5th Grade Math BEST Standards

by | Jun 15, 2021 | Math, Teaching Strategies, Uncategorized | 0 comments

What can fifth grade teachers expect from the new Florida BEST Standards for math? How do they compare to the MAFS standards? What are fifth grade students now expected to learn?

Set your mind at ease, because I am going to break down the new fifth grade Math BEST standards. In this post, I will quickly analyze the changes and how they will affect your classroom.

How are the BEST Standards organized?

In fifth grade, Math BEST standards are divided into 7 subcategories, while the MAFS had 6:

  • Number Sense and Operations – Previously Numbers and Operations in Base 10
  • Measurement
  • Data Analysis and Probability – These standards were split into their own category. They were previously in Measurement and Data.
  • Algebraic Reasoning – Was Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  • Geometric Reasoning – Previously Geometry
  • Fractions – In MAFS, these standards were called Numbers & Operations: Fractions.
  • Mathematical Practice – This is now called Mathematical Thinking and Reasoning. These are the global standards students are expected to use throughout their school career.

The Changes

Honestly, there are not many major changes to the math standards. A lot of the updates feel like changes in wording more than an actual change in concepts taught. Fifth grade does add a few new skills, and a few others are slightly altered.

For ease of organization, I am going to discuss the new standards by subcategory.

Mathematical Thinking & Reasoning

These standards are the overarching skills students are meant to improve throughout their math classes.

The word precision was changed to fluency (MA.K12.MTR.3.1 – Complete tasks with mathematical fluency.)

The big changes are in what was removed:

  • “Create models with mathematics.”
  • “Select and use appropriate mathematical tools strategically.”

More discussion on these two things later. These two standards seem to tie into many of the standards that either had their wording changed or were omitted in BEST.

Number Sense and Operations

There were not many changes in this section. The big removal was exponents – that has moved to sixth grade.

Other than that, the big changes were:

  • Multiplying multi-digit whole numbers changed from four digits by two digits to five digits by two digits.
  • Adding and subtracting multi-digit numbers with decimals changed to read to thousandths (it had been hundredths.)
  • Multiplying and dividing multi-digit numbers with decimals now specifies “with decimals to the tenths by one-tenth and one-hundredth.”
  • The standards involving explaining patterns were removed.

The other new standards in this section are:

  • 5.NSO.1.3 – Compose and decompose multi-digits numbers with decimals to the thousandths in multiple ways, using the values of the digits in each place. Demonstrate the compositions or decompositions using objects, drawings, expressions, or equations.
  • 5.NSO.2.2 – Represent remainders as fractions (without using simplest form.)

Algebraic Reasoning

This subcategory also largely remains the same, but there are some small changes.

Things to note:

  • The standards now specifically state word problems should include remainders that need to be interpreted in context. This doesn’t really change what is taught, as those problems were already used under MAFS.
  • Students are now to evaluate multi-step numerical expressions, whereas they did not evaluate them before.

New standards include:

MA.5.AR.2.1 – Translate written real-world and mathematical descriptions into numerical expressions and numerical expressions into written mathematical descriptions.

MA.5.AR.2.3 – Determine and explain whether an equation involving any of the four operations is true or false.


Measurement standards have a few changes. The Measurement and Data category has been split into multiple subcategories, so the changes will be discussed under the new corresponding sections.

  • The types of measurement students are to learn has increased. In fourth grade, students were to learn meters, pounds, liters, and time, as well as yards, feet, inches, gallons, quarts, pints and cups.
  • Money word problems are now in fifth-grade standards. (Solve multi-step real-world problems involving money using decimal notation.)

Data Analysis and Probability

These standards had been in a subcategory with Measurement in MAFS.

The big change here is the addition of mode, median, and range, which had been a sixth-grade standard. These concepts now begin in fourth grade. Fifth grade adds mean to the other three concepts.

Also, the MAFs standards on line plots have changed to:

MA.5.DP.1.1 – Collect and represent numerical data, including fractional and decimal values, using tables, line graphs, or line plots.


Overall, fractions standards are the same.


Geometry also stays the same. The one new standard moved down from sixth grade:

  • 5.GR.1.2 – Identify and classify three-dimensional figures into categories based on their defining attributes. Figures are limited to right pyramids, right prisms, right circular cylinders, right circular cones, and spheres.


Having more subcategories is just a change – not better or worse. Teachers will get used to them.

Outside of some skill additions, the standards did not change very much. Unlike previous grades, it seemed like the changes made the standards more specific, although the concepts taught aren’t necessarily changed.

Fifth grade really did not see a lot of changes in concepts. The big changes to note are:

  • Measurement did change which measurements students will use.
  • 3D figures have moved to fifth.
  • The other big change to fifth grade is the addition of mode, median, and range (beginning in fourth) and mean (starting in fifth.)

Geometry seems to be moving standards down a grade level. Many skills moved from fourth to third, and I noticed movement in these standards in other grades, too.

One of my critiques is that the BEST standards removed some of the specific building blocks in lower grades that help students understand the thinking and learn the vocabulary they will need in future grades, such as understanding the distributive property and understanding fraction comparisons need to be on the same whole.

The Benchmark Clarifications are one of my big critiques of the BEST standards, but there are not as many in fifth grade as in other grades. While I appreciate having the standards clarified, there are so many of these clarifications attached to different standards. It is a headache for teachers to have to constantly refer to a document to see all the clarifications.

The reason these subpoints are necessary is the condensing of multiple MAFS standards into one BEST standard. While having fewer standards may be convenient, it is not easier to manage fewer standards if they have multiple addendums. Some of the clarifications are obvious, but teachers will have to pay close attention to others.

Standards Resources

My standards posters and checklists are being updated (and improved!) If you previously purchased my Florida Standards resources, you get the updates for free – just check your My Purchases area in TPT.


Over twenty plus years, my educational career has spanned four continents and two states, as well as eight grade levels!

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