Modifying the English on mathematics test items doesn’t change the math knowledge assessed, a federally financed study on math-testing accommodations concludes.
Conducted by the Regional Educational Laboratory West in San Francisco and released last month by the federal Institute of Education Sciences, the study compares the performance of three groups of 7th and 8th graders on two sets of 25 math-test items—one set with modified English and one that had not been altered. The three student groups studied were English-language learners, students who had tested as proficient on English/language arts tests, and students who had not tested as proficient on such tests. Students were randomly assigned the sets of test items, with about half of them receiving one set and the other half receiving the other.
Researchers found the positive effect of the linguistic modification on students math performance was the largest for English-language learners. A smaller, positive effect was found for students who weren’t proficient on language arts tests. There was virtually no effect for those who were proficient.
A version of this article appeared in the July 14, 2010 edition of Education Week as Testing Accommodations for ELLs