Why Your Child Can Score 100% On Math Homework And Still Fail Their Tests
Is your child struggling to do well on tests even though they score high on all math homework?
Are you wondering how that’s possible?
Are you asking yourself: do they have test anxiety, do they actually not understand the material, or perhaps they simply copy their homework answers without learning anything?
This discrepancy between homework scores and test scores is, unfortunately, a very common problem among children, especially in high school and middle school. While it could be the case that your child simply copies answers from their friends or the internet, it is not likely.
So what is actually going on?
The reasons listed below are common for most children. I am confident that your child experiences most (if not all) of these reasons on a daily basis.
Your child’s homework likely isn’t actually checked.
There are 3 main ways the homework is checked:
– for completion
– for correctness
If your child’s homework score is 90%, and their teachers checks it for completion, it means that your child simply needs to turn in “something” that looks like they solved the problems – it doesn’t matter whether their work is correct or not.
If that sounds ridiculous to you and you’re asking yourself “how could this be considered a valid work?” – you’re right. Your child doesn’t learn absolutely anything from it.
If your child scores 90% on their homework, and it’s checked for correctness, that’s a better scenario.
In this case, the teacher actually checks if your child’s work is correct, or at least if their answers are correct. However, this style leaves a number of questions unanswered:
Does your hild analyze and understand their mistakes?
Does your child solve problems correctly and make minor mistakes, or are they completely confused?
Does your child solve problems quickly and confidently enough to perform well on tests?
Homework is not comprehensive so it doesn’t measure your child’s knowledge.
Homework doesn’t include all types of problems. It most often doesn’t include problems at high enough level to prepare your child for tests. Often times it’s a generic, cookie-cutter set of random problems from the chapter. Some of them are great problems. But most don’t repeat enough to give your child real, comprehensive practice. Not enough repetition means that even if your child sees types of problems in their homework, solves them correctly, and those types appear on their test, your child still won’t be able to solve them.
Homework doesn’t help your child prioritize.
To get an A or even a B+ in math, your child needs to focus on their greatest challenges. If their fundamentals are strong, they should be able to solve most of the problems correctly. If that’s the case, they need to focus on the top 10-20% hardest problems. Instead of doing that, homework gives them a broad practice of all types of problems. In other words, most of it is a waste of time.
Tests are harder than homework.
Especially in AP and Honors classes, the level of homework doesn’t match the level of tests because students are often expected to “learn on their own.” This is a completely ineffective approach to teaching, that frustrates many students and their parents.
Without the introduction or mentorship about what they are supposed to learn on their own, how to learn it, and how to study effectively, most children are left confused, frustrated and- what’s worse- blame themselves for not understanding the material.
The truth is- it’s every educator’s duty to help students all the way throughout their learning journey. Students should be mentored about how to learn the way that works for them, how to approach all types of problems, how to think analytically and critically, and how to study independently. Also, how to deal with inevitable mistakes and challenges of learning!
Instead, teachers assume the lazy approach of showing simple examples and leaving it up to students to “figure out” the rest, or fail.
Tests mean time limit and pressure.
The last, but not least important aspect is the reality of testing.
Homework is assigned several times a week.
Your child can do homework while sipping on hot chocolate in their bed, while watching Netflix and chatting with their friends. As a matter of fact, that’s how many teenagers do their homework!
No time limit, no stress.
Taking tests is exactly opposite. Tests usually encapsulate 3-4 weeks of material. They are taken under a time limit and test grades matter much more. The stakes are high. While each homework assignment can account for 1% of the grade or less, tests are anywhere between 6 to about 15% of the grade.
If your teenager didn’t sleep well, didn’t eat enough or is tired from yesterday’s game, it’s not a big deal when it comes to homework. On the test, however, it can make a big difference.