[Numeracy 301] TABE Diagnostics for Math -use of Calculators?

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Kristin Hott jkohott at juno.com
Mon Apr 12 13:31:56 EDT 2010


>> Also, does everyone use the TABE? Our job is to raise our students

>> 2 grade

>> levels on the TABE, so I struggle with which skills to prioritize.

>> This is

>> especially difficult to answer because of the "Applied

>> Mathematics" section.


>> Andrew J. Isom

Andrew and all,

I have been using the survey version of the TABE (7/8 & now 9/10) for
about 8 years. I was told early on not to allow calculator use on
the Applied Mathematics test, and because at that time I had not
received any formal training with the assessments, took this as the
rule. I suppose I also felt that it would somehow mask my students
problems with calculation in context and artificially inflate
scores... thus, I didn't deviate from that "rule". I have been
certified and recertified for TABE assessment, and only recently
learned of the recommendations for calculator use!

I was knocked over to learn that calculator use on the Applied
Mathematics portion of the tests was allowed (as designated by the
test publishers, not my program supervisor). My head was totally in
the sand, of which I am embarrassed and regretful.

I immediately retested a few students I have had for a significant
period of time, whose test scores on App. Math have not changed much
in that period. What I discovered was important, I believe. One
student's score jumped 3 G.E. levels! This confirmed for me, who
knows him well, that his errors on the Applied Math section were
significantly tied to his calculation skills, and not as much with
his reading skills. (He had not taken the D10 version in a year, so
I don't feel the jump was due to repetition). ** I understand that
calculator use is only advisable if you have also given Math
Computation, on which a calculator would rarely, if ever, be advisable.

I realize that in allowing the calculator use on the "post" test,
while I had not offered it on the "pre" test may have skewed things
somewhat, but the discussion that came out of us both reviewing his
results was one of the most revealing and productive we have had this
year. This student has been with me "on and off" for 3 years. It
has greatly increased his confidence in using the calculator more on
the GED Mathematics test, something I know he has not fully
ultilizing. It also helped us separate the reading comprehension
issues from the calculation issues somewhat. The fact that he had
read, set up, and solved the problem correctly, but not accurately
(dividing errors, multiplication mistakes, etc) focused our
conversation on how the calculator might assist him.

Unfortunately, I have no training to diagnose dyscalcula, and
wouldn't try to, but I realize that many of our students struggle
with basic calculation skills (as has been discussed here), and this
was a wonderful way to magnify that realization for my student (and
for me).

Kristin Hott
Richmond, VA
GED/ABE Instructor - Adult ED
Richmond Public Schools
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