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Effective Strategies for Teaching Mathematics to Adolescents that Could Increase

Scores on Standardized Tests

Tiana C. Tibbs

215 Oxford Lane

Warner Robins, GA 31088

An Annotated Bibliography Submitted to:

Dr. D. A. Battle of Georgia Southern University

in partial fulfillment of the requirements for

FRLT 7130 – Y01

Spring 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

Statesboro, Georgia


Effective Strategies for Teaching Mathematics to Adolescents that Could Increase

Scores on Standardized Tests

As a third year math teacher, I have been under pressure to get the Criterion Referenced

Competency Test (CRCT) Math scores up. Across the state of Georgia, many students score low

on the CRCT Math and in the county I work in, the math scores are even lower than the state’s

average. When I got into teaching, I did not realize how much of a weakness math was to the

average middle school student. As I was growing up, even though math was not my favorite

subject, I did not find learning math difficult. When I decided to become a teacher through the

Teacher Alternative Preparation Program (TAPP), I was told I would teach math because of my

major. Going through those TAPP seminars, they taught you the basics of teaching but I feel I

did not learn effective strategies for teaching mathematics to help my students. My intended

goals for this research is to find out what I can do to make my students successful in mathematics

where it can also lead to an increase on math scores on standardized tests, particularly the CRCT.

The databases that I primarily did my research on were the Academic Search Complete

and the JSTOR via Google Scholar. If the article was not available for viewing through these

databases and appeared to be helpful in my research based on reading the abstract, I looked for

the article through Google. I mainly concentrated on articles that focused on strategies and

interventions to use during instruction and the perceptions of a middle school student when it

comes to mathematics.

Dumais, S. (2009). The academic attitudes of American teenagers, 1990–2002: Cohort and

gender effects on math achievement. Social Science Research, 38(4), 767-780.



This article is about students’ attitudes on mathematics achievement test scores. It analyzed their

extracurricular participation on how it affects their mathematics achievement test scores. The

study was done using data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 and the

Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002. The author compared the results from the students who

were class of 2002 and 2004. The author also compared the attitudes and activities between the

two genders for math achievement scores.

Legg, A., & Locker Jr., L. (2009). Math performance and its relationship to math anxiety and

metacognition. North American Journal of Psychology, 11(3), 471-485. Retrieved from



This article is about how math anxiety affects students when it comes to their performance in

math. The math anxiety can lead to avoidance of careers that requires math skills and taking

college math courses. What contributes to successful math thinking are the ranges from the

components operating within the memory system that helps with problem solving and the use of

cognitive strategies. The author examines what mechanisms are involved in the intrusion of

anxiety in performances such as individual differences in working memory capacity and the

nature of the math problems themselves.

O'Donnell, B. (2009). What effective math teachers have in common. Teaching Children

Mathematics, 16(2), 118-125. Retrieved from


In this article, it talks about strategies to getting your students to problem solve. As teachers, we

do not give our students that much faith and time when it comes to working a problem and we

follow procedural steps to help guide them to the correct answer. The article says as teachers,

we should do the opposite of that and provides the strategies on how to guide our children

differently than from what we are used to.

Pogrow, S. (2004). SUPERMATH: An alternative approach to improving math performance in

grades 4 through 9. Phi Delta Kappan, 86(4), 297-303. Retrieved from http://proxygsu-


This article is about an alternative approach created by Stanley Pogrow. He talks about in the

article how many students are uninterested in problem solving that requires real life examples

that most adults encounter. Relating math to the “fantasy” world or another concept that students

enjoy is the way to go about building their problem solving skills. His approach creates higher

order thinking skills in students which in turn will improve their abilities in math and

standardized tests.

Poncy, B., Skinner, C., & Jaspers, K. (2007). Evaluating and comparing interventions designed

to enhance math fact accuracy and fluency: Cover, copy, and compare versus taped

problems. Journal of Behavioral Education, 16(1), 27-37.


In this article, it talks about procedures to enhance math fact accuracy and fluency in elementary

students. Many students lack in the basic skills that affects students later on in middle grades

mathematics. This article discusses several strategies and procedures to allow students to acquire


basic computation skills. These strategies will help facilitate subsequent levels of skill and

concept development.

Schorr, R., Firestone, W., & Monfils, L. (2003). State testing and mathematics teaching in New

Jersey: The effects of a test without other supports. Journal for Research in Mathematics

Education, 34(5), 373-405. Retrieved from

In this article, it talks about the teaching practices of some New Jersey teachers. Their state test

has been aligned with state and national standards. Teachers said they are practicing different

strategies for their lessons to reflect the state and national standards and the test, however, direct

observations are not showing these changes. With the absence of effective professional

development, there are minimal changes in teaching practice in preparation for the state test.

Strong, R., Perini, M., Silver, H., & Thomas, E. (2004). Creating a differentiated mathematics

classroom. Educational Leadership, 61(5), 73-78. Retrieved from http://proxygsu-


This article focuses on the different mathematical learning styles. It also provides different

strategies to adapt to these learning styles to facilitate student learning. The article has several

different models and styles on how to instruct a mathematics course. It mentions how to assess

the students. If a teacher assess a student one way, it may not be fair for someone who has a

different learning style.


Switzer, J. (2010). Bridging the math gap. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 15(7),

400-405. Retrieved from

This article focuses on bridging the gap between connections learned in elementary school and

middle school students. Middle school teachers may often have some sense of what the students

learned in elementary school, there are many factors that inhibit communication between

elementary and middle school teachers on how and what math that students learned in

elementary school. If teachers have an idea of their students’ prior knowledge, it helps middle

school teachers to better bridge the gap between elementary and high school.

Witzel, B., & Riccomini, P. (2007). Optimizing math curriculum to meet the learning needs of

students. Preventing School Failure, 52(1), 13-18. Retrieved from http://proxygsu-


In this article, it talks about an 8-step strategy to help teachers make their math lessons more

effective to increase math achievement in all students. It has been reported that students about

30% of students are scoring below the basic level. Most of the math’s content sequence and

objectives are based on the adopted mathematics textbook. There is a need to develop effective

strategies to better implement mathematics curriculum and materials. The author provides

adequate and appropriate modifications to help increase the achievement in mathematics for all


Implications for Applications to Educational Settings


The articles that I found were very useful and beneficial to me as a teacher. I was able to

find ways on how I can change my instruction in hopes to improving math scores on the CRCT.

One of the articles that I found very interesting was by Switzer (2010). That article hit right at

home. As a 6th grade teacher, I have a hard time figuring out what math was taught and how it

was taught. I am always learning different concepts from my students each year I have taught to

help me get an idea of what they have learned and how they learned it. Since we are using the

Georgia Performance Standards which is completely different from how I learned in school, I

need to understand where my students are coming from. One of the techniques that the article

focuses on is alternative algorithms. It takes on a different approach than the traditional way of

developing conceptual understanding of operation, number, and place value. Students are

encouraged to invent their own strategies for solving problems and explain why those strategies

work. It helps students develop the type of understanding needed to accomplish these

mathematical goals (Switzer, 2010). The alternative algorithm approach, I feel, is a great tool to

help students who are still weak in basic skills in middle school.

Reflecting on my experiences as a teacher, I have found myself always guiding my

students to an answer instead of allowing them to find it on their own even if it causes

frustration. There have been many times where I have altered an assignment only because I felt

like the question(s) was way over their head and I did not want to build any frustration on their

part or even for me. Life is not that way. According to O’Donnell (2009), as teachers, we need

to give our students the responsibility and set high expectations for them. When it comes to

standardized tests like the CRCT, we cannot be there for them and help guide them to the correct

answer to the tests. That will only build more frustration on their end with frustration that they


are not used to. Engaging students cognitively is an important part of learning and we must allow

them to find their way to an answer.

Also, what I really found interesting was in the article by Strong, Perini, Silver, and

Thomas, (2004). I hear the word “differentiate” all the time and I think I am doing it in my

instruction but I can do a better job of it. I thought it was an easy task but it is not. The

strategies in the article were very useful to use in my instruction. However, what I found even

more interesting is to differentiate your assessments. I am always hearing to differentiate

instruction but not assessments. I never thought one assessment may be fair to one student but

unfair to another.

I feel like I can go on about my findings in my research. I learned so many different

approaches I can use in my classroom in the last couple of months of doing research than the

three years I have been teaching. I am also going to take some of these approaches and share it

with my co-workers because they are in the same situation as me and they do not know where to

start. Hopefully, I will see some improvement next year with my students and seeing an increase

in their problem solving skills and improving scores on the CRCT.