Academic journal article School Psychology Review

A Preliminary Investigation into the Identification and Development of Early Mathematics Curriculum-Based Measurement

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

A Preliminary Investigation into the Identification and Development of Early Mathematics Curriculum-Based Measurement

Article excerpt

Abstract. Recent studies indicate that students in the United States are not achieving sufficient mathematics skills to meet the demands required of them within and outside of school. Among the keys to preventing mathematics difficulties are to identify and intervene with those students who may be most at-risk for later failure, monitoring their progress as frequently as possible. Unfortunately, current mathematics tests do not meet both these keys until mathematics instruction is well underway. This study examines the reliability, validity, and sensitivity of four experimental early mathematics measures designed for use in early identification and formative evaluation. The measures were based on the principle of number sense and were designed to assess the precursors of mathematics understanding learned before children are able to do formal mathematics. First grade students (N = 52) were tested and interscorer, alternate form, test-retest reliability, and concurrent and predictive validity with three criterion measures were examined. Results showed that the four experimental measures each had sufficient evidence of their reliability, validity, and sensitivity. The differences in the utility of each experimental measure are analyzed from an early identification and formative evaluation perspective. Implications for practice are discussed.


A primary goal of instruction for schools is the development of students with mathematics skills. Mathematics is defined as a language that is used to express relations between and among objects, events, and times. The language of mathematics employs a set of symbols and rules to express these relations (Howell, Fox, & Morehead, 1993).

Proficiency in the language of mathematics is becoming an increasingly vital skill for all individuals in today's society. More than 10 years ago, the United States Department of Labor (1990) recognized the growing emphasis placed on technology in the marketplace. The demands of a new marketplace required greater proficiency by employees in mathematics. In this new environment, many of the fields projected to have the highest rate of growth in available jobs would be open only to individuals who are proficient in mathematics (United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1997). The increased need for proficiency in mathematics is exemplified further by the hiring practices of companies. Companies are often requiring workers to have a minimum of mathematics skill, even if the job is one that is not typically associated with the need for skill in this area. Once employed, individuals who are proficient in mathematics earn 38% more than individuals who are not proficient in mathematics (Riley, 1997).

Given the pressing need for mathematics proficiency, an examination of the current state of mathematics performance in the United States is warranted. Recent national studies indicated that the current performance of United States students may be such that students will not have the necessary skills to meet the changing demands of the United States workplace. The 1996 National Assessment of Educational Performance (Reese, Miller, Mazzeo, & Dossey, 1997) results classified only 21% of fourth-grade students as at or above proficiency in mathematics performance. The low level of students classified as having proficient skills stands in sharp contrast to the classification of 36% of fourth-grade students as below basic in mathematics performance. The pattern of large numbers of students scoring below the basic level and few students scoring at or above proficient level is also found in Grades 8 and 12.

Assessment Solutions to Mathematics Problems

The demand for students skilled in mathematics coupled with current low levels of achievement suggest a need to examine ways to increase achievement. A number of critical variables have been identified that are related to general increases in student achievement (Brophy & Good, 1986). …

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