Thursday, June 02, 2005

Tough Singapore math questions

I have been reading the testimony of John Hoven On Behalf of The Center for Education Reform on the Draft 2004 Mathematics Framework for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

In his testimony, Mr. Hoven compares the type of questions Singapore students are asked to the toughest NAEP questions which turn out to be fluff in comparison. Not only that, the much tougher Singapore questions are asked in much lower grades.

Mr. Hoven's testimony contains numerous examples from Singapore's tests. It's hard to imagine something like this happening here.

Here are a few examples:

Singapore students learn the concept of percentages in 5th grade, and they work much harder problems without a calculator – like these:

1 3 ) A blouse and a skirt were sold at a discount of 25% if they were bought together. If bought separately, the blouse would cost $25 and the skirt would cost 30% more than the blouse. How much would the blouse and skirt cost after the discount if they were bought together? Give your answer to the nearest cent.

1 4 ) A bank pays interest at a rate of 4% every year. If Christine has $5000 in the bank, how much money will she have altogether after 2 years?

1 5 ) 30% of the marbles in a box were blue. 45% of them were green and the rest orange. If there were 200 more blue marbles than orange ones, how many marbles were in the box?

Here is a 6th grade Singapore problem on proportionality:

1 6 ) A basket of clothes, when half full, weighed 2.4 kg. The basket became 5/8 full when another 0.5 kg of clothes were added in. What was the weight of the empty basket?
This is fifth and sixth grade!


Mr. Person said...

Great site. Finally, something I can consider adding to my blogroll.

Especially interesting is the length of the Singapore student books. Levels 5A and 5B of Primary Mathematics use a total of 192 pages. The first U.S. basal textbook that I picked up off my shelf uses 690 pages!

Mr. Person said...

Sorry, forgot to leave my site:

Catherine Johnson said...

I'm thrilled you've posted on this subject.

I own the entire Primary Mathematics series (in theory I am re-teaching myself elementary math, start to finish, using the books).

They are far advanced compared to what our kids learn.

There is an online placement test for the series, and at the end of 4th grade my son tested into Primary Math 3B, which is the book Singapore children use in the second half of 3rd grade.

At the end of 4th grade, Christopher was already a year and a half behind kids in Singapore.

That gap just keeps growing as far as I can tell.

I've also posted comparison problems at this address:

Will check out J.D. Fisher's site shortly---!

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