Math Placement Criteria for Grade 5 to Grade 6

The process for math placement for sixth grade takes the entire fifth grade year and involves several instruments. The purpose of this page is to acquaint you with these instruments and to provide you with the benchmarks which we use for placement. The math department also feels it is important to include a general description of a student in each course. These characteristics are:


Students can follow a model given concrete examples and experiences. They demonstrate proficiency with previous topics after considerable review. The course provides explicit instruction in reading the text and in how to use resources. Extensive class time is spent processing homework. The focus is on extensive practice and activities which extend and refine concepts.


Students can follow a model and can reach an abstract level of understanding with guidance. They can assimilate and reproduce ideas in variations of problem solving situations already experienced. Students demonstrate consistent facility with computational skills. The course provides students with background information so that they are able to read the text with understanding. Moderate class time is spent processing homework. Students are regularly asked to apply concepts to new situations. A test/quiz average of 70 or better must be maintained.


Students readily grasp new concepts and relate those concepts to other situations. Possessing excellent computational skills, they have insights into complex relationships and see patterns beyond expectations. They demonstrate enthusiasm for the subject and are comfortable with an increasing level of abstraction and difficulty. Students are regularly asked to read sections of the text to preview the next class. A minimal amount of class time is spent processing homework. Students are often asked to apply concepts to novel situations in both class exercises and in assessments. A test/quiz average of 80 or better must be maintained.

We use three instruments in determining placement:

Fifth Grade Mid-Year Assessment

The fifth grade mid-year assessment is part of the Everyday Mathematics 4 curriculum. It covers concepts taught in the first half of the year including whole number multiplication and division, volume, fraction and decimal concepts, powers of ten, and coordinate grids.

Test Average

Every student takes a test at the end of each unit of study.  The average of these tests is calculated and used as one component of the placement process.

Continental Math League Contests (CML)

These contests are given from November through March. Each consists of six non-routine problems which are to be solved in 30 minutes without the aid of a calculator, ruler, protractor or graph paper. Students may use any method they like and are required only to give an answer.  These challenges appeal to students who do the work in their heads and have difficulty explaining their process in writing.

The chart below provides the benchmarks used to place students in the sixth grade:

InstrumentDirected MathGuided MathIndependent Math
Midyear Assessment (%)Up to 6970-9192-100
Unit Test Average (%)Up to 7778-9495-100
CML (%)*Up to 3435-64Above 64

* For Independent placement a minimum score of 35 is required


The student placement process is repeated at the end of each grade, using grade-specific criteria to determine the math level placement for the following year.  In some cases, a student’s level may be changed within their current grade during the school year, according to their current classroom performance. If a student exhibits superior classroom and assessment performance in their current class, it may be possible for them to move to a more rigorous level in that grade. Superior assessment performance will be determined by four successive scores of 95 or above, not including the first two assessments of the year. That student would then be allowed to take the unit assessments of the next level, in addition to their own classroom assessment, to determine their readiness. If a student’s assessment average drops below an 80 in the most advanced level, or below a 70 in others, parents / guardians will be notified as to a possible need to move that student to a less rigorous level.

In some cases, certain 5th grade students may be considered for placement directly into 7th grade math. In order to be considered for this placement a student must meet the following criteria:

  • 5th grade Midyear test score 98%
  • 5th grade unit assessment avg. 98%
  • 5th grade CML average 82%

Upon meeting these benchmarks, the classroom teacher and Math Specialist may recommend this student for 7th grade Independent Math.
If a student receives these recommendations, they would then be eligible to take a series of assessments in June of their 5th grade year to determine their current mastery of 6th grade material. The first of these is the CMS 6th grade Baseline test. If this score is at least 65% the student may then take the following assessments, and upon earning the scores noted may be placed in the 7th grade Independent Math class.

  • 6th grade CMLs 65%
  • 6th grade Fraction/Decimal mastery test 92%
  • 6th grade Prognosis test 23