Spectrum Data Analysis and Probability 2014 Grades 6-8
Category Description for Spectrum Math 2015
The 2015 edition of the Spectrum Math series states that it is “Correlated to the Current State Standards.” This means there are significant changes in the series to bring it into alignment with the CCSS (which most states align to). Although the general format and structure of the books remain the same, the topics differ significantly at the middle school levels and reflect more advanced algebra and geometry content as well as increased content in data, probability, and statistics. Each chapter starts with a pretest (Check What You Know) and ends with a posttest (Check What You Learned). Lessons within each chapter cover a progression of skills. Instruction is minimal but examples precede each worksheet. To give you an idea of the differences in this edition, previously the 7th grade book started with chapters on whole numbers, fractions, decimals, percents, and calculating interest but the new edition starts with rational numbers, expressions, equations, and inequalities. Both cover ratios and proportions but terminology and content are different. The previous edition has sections on both English (customary) and metric measurement while those topics are not covered in the 2015 edition. Both editions have sections on probability, statistics, and geometry but the content of each is different and the newer edition is more advanced. There is also a greater emphasis on problem solving and word problems in the newer edition. In general, I would say the 7th grade book is roughly one year ahead of the previous edition.
More than a practice book, each grade level features comprehensive coverage of the basic skills. Books are two-toned, have a no-nonsense appearance, and emphasize skill development and practice, “without complex terminology or abstract symbolism.” This uncluttered approach helps students focus on mastering the fundamentals. There are lots of nice features in this series: each contains a scope and sequence chart for the entire program, has basic facts tests that can be used for drill, and includes an assignment record sheet for you to use in making specific page assignments. They also have a form for recording student test scores, which also provides an immediate assessment of the grade as “excellent,” “very good,” “good,” “fair,” or “poor,” and include a complete answer key at the back of the book. All of the pages are perforated, so you can tear out student sheets, or the key, easily. Chapters each begin with a pre-test to help identify problem areas, or determine if your child can “place out” of that chapter and try the next one. The pre-test comes in two parts; one is purely computational, while the other is a problem-solving pre-test which uses the requisite skills in realistic, everyday problems. The lessons begin with developmental exercises that introduce each new skill. Visual aids or models are used to demonstrate the concept on these pages. Several pages of exercises follow, providing ample practice. Again, these include both computational pages and problem-solving pages. Chapters end with a test. Also included are a mid-book test (about halfway through the course to test all previously-learned skills), and a final test, which covers all of the chapters. Most books are over 150 pages.