Use this creative diagnostic as a formal or informal assessment! It can visually demonstrate your students' level of math proficiency by measuring their command of its language!
I was named Math Department Head at my charter high school during Summer 2009. This new role made me directly responsible for catalyzing improvement in student achievement, and provided me with the opportunity to begin to formally research, evaluate, and implement language-based approaches to teaching mathematics.
To qualify and quantify the current level of language proficiency, I designed this 25-word diagnostic language test of math terms commonly used from kindergarten to eighth grade. The test was first given in July 2009 to 25 incoming 9th-grade students during our week-long Summer Orientation Camp.
Early statistical results of the test indicated a remarkably low level of math language proficiency.
Less than 10% of the students tested were able to define terms like "square", "volume", "sum", and "circumference".
None of the students were able to define terms like "addition", "subtraction", "multiplication, "division", "area", "line", "circle", "diameter", "principal", and "interest".
One frustrated student put it best as she scribbled the following message at the top of her test: "Some words I could not define because I cannot explain, but I know how to do them".
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