How 8th graders can learn 3rd Grade Mathematics in four months

The poor results recorded by students in the National Assessment mock exam call for drastic measures. Children have a lot to recover in an extremely short time, which is why the Ministry of Education comes up with some proposals. Among them: dedicated remedial intervention plans, discussions with students and parents, but also the preparation of performance reports. What should be done, however, concretely, in the classroom? Two teachers explained to “Adevărul” the recipe for success.

Four months separate us from the National Assessment exam. Photo source: archive

There is not much time left to reflect dreamily on what happened at the mock National Assessment, after which we learned that more than half of the children in the 8th grade do not know the basic rules: they do not know how to write correctly and they do not know how to 3rd grade math operations. That is why it must be acted quickly and targeted. The Minister of Education, Ligia Deca, announced the first measures: plans, discussions and reports. As for the remaining time, less than four months, she thinks we have enough.

Ligia Deca proposes discussions, analyzes and reports

“I think that for any kind of progress, we need to know how we stand. For the first time, we were able to have the results down to the level of each assessment item. Now we know which are the areas, in each school, for each child, that need a remedial intervention. We have time to make interventions until the National Assessment and we have time to evaluate which are the areas that, through the teaching-learning process, are not sufficiently well understood by the students. I think it is a first step so that everything that means students' mathematical skills are improved”, declared Ligia Deca.

The official also presented a package of measures that will be taken at the school level. “We will also require that every school that has an average of results below 7 have a dedicated remedial intervention plan, so that we can also monitor this plan through the inspection process. We want to make the most of this remaining time, especially since we now know which areas we must insist on, say, for children”the Minister of Education also said.

Deca also specified that discussions with students and parents will be organized in each school. “First of all, when we made the synthetic results public at the national level, I requested that each school organize results discussion sessions in the chancellery, but also with each family, so that each student knows what he did well , what he did not do well and what he must recover”. Also, each county school inspectorate will produce a performance report at the level of the respective region:I have seen that some inspectorates have already succeeded in this. In Iasi, we have nuanced results, in terms of performance depending on the environment, depending on the type of school and so on”, the Minister of Education also said.

How the teachers will proceed in the classroom

Beyond five-year plans, discussions and analyses, the bull must be taken by the horns. And the greatest pressure is now on the shoulders of teachers. For they have the difficult task of raising a child from grade 2 in mathematics to 5 or 6. How will they proceed? “There is no general recipe for success. Every teacher will have to call on intuition and inventiveness,” Ioana Rădulescu, mathematics teacher, declared for “Adevărul”. “An effort will have to be made to work with each student individually to fix where they have gaps. Time is very short. Work must be done punctually, specifically, on the gap that each child lacks. But if you have 25 students in a class, you realize that this is extremely difficult. It's a considerable effort for a teacher”.

The children did not learn for eight years, and now we are waiting for a miracle? It won't happen, say many voices in Education. “What should be done now? An intense preparation”, Bianca Bibiruș, a Romanian language teacher, also shares this opinion. “Every teacher knows his class, knows his children, their rate of assimilation of information, but also their availability for study. From case to case, some methods, some sheets, some practice tests must be prepared. I believe these are essential for preparing for the exam in the short time we have left,” the teacher also mentioned.

The training tests, says teacher Bianca Bibiruș, prepare the children with the requirements, with the way of formulating them, but also with the correction scale. Basically, students are taught what to score, what to insist on in that test. They are templates, it's true, but there's no time to philosophize. “Chances of recovery in the Romanian language would be. We could see an evolution of one point, maximum two. Children could progress, but only with the support of teachers and parents.” Bianca Bibiruș also declared.

In addition to these measures, teachers and school principals can also consider other solutions, such as “oorganizing remedial sessions or extra tutorials, involving students in extracurricular activities that stimulate interest in mathematics, and adapting teaching methods to suit the individual needs of low-achieving students, this is also the opinion of Prof. Ioana Rădulescu.

Communication between teachers and parents, essential

Another solution, he also specified, would be “regular communication between the teacher and the parent to keep the student up to date with the objectives achieved during the lessons, with the work done during the lessons and with what still needs to be recovered”.

Last but not least, the student's internal motivation is essential and can be encouraged by providing positive feedback and constant support from the teacher and parents.

And Prof. Bianca Bibiruș believes that teachers, students and parents must be involved in this process. Nothing can be done without their direct involvement. Moreover, educators would also be partly to blame. “Children come with gaps since primary school. Not since middle school. A student who doesn't know how to write correctly doesn't know how to do it from the second, third grade…not from the eighth grade. Here, the teachers are also involved, although they were not talked about, they are left aside…“, the teacher of Romanian language and literature also stated.