Math CRAs

Mon, 02/24/2014 - 08:42 -- Hillary Procknow

This entry marks the third in a series of five blogs that will explore the College Readiness Assignments (CRAs) in each of the 5 subject areas in which they are housed.

As with all the College Readiness Assignments (CRAs) on, The Math CRAs address the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and the Texas Collage and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS).

Math CRAs were originally developed for Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Mathematical Models with Applications, and Pre-Calculus; however, several of them can be adapted to work in more than one course. You can see which course each CRA was developed for in its description on the Math CRAs page.  You can also search for CRAs that match your particular course by using the drop down menu on the left of the Math CRAs page and selecting the appropriate course.

Below, we review three of the Math CRAs to give you a sense of what is available.  Remember to check out the entire list here.


Secret Identities

  • This CRA was developed for Algebra II students.  It works very well as an introduction to CRAs because it is brief (it will likely take between 3-4 class sessions) and gives students a good idea of how a CRA is structured and what skills will be needed for working through other CRAs.  The mathematics content contained in it is accessible to most students, so they are not likely to get bogged down with more difficult math concepts.
  • Pattern recognition and symbolic representation of relationships are fundamental skills in mathematics, but sophisticated patterns can be difficult to discern and write down. This assignment challenges students to determine identities that govern given number patterns and then express the identities algebraically.  Teachers start by showing students three equations and asking them to look for a pattern. Students then go on to investigate other patterns and develop explanations for them.

Bull’s Eye Math

  • Bull’s Eye Math was written for students of Geometry and Mathematical Models with Applications. It is longer and involves more student work than Secret Identities.  It involves more hands on experimentation on the part of students and is a very engaging activity. Not only does it address a number of the Math CCRS, it also covers several Cross-Disciplinary CCRS, so you know that you are exposing your students to multiple skills that are relevant in many areas of their lives.
  • For this CRA, students are asked to use their knowledge of circles, area of circles, and sectors to calculate probabilities found in games that involve circular targets.  In the end, students are asked to design a target of their own based on certain parameters.

Checking the Numbers – Independent Study

  • This online Independent Study version of the CRA walks students through a high-interest assignment, introducing students to Universal Processing Codes, or UPCs, and ISBN book numbers, which they will recognize from bar codes.  They will be surprised to find out that these numbers are more than product and title identifiers; there is actually a mathematical principle in their construction!
  • Retailers use these numbers daily, but how do they ensure that these numbers are entered correctly when an item is purchased? Students will use a systematic method and mathematical principles to easily identify common errors in these frequently used numbers. They have the opportunity to provide narrative as well as mathematical answers to all questions in the three stages of this assignment, including the extension, which will require some research.
  • As an Independent Study CRA, this assignment is designed to be completed with only minimal guidance from an instructor, so it is ideal for students desiring extra credit, further practice, or a check on their readiness. Students who are taking Algebra I or Algebra II will find this assignment will support the skills they are working on.
  • Finally, teachers, don’t forget that this assignment is also available as a classroom CRA you can use with all your students.  You can find it here.

A Note on Math Scoring Guides:

Remember, CRAs are meant to develop more than students’ math content knowledge.  They introduce students to key cognitive and foundational skills needed to do well in both college and career.  Because these skills are so important, they are also included in the assessment of these assignments.  This means that scoring student work in math involves considering how students persist and work through problems.  See our Anatomy of a Scoring Guide video on the Resources page of to learn more about CRA Scoring Guides.

Also, all CRAs on the website were field tested by high school, community college, and university faculty to ensure they are both easy for educators to use and effective in helping students prepare for college and career.

For our next installment in the Subject Area blog series, we will look at the Science CRAs on March 10.

This blog entry was developed in collaboration with Aaron Smith, Site Coordinator with The UTeach Institute at The University of Texas at Austin.