist without them. This content is given less weight on the PARCC exam, but it supports the major work of the grade and sets your child up for success in future grades.

Now, let’s get radical and irrational — with numbers, that is.

Irrational numbers

Students learn to categorize numbers within the number system as rational or irrational. Remember: irrational numbers are numbers that cannot be expressed as a fraction; they are numbers that go on forever without any repeating numbers or sequences of numbers after the decimal. Pi — or π — is the most famous irrational number. Students usually write it as 3.14, but it actually keeps going on and on (and never ends).

Watch this video on rational and irrational numbers.


Eighth graders learn a new twist on the volume formula (v = l x w x h) they mastered in earlier grades. Why? They’ll be working with round objects, like spheres (v = 4/3 πr3) and cylinders (v = πr2h), where, for example, π is involved in finding the area of the base of the cylinder’s circle. They’ll also work with cones, which become thinner at one end (v = πr2 h3).

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

  • Your child may have trouble understanding the difference between rational and irrational numbers.
  • Your child may need help understanding the various formulas for finding the volume of spheres, cylinders, and cones.
How to help

Start with a great attitude

Want to know the most important thing you can do to help your child with math? It’s having a positive attitude! Find ways to express and demonstrate your positive attitude about math. Why? Because research shows that a parent’s attitude toward math is contagious; so just by having a good attitude you are helping your child with math. So yes, you are a math whiz — and your child is one, too.

Sprinkle math into everyday activities

  • What’s rational? — Ask your child to look up the word rational in the dictionary. Why does she think some numbers are called rational and others are called irrational?
  • Fill it up — Play with spherical and cylindrical volume. How much water fits into an orb-shaped vase or bowl? How about a cylindrical vase? Do they hold more than you’d think? Simply trying this out will help your child understand the concept of volume better.

Boost those skills

Talk to your child’s teacher

What is your child struggling with, exactly? For example, is it understanding the formulas? Or maybe it’s something in the application of a formula. Ask the teacher! When you find the glitch, you can help your child fix it together.

Help your child ease test anxiety


Mathematical Reasoning

What it means
How to help

Eighth graders are expected to learn to:

  • Explain functions: Understanding the input and output number and how they’re related to each other — and being able to explain it to someone else.
  • Defend their work: Explaining and justifying their work and their answer using grade-appropriate math vocabulary.
  • Correct mistakes: Evaluating their own work and their classmates’ work by identifying any errors and providing correct solutions.

Want to know more?

There’s a classic Monty Python sketch where a man goes into an argument clinic and finds that it’s not up to snuff. An argument isn’t just contradiction, he says to the professional arguer. Well! It CAN be! retorts the arguer. No it can’t! argues the customer. An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.

That’s the essence of Mathematical Reasoning. Students are expected to create arguments that support their work and share their reasoning. To do this, they’ll use what they know about numbers, equations, math rules, and models (charts, graphs, tables, etc.). Kids are expected to critique their classmates’ work and determine if an answer is correct or incorrect by identifying the strengths or the flaws in the math.

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

  • Your child may know how to solve a problem, but struggle to develop a clear argument to defend his work by explaining why he used certain tools or equations.
  • Your child may not understand all the procedures and concepts learned in eighth grade, making him unable to recognize where he or a classmate may have miscalculated or used the wrong operation. (See sample problems 1 and 2.)
  • Your child may not be able to prove his answer is correct by showing another way to solve the same problem. (See sample problem 2.)

Sample problems

Evaluating solutions

Sample problem 1: Critiquing solutions and explaining reasoning


Reviewing and revamping work

Eighth graders need to be able to evaluate and defend their work and critique their classmates’ work. The goal is to help kids really understand whether problems are solved properly — and why. If there are errors, students have to identify what went wrong and figure out how to fix them.

Sample problem 2: Critiquing and correcting math reasoning


How to help

Start with a great attitude

To paraphrase the noted astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson: Kids don’t have an innate fear of full moons. They’ll play in a full moon with no worries at all. They only get scared of magic or werewolves from adults telling them scary stories. The same goes for math. The fear we express influences what our children think and believe. So don’t make math scary for your children and they’ll keep on computing without fear.

Sprinkle math into everyday activities

  • Sugar, sugar — Get your child talking about sugar, math, and estimation with this hilarious, well-designed video lesson that asks kids to estimate the amount of sugar in a 20-ounce bottle of cola.
  • Talking through solutions — Ask your child to talk through a few problems from her math homework, explaining to you why she made the choices she did. This can be especially helpful on problems she finds challenging.

Boost those skills

Talk to your child’s teacher

If you suspect your child might be struggling with math reasoning, make an appointment to speak with his teacher. Tell the teacher what you’ve noticed and ask, Is this a math issue or more about reading? What’s the best way to help my child build his math reasoning skills?

Help your child ease test anxiety


Modeling & Application

What it means
How to help

Eighth graders are expected to:

  • Graph it: Reading a linear equation and plotting points on a graph.
  • Table it: Working with functions and filling in tables that show the input and output numbers.
  • Find it: Solving word problems, linear equations, proportional relationship questions, and volume queries using models — including diagrams, charts, graphs, tables, and equations.
  • Fix it: Checking their work against the context of the problem, the model they’ve used, and the math rules and procedures they know — and if their work isn’t reasonable or right, fixing their model (and/or equation) till it works.

Want to know more?

Eighth graders are expected to assess situations that could come up in everyday life and determine how to solve them. Modeling comes in handy in these situations. Modeling can mean a lot of things: diagrams, charts, tables, graphs, and even equations.

In eighth grade, students are expected to make sense of word problems that present situations they might encounter in the real world by using functions, expressions, equation, tables, graphs, and other representations. They’re also charged with understanding and applying the Pythagorean Theorem in the real world and to solve word problems.

When it comes to modeling and application, a required skill that sometimes goes unmentioned is the ability to identify which numbers, quantities, and relationships are important to finding the solution. In eighth grade and beyond, your child will increasingly encounter word problems with “extra” info in them — that is to say, data that would be present in a real-world situation but that wouldn’t be relevant to solving the problem. This ability to identify what’s important (and why) is a skill to work on with your child.

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

  • Your child may have difficulty using functions to model the slope of proportional relationships on a graph. (See sample problem 1.)
  • Your child may struggle with solving linear equations with one variable or pairs of simultaneous linear equations. (See sample problem 2.)
  • Your child may not understand how to apply the Pythagorean Theorem.

Sample problems

Problem solving requires students to choose which concepts and procedures to use and check their answers given the context of the problem. For example, in a right triangle, the hypotenuse is always the longest side. Does your child’s solution make sense given this math rule? It’s something your eighth grader should know and use to check her work.

As problem-solving skills develop, kids’ understanding of math concepts become more deeply ingrained.

A question from this section may be based on something a student could encounter in real life or a problem that does not have any context and is purely about math. Here is an example of a real-world problem.

Sample problem 1: Solving real-world problems


By now, eighth graders should understand how and why to use mathematical models. Students don’t learn concepts and procedures just to know them; they learn to be able to understand reality. Modeling is a key way to do that. In eighth grade, this concept gets driven home as students are expected to create and analyze increasingly complex models to make sense of real-world situations.

Sample problem 2: Modeling


How to help

Start with a great attitude

The next time you or your child are muttering bad things about math, go outside, look at nature, and marvel at the amazing beauty of math — from flower petals to pine cones, spider webs to beehives, and the rotation of the planets and the moon.

Sprinkle math into everyday activities

  • Truly cool math talks — This week, start talking about the big problems that math can solve by hosting your own little math lecture series with these math TED talks that’ll blow your mind. (We wish TED had included some women in this series, but the videos are great.)
  • Math and ecology — Got a nature lover on your hands? This TED Talk by Margaret Wertheim about the mathematics of coral offers a glimpse of how math is being used to solve ecological problems.

Boost those skills

Talk to your child’s teacher

People don’t go into teaching for the big bucks; they do it out of a desire to help others learn. Ask your child’s teacher where your child is struggling and what you can do to help out.

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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