After working hard to teach math strategies, practicing facts with centers and activities, and games, and doing so on a regular basis, you’ve got to assess. I know… it’s like its own dirty word. It’s usually not a ton of fun, but there are a few different ways to assess math fact practice that I’ll share here. I welcome you to share more ways in the comments since it’s always great to have a variety! Before you start, be sure to check with your district to see what they consider to be mastering fluency. Typically the reading I have done leads me to the guideline that 20 facts per minute is considered fluency.
1.Paper and Pencil Test
Whether you’re testing by strategy, you can do the minute long paper and pencil math fact tests to see if students can quickly solve the equations and then track their progress. Some students get really stressed by this, and assessing this way isn’t a lot of fun, but my students actually often looked forward to it. I have created addition and subtraction printable quick check ups that you can use to help you assess by addend and subtrahend. I always like to keep in mind that for some students, you won’t catch the fluency this way, especially in young children. AND just because you’re measuring time, doesn’t mean they need to know that. You can definitely just give them a window of time to work and then make your own observations about time.
2. Math Program or App-
One of the math programs I used in my third grade classroom was XtraMath. Some of my first graders also used the program, however, it was important to remember that some of them had difficulty finding the numbers on the keyboard, which also impeded finding how well they truly were able to add. For some students sites like this one helped to measure and practice moving toward math fact fluency.
3. Flash Card Check Up-
I often had students complete this with a partner. We use a basic checklist for math skills and then students use the matching flashcards to assess one another, or I use flashcards to help them. Timing them in this way helps me to also notice which strategies they are still reaching for instead of having really learned the facts in a snap, and it helps me to focus future practice in a differentiated way. The downside to this approach is that it takes more time to sit 1:1 with students.
I think the most effective way to bring all of these parts together and to answer the question “is my student fluent” is through informal observations. You can see during math centers, activities, and tests how students are developing with their fluency. I like to use this basic four point rubric to kind of keep in mind how they are doing when they work. If I do some of the assessment as a quick fact warm up when they are in small group with me, these observations are much easier to manage making. I see which students are still using counting on as a strategy. I look to see which problems are taking the longest and which they are struggling with most. This really informs my instruction and helps me decide which kind of center fact practice to include in the future to help them further build fluency.
If you have any other fun ways to practice math fact mastery, please feel free to share below!