- Sharon Hancock

# The Computation Conundrum and how to fix it

Every year homeschoolers across the United States are required to take a national standardized test as proof of academic progress.[i] [ii] The majority of students regularly score at or above grade level. And yet scores for the math computation section often seem considerably lower in comparison. Why?

Math computation encompasses basic math functions: adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. That sounds simple enough for kindergarten through third grade.

As students progress, they learn to use these four functions in more ways. So the math computation skills expand across whole numbers, mixed numbers, fractions, decimals, percentages, ratios, estimations, and conversions (like converting a fraction into a percent).

One reason students score lower on the section covering such skills is lack of familiarity. Tests have time limits. If you count on your fingers to figure out 5+17 or 24/6, it’s naturally going to take longer, especially when you’re faced with lengthy equations, like 834 X 291.

The solution? Commit math basics to memory so you can rely on instant recall rather than your fingers. Here are two ways to do that:

1. Flash cards: Use store-bought or make your own on 3X5 cards.

2. Xtra Math: Check out this free website that helps kids get quicker with math basics. https://xtramath.org/#/home/index

Then practice, practice, practice. A little bit of daily practice goes a long way. Hopefully it’ll contribute to higher math computation scores, as well.

----------------------------------------- [i] Common examples include the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS), Stanford Achievement Test, and the California Achievement Test (CAT). [ii] Twenty-six states (and the District of Columbia) don’t require any annual homeschool assessments. Those include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.