Math Challenges & Pathway to Address Them

The most recent NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress), considered the gold-standard federal exam given last fall, showed that the nation hit the lowest level of math performance for 13-year-olds in decades. Results in reading were not much better. These latest NAEP results are the federal government’s final major release of data on pandemic learning loss. Most troubling is that these students in the ages of 10 to 13 are learning in a crucial period focused on mastering foundation skills. A key finding shows that there are troubling gaps in the basic skills of our students. The nation faces a major challenge.

Mastery Learning Contribution

This may be a time to adopt a mastery learning approach, based on the premise that all students will achieve a high level of understanding in a given domain if given enough time and appropriate instruction. This instructional approach requires students to demonstrate a deep level of understanding of what is being learned before progressing to another area. It demands planning for change and examining success. A key practice is the continual monitoring of student performance through formative assessments of concepts and topics being learned which require more than solving a calculation, but being able to justify it. A mastery learning approach also provides support with students helping fellow students.

Continuous Measurement for Monitoring Math Development

In further addressing the importance of measurement, I see a valuable contribution that EdVistas’ Degrees of Math Power (DMP) assessment makes. DMP is designed to track a student’s progress in each math domain from the elementary level into beginning high school. It’s an instructional tool that is computer-based with immediate reporting and may be administered quickly and continuously to monitor progress and function as the basis for determining interventions. The assessments measure mathematical performance for each math domain on an absolute scale. Math domains with grade ranges include: Addition & Subtraction PK-5, Measurement K-5, Geometry K-5 & 4-8, Place Value 1-6, Multiplication & Division 2-5, Fractions 2-7, Number sense 5-8, Expressions Equations & Inequalities 5-9, Statistics & Probability 5-9, and Ration & Proportion 6-9.

DMP questions include stand-alone skill-based questions as well as passages where math problem-solving skills are embedded in real-life situations. Attention is given to the level of text difficulty in which problems are presented to avoid the issue of reading proficiency impacting math performance. Combined with Mastery Learning, DMP provides a technical dimension to support both student performance and teacher actions.

Finally, this math challenge will demand approaches that work to shorten the time needed to get students to mastery. Our administrators and teachers are smart and given a resource such as DMP will meet the math current math challenges. Those interested in learning more about DMP should contact Educational Vistas at 518-344-7022.

Dr. Bruce H. Crowder is a senior researcher for Educational Vistas, Inc. His work is primarily focused on creating pathways for deeper learning for all students through student performance and a dynamic curriculum replete with strategic teaching. Dr. Crowder may be reached at

Educational Vistas, Inc. provides comprehensive assessment scoring services, teacher evaluation software, data analysis, and other products and services in the for-profit K-12 education sector. We offer in-district services and high-quality software with the intent of improving student performance and the educational system in general. When industry leaders, educators, technologists, and the community collaborate, we can streamline data sharing and analytics to identify areas of weakness and develop strategies to resolve any issues. We have built our reputation on strong relationships with school districts, exemplary customer service, outstanding product quality, and commitment to excellence. The team at Educational Vitas, Inc. has consistently grown and worked towards our ambitious goals since our founding. Only through teamwork, creativity, and diligence can we continue to reach our goals. Contact us today to learn more!