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Validation and diagnostic accuracy of early numeracy skill indicators

Scott A Methe, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The Early Numeracy Skill Indicators (ENSIs) are a set of subtests designed to sample the early mathematical behaviors of kindergarten students. Early intervention and prevention-oriented practices in assessment are timely and fundamental components important to educators and school psychologists alike, and are aimed at identifying at-risk students who will likely benefit from strategic and intensive instructional support. These practices are well developed in the academic area of early literacy and used to inform education at numerous levels. Similar large scale educational achievement problems have been noted by mathematical scholars and educators, which have intracultural and cross national implications. Despite these caveats, a paucity of early assessment practices necessary to a prevention-oriented practice are currently available to schools interested in early mathematics assessment to drive instruction. Given the success of early literacy assessment techniques developed from a paradigm of curriculum-based assessment (CBA), the primary purpose of the current research is to develop the ENSIs as dynamic measures of critical early mathematical skills. Longitudinal correlational analysis was the primary research design, conducted over a 26-week period. As such, the measures were examined in terms of internal consistency and reliability across time. Concurrent and predictive validation of the ENSIs with the Test of Early Mathematics Ability (TEMA-3) and teacher ratings of curricular mastery was undertaken. In addition to hypotheses regarding the reliability and validity of these measures, analyses of diagnostic accuracy was completed using Relative Operating Characteristic (ROC) techniques popular in multiple scientific fields dealing with high-stakes decision making. Inclusive participants over the course of the study were 64 kindergarten children from three elementary schools in a moderate sized post-industrial northwestern Massachusetts city. Results support the conclusion that selected subtests of the ENSIs are reliable, valid, and diagnostically accurate, demonstrating the potential for utility in the school community and contributing to further scientific research. Implications for future practice regard the use of these measures to prevent later mathematics failure and enhance student competency. Further implications and limitations are discussed.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Psychological tests|Educational evaluation|Mathematics education

Recommended Citation

Methe, Scott A, "Validation and diagnostic accuracy of early numeracy skill indicators" (2005). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3179904.