Evaluating the effectiveness of math placement tests





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ESL students in our school with math backgrounds inadequate for success in high school level math courses have created the need for math classes at a more basic level than high school math and the need for a test to place students in the appropriate math classes for optimal learning and understanding. This study evaluated two different tests as possible math placements tests. The two tests evaluated were 1) the Roesner test, a paper and pencil test written by the Math and ESL departments 2) the NWEA test, a computerized, adaptive assessment test not designed specifically for ESL students. Both tests were given to ESL students in the fall and in the spring of the 2003-2004 school year. Placement was evaluated based on class success and teacher input. The effect of language was also evaluated by comparing Level of ESL English with test results. Results showed that the NWEA test placed students most accurately, and it resulted in better placement of students regardless of Level of ESL English. In addition, this test has the advantage that it is easy to administer, test data is stored on a database, and human error is eliminated in correcting. The NWEA test has the final advantage that is tests students at high levels of math as well as beginning math. As a result of this study, the NWEA test will be used to place all incoming ESL students in math classes at our school.

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