Academic journal article The California School Psychologist

Evaluation of the Relationship between Literacy and Mathematics Skills as Assessed by Curriculum-Based Measures

Academic journal article The California School Psychologist

Evaluation of the Relationship between Literacy and Mathematics Skills as Assessed by Curriculum-Based Measures

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the extent that reading performance (as measured by curriculum-based measures [CBM] of oral reading fluency [ORF] and Maze reading comprehension), is related to math performance (as measured by CBM math computation and applied math). Additionally, this study examined which of the two reading measures was a better predictor of applied math performance. Results of multiple hierarchical regression analyses indicated that math computation was the best predictor of applied math performance, followed by the Maze task. Also, results indicated that ORF did not significantly predict applied math test scores above and beyond math computation and Maze. Thus, from these results it appears that for fourth and fifth grade students, reading comprehension as measured by the Maze plays a more important role in predicting applied math performance than oral reading fluency.

While in school, deficiencies in mathematical competence have been found to seriously limit a student's educational opportunities (Hanich, Jordan, Kaplan, & Dick, 2001). Once out of school and employed, individuals proficient in math earn approximately 38% more than those who are not (Clarke & Shinn, 2004).

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) set standards that delineate the goals for all students' math achievement (1989, 1991, 1995). These standards include five general math goals for children: to learn to value mathematics, to become confident in their ability to do mathematics, to become mathematical problem solvers, to learn to communicate mathematically, and to learn to reason mathematically (Focgcn & Deno, 2001).

Despite these lofty goals, however, the actual math performance of students in the United States falls far short of expectations. In 1996, the National Assessment of Educational Performance (NAEP) published findings regarding student math performance. Only 21% of fourth graders were found to be at or above proficiency in math, while 36% of fourth graders fell in the below basic category of math performance. This pattern is similar for eighth and twelfth graders. Eighty percent of eighth graders could not solve modestly difficult problems, while only 16% of eighth graders had mastered the content of typical eighth grade math. Also, the NAEP indicated that only 8% of eighth graders could answer math questions requiring problem-solving skills (Clarke & Shinn, 2004; Thurber, Shinn, & Smolkowski, 2002).

Math Curriculum-Based Measurement

Most research of mathematics performance has supported a two factor model of mathematical assessment, the two factors being basic math computation and math application (Thurber et al., 2002). Computation is the ability to perform math facts, whereas application requires a person to use knowledge and math skills and apply them to word problems. These two components have been found to be distinct conceptually. As evidence of these two separate constructs, validity studies indicate measures typically conceived as measuring computation were correlated more highly with other computation measures and not correlated strongly with tools traditionally conceived as measures of math applications. The reverse was also found to be true (Thurber et al., 2002). These findings highlight the degree to which these two math components are distinct measures, however, the two types of math measures are also highly related. There is a degree of dependence among the math constructs, both applied and computation, indicating that the skills in one area are necessary for success in the other (Thurber et al., 2002).

Once students have begun explicit instruction in math, it is possible to identify students at risk for math academic problems through math computation and applied problem CBM measures (Clarke & Shinn, 2004). Math CBM appears to be a strong measure of individual and developmental differences with respect to math calculations skills (Hintze et al. …

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