VISITOR: I am a retired special education teacher who has worked for over 40 years with learning disabled students. I am currently working with a student who has dyslexia and dyscalculia. She is currently in 5th grade. She has modified tests in terms of size of print, number of problems and extended time limit. The last concept she worked on was fractions. The very difficult part for her was comparing fractions. She was able to do this using cross multiplication and finding a common denominator but could not master (in the short time allotted) using a number line when comparing the fractions to 1/2 and 1 or using number sense. They were not allowed to use a common denominator or cross multiplication during their test. She was very frustrated and anxious. She passed the test but is now fearful of math. The next unit is on finding the greatest common factor. She uses the list of factors method very well but also has to use prime factorization and the step method on the upcoming test.
She is the type of student that does not remember the name of the varying methods and confuses the processes of the methods when trying to come up with an answer. I do not have a problem with exposing her to each method, but is there research that I may use at her iep meeting to convince the participants that she should be allowed to use the method that works best for her in the testing situation. The New Jersey standards in 5th grade push these concepts through so quickly that she cannot master all the methods she has been exposed to. I would appreciate any information, research etc. to help support this accommodation for this very frustrated child.
Thank you for your time. I look forward to your response.
DYSCALCULIA.ORG: It would be best if you could get constructive assessments to replace paper and pencil tests. A constructive assessment or project is graded on a rubric. How well does the product demonstrate an understanding of the criteria being measured?
The product can be a Prezi presentation, an Explain Everything lesson, an e-book, a website, a traditional presentation or poster, a live performance (demonstration), a study guide, a lesson, a movie, etc. One can use traditional materials, or software, like Kidspiration, Explain Everything, Google Sites, Prezi, or MS One Note.
The student must do this for every item they are required to know on an exam. In effect, the student must richly and successfully TEACH the concept, in order to master it, and in the process, will demonstrate mastery!
The requirements do not change, only the way in which the student proves mastery. The student creates the product as homework or a combination of classwork and homework.
Clearly, the goal here, is personal independence, not dependence on accommodations, like guidance, assistance, and extra time. The student will still use tools, like multiplication charts, JIT references (ex. mathisfun.com), but these are employed during the creative process. The student has not mastered the concept until they can demonstrate their product successfully INDEPENDENTLY (without guidance, assistance). They can demonstrate how they use references, tools, and resources in the process.
The constructive assessment takes extra time for the teacher to observe, experience, and evaluate, but in the end, it is the most effective form of learning and assessment.
The LD student cannot create a product without DEEP UNDERSTANDING of the components. The components are the language (vocabulary, symbols, relationships, decoding, translation, encoding); concepts; rules (what, when, why); procedures (how and why); interpretation within context; and assessment (did I accomplish the objective? successfully? solved problem? answered question? the answer is logical?).
Constructive assessments are also called "authentic assessments."