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Knowledge From the Field

Does Diagnostic Math Testing Improve Student Learning?

Published: October 2011

Publisher(s): Public Policy Institute of California

Author(s): Betts, Julian R.; Youjin Hahn; Andrew C. Zau

Funder(s): Donald Bren Foundation

View Report (26 pages; 329KB; PDF)
Technical Appendix

Does Diagnostic Math Testing Improve Student Learning?

Area of Focus: STEM


The Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project (MDTP) offers course-specific assessments that provide timely, detailed feedback on student strengths and weaknesses in math. The report examines how voluntary and mandated use of the MDTP affected student achievement and offers policy implications based on the findings.

Key Findings and/or Recommendations

+Mandatory MDTP testing boosted scores on the California Standards Test enough to move students up several percentile points.

+When students were given an MDTP test two years in a row, the benefits that accrued the year following the first test strengthened in the second year.

=When students were given an MDTP test in one year but not the next, the benefits of MDTP testing decayed over time.

=In contrast with district-mandated testing, the voluntary use of MDTP tests by teachers had no detectable relation with studentsí gain in math achievement during the year.

Focus: San Diego Unified School District

Subjects/Keywords: Assessment; Diagnostic Testing; Mandatory Testing; Math; Mathematics

+ Successful strategy
= Observation
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