backVolume 31, Issue 4 (2002)

# What Is Measured in Mathematics Tests? Construct Validity of Curriculum-Based Measurement in Writing

Robin Schul Thurber

pp. 498—513

Abstract. Mathematics assessment is often characterized in the literature as being composed of two broad components: Computation and Applications. Many assessment tools are available to evaluate student skill in these areas of mathematics.However, not all math tests can be used in formative evaluation to inform instruction and improve student achievement. Mathematics curriculum-based measurement(M-CBM) is one tool that has been developed for formative evaluation in mathematics. However, there is considerably less technical adequacy information on M-CBM than CBM reading. Of particular interest is the construct that M-CBM measures, computation or general mathematics achievement. This study utilized confirmatory factor analysis procedures to determine what constructs M-CBM actually measures in the context of a range of other mathematics measures. Other issues examined in this study included math assessment in general and the role of reading in math assessment. Participants were 207 fourth-grade students who were tested with math computation, math applications, and reading tests. Three theoretical models of mathematics were tested. Results indicated that a two-factor model of mathematics where Computation and Applications were distinct although related constructs, M-CBM was a measure of Computation, and reading skill was highly correlated with both math factors best fit the data. Secondary findings included the important role that reading skills play in general mathematics assessment.

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