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IES Grant

Title: Dynamic Assessment to Predict First Graders' Mathematics Development
Center: NCSER Year: 2009
Principal Investigator: Fuchs, Lynn Awardee: Vanderbilt University
Program: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics      [Program Details]
Award Period: 09/01/2009 – 08/31/2013 Award Amount: $1,594,341
Goal: Measurement Award Number: R324A090039

Purpose: One major purpose of educational assessment is screening, which is the practice of predicting which students are likely to perform poorly in school. With accurate screening, students at risk of poor outcomes can be identified to receive intervention early. Most commonly, screening is accomplished using traditional static tests, where examinees respond without examiner assistance. However, static tests reveal only two student states: unaided success or failure. Children may, however, function somewhere between these states: unable to perform a task independently but able to succeed with assistance. This has implications for distinguishing among lower performing students. The research team will develop a dynamic assessment for early mathematics, that is, one that assesses a student's capacity to learn rather than what the student presently knows. They will also determine its usefulness for forecasting students' math performance in first grade.

Project Activities: The researchers will develop the Dynamic Assessment (DA) screening tool first in English and then create a parallel version in Spanish. Then, the researchers will conduct two studies. In the first study, they will examine the contribution of the English DA, over and beyond static screening, for predicting students' mathematics outcomes in first grade. The researchers will contrast four prediction models in this study: (a) a model with a brief static screener; (b) a model with a brief static screener followed by DA; (c) a model with a brief static screener followed by an extended static screener; and (d) a model with a brief static screener followed by the extended static screener and also DA. In the second study, the researchers will use the same four prediction models with a sample of ELL students to contrast the contribution of the English DA vs. the Spanish DA for predicting students' mathematics outcomes in first grade.

Products: The products of this project include two fully developed Dynamic Assessments (one in English and one in Spanish) used for predicting first graders' mathematics development. The project will also present findings in published reports and presentations.

Setting: The research takes place in 15 elementary schools in an urban school district in Tennessee.

Population: Participants include 1,000 English- and Spanish-speaking first graders across two studies. Students will be included in the study based on performance on a static math screener. Spanish-speaking students will be included based on the Home Language Survey and the Comprehensive English Language Learners Assessment.

Intervention: The intervention to be developed is a dynamic assessment, an alternative form of assessment where a student's capacity to learn is measured. This dynamic assessment will be developed in English and in Spanish and used to forecast first graders' later performance in mathematics.

Research Design and Methods: In consecutive studies, the researchers will sample 500 first grade students from 50 classrooms across 15 elementary schools and assign students to the four screening conditions. In developing the dynamic assessment instrument, the research team will contrast various screening procedures to determine which condition most effectively predicts math difficulties at the end of first grade, as determined by performance on the Early Math Diagnostic Assessment and Key Math Addition and Subtraction.

Control Condition: There is no control condition.

Key Measures: As screeners, the researchers will use the Number Sets Test, the Test of Early Mathematics Ability, and the English and Spanish dynamic assessments, which are developed as a central part of the project. Math achievement outcomes include end of first grade scores on two Early Math Diagnostic Assessment subtests (Math Reasoning and Numerical Operations) and three Key Math subtests (Numeration, Addition, and Subtraction).

Data Analytic Strategy: The researchers will use item response theory and logistic regression to analyze student response data and establish reliability and validity for the dynamic assessment instrument.


Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Seethaler, P.M., and Fuchs, L.S. (2011). Using Curriculum-Based Measurement to Monitor Kindergarteners' Mathematics Development. Assessment for Effective Instruction, 36(4): 219–229. doi:10.1177/1534508411413566 Full text

Seethaler, P.M., Fuchs, L.S., Fuchs, D., and Compton, D.L. (2015). Does the Value of Dynamic Assessment in Predicting End-of-First-Grade Mathematics Performance Differ as a Function of English Language Proficiency? Elementary School Journal, 15(4): 289–308.

Seethaler, P.M., Fuchs, L.S., Fuchs, D., and Compton, L. (2012). Predicting First Graders' Development of Calculation Versus Word-Problem Performance: The Role of Dynamic Assessment. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(1): 224–234. doi:10.1037/a0024968 Full text