How to administer a read-aloud math test
May 21, 2007 5:57 PM   Subscribe

Suggestions/resources for administering a math test out loud?

My husband has to administer end-of-grade math tests tomorrow for two fourth graders.

Because the students have moderate learning disabilities, he will read the test out loud. These tests are a big deal for the school, district and parents, so he's worried about doing it right and reading the numbers (1) correctly and (2) in a way the children will understand but not (3) giving away the answer.

Google-fu fails and the district is providing no help. Here are specific questions: How to describe a fraction; how to describe a graph and/or ordered pairs; how to "talk out" an equation.

Here are links to a few sample test pages: Full list here:

The students will have a copy of the test in front of them; his reading provides supplementary help.

Any special-ed or math-teacher folks out there with suggestions or tips? We'd be grateful.
posted by Sweetie Darling to Education (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (Sorry about the bad URL formatting.)
posted by Sweetie Darling at 6:06 PM on May 21, 2007

If they are not visually handicapped, can he not just say "consult the included graph"?
posted by Rock Steady at 6:15 PM on May 21, 2007

Oh, and for something like (4x-12)/3 I would say "The quantity four ex minus three all over three." For ordered pairs, just say some thing like "The ordered pairs four three... two two... one negative three"

He may want to take some time at the beginning of the test to go over certain conventions like this with the students, if possible.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:20 PM on May 21, 2007

Make really, really clear the verbal notation used. Go over how to translate oral instructions into "math" ahead of time and give a practice test if possible. This is harder than you think; I remember students in a high school math class having trouble with this -- luckily they could read the math when it was on the board!
posted by Electrius at 6:40 PM on May 21, 2007

If you know anyone who knows sign language, ask how they would do it (using words, of course).
posted by HotPatatta at 6:44 PM on May 21, 2007

Fourth graders are not going to go too deeply into algebraic expressions.

Read fractions as one-fourth, three-fourths, or one over four, three over four, etc.

Read ordered pairs like (3, 4) as "where x equals 3 and y equals 4..."

Graphs...The H stands for Brandon's house. The S stands for Brandon's school, etc.
Trace the shape with your finger from the H to the S to the M to the L and then back home to the H.
What shape did you trace? Is it A....blah blah blah...

It is important to remember that although your husband is reading the test out loud, the children will have a copy of the test. They just have trouble translating what they see conceptually. This is, in another words, a visual processing issue.

So, once he has gone over the words that they cannot process visually, they should understand them, as they will then be able to process them using their auditory processing abilities. That's the reason for reading the test out loud. He is NOT teaching the concepts, just making sure to present the information they should already know in a way they can process. He doesn't need to provide more information than that which exists already in the equations.
posted by misha at 6:48 PM on May 21, 2007

Read ordered pairs like (3, 4) as "where x equals 3 and y equals 4..."

Might this not be giving away the answer a bit for 4th graders? Part of learning coordinate geometry is learning how to plot ordered pairs on a graph, no?
posted by Rock Steady at 7:35 PM on May 21, 2007

If you know anyone who knows sign language, ask how they would do it (using words, of course).

Just out of curiosity, why would sign be relevant here? The visual aspects are not going to be all that helpful given that he's doing this orally, and even for things like describing a graph, that's not something that can be taught overnight.

I don't mean to be Captain Buzzkill. Really. That said, why aren't these students being tested by someone with relevant experience (i.e., with these students' LDs, or at least with orally-administered tests)? I had math tests, albeit in high school and college, where I had to give my answers orally because of writing problems, and it's a tricky situation even when the proctor knows the subject well.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 8:05 PM on May 21, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, all.

spaceman_spiff, you have an excellent point, one which my husband has tried to address with school leadership. He is neither a 4th grade classroom teacher nor an LD specialist and he's really concerned about doing it right, both for the sake of the kids and because of the pressure that these damned tests put on everyone. He's not getting a lot of support from the school administrators, though.

But these suggestions should help him feel a bit more confident today. Thanks again.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 3:08 AM on May 22, 2007

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