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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
Type: Measurement Award Number: R324A090039

Purpose: The aim of this project was to develop a dynamic assessment for early mathematics. 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. To address this, the research team aimed to develop a dynamic assessment for early mathematics that assesses a student's capacity to learn rather than what the student presently knows. They also expected to determine its usefulness for forecasting students' math performance in first grade.

Project Activities: The researchers planned to develop the Dynamic Assessment (DA) screening tool, first in English and then a parallel version in Spanish, followed by two studies. In the first study, they would examine the contribution of the English DA, over and beyond static screening, for predicting students' mathematics outcomes in first grade. In the second study, the researchers planned to use the same prediction models with a sample of English language learners to contrast the contribution of the English DA and the Spanish DA for predicting students' mathematics outcomes in first grade.

Structured Abstract


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

Sample: 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. The research team will contrast four prediction models in this study to determine which condition most effectively predicts math difficulties at the end of first grade: (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 DA.

Control Condition: Due to the nature of this study, 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.

Products and Publications

ERIC Citations: Find available citations in ERIC for this award here.

Select Publications:

Journal articles

Seethaler, P.M., & Fuchs, L.S. (2011). Using curriculum-based measurement to monitor kindergarteners' mathematics development. Assessment for Effective Instruction, 36(4), 219–229.

Seethaler, P.M., Fuchs, L.S., Fuchs, D., & 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., & 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.