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How Does ADAM Adapt and Determine Its Start Points?
 
First, ADAM assesses students across the five major mathematics strands separately. It covers foundational math which has an instructional range of grades K to 7. When it is assessing students in Numbers & Operations, it uses results from earlier sub-tests to determine start points for subsequent sub-tests within the same strand.

With this said, students are queued up at their grade levels by default. So a 4th grade student will be queued up at a 4th grade level. The queue can be adjusted to override a student’s default grade. When this is done, the student will be assessed within that strand as if he or she were at the queued grade level. For instance, if a 5th grade student is queued at the 3rd grade level in the Geometry strand, he or she will begin with 3rd grade items, and ADAM will make decisions as if this student were a 3rd grade student. Keep this in mind as you read on.

Start points:

Students begin with the first sub-test of a strand at their queued grade level. If their queued grade level is above the highest level item in this first sub-test, they are given the highest construct (sets of test items) within that sub-test.

Subsequent sub-tests within a strand:

Students start at their grade level in subsequent sub-tests or at their lowest sub-test level of mastery. This means that if a student demonstrates low abilities in Data Analysis, as he or she progresses through this strand, ADAM will lower the grade-level start point in subsequent sub-tests. This reduces frustration. Of course, students can still move up by achieving mastery within any sub-test.

Skipping of sub-tests within a strand:

While being assessed, students are given all sub-tests that are at their grade level or at the highest level of mastery they have achieved in earlier sub-tests. For example, a 1st grade student will take all sub-tests within a strand that has 1st grade constructs in it. So an average-achieving 1st grader would not be given “Exponents” within the Numbers & Operations strand, because it is a sub-test whose lowest constructs are at the 7th grade level. Now, if this same 1st grader were very advanced and achieved mastery of “Positive and Negative Integers” at the 7th grade level, because this sub-test is before “Exponents,” this student would be given the lowest level of “Exponents,” which is at the 7th grade level. In another example, if a 6th grade student is queued up at the 2nd grade level, he or she will start every sub-test within that strand at the 2nd grade level unless he or she has scored below that level in prior sub-tests. Furthermore, sub-tests whose lowest levels are 3rd grade or higher will be skipped until the student achieves mastery within any sub-test at the 3rd grade level or higher. Therefore, only queue students up at lower grades if you are willing to have them potentially skip sub-tests that start at grade levels between the queued level and their actual grade level.

When do you recommend queuing up students at grade levels below their current grade?*

For special-needs students whose instructional level you are confident is many years below their current level, this makes sense. For students who are in Title I or some other intervention, again, if you feel confident that they are behind in most areas of math, queuing them one or two years below their grade level is acceptable. This also will limit their exposure to concepts which, while at grade level, may be very difficult or frustrating for them.

*Note: We do not recommend queuing up students more than two grades below their grade level. Doing so risks forcing them to start every sub-test at too low a level and having to work their way back up each sub-test, which can significantly increase the total test-time.

When do you recommend NOT queuing up a below grade-level student below his or her grade level?

If you want to have students tested in all sub-tests that start at or below their grade level, then do not queue these students up at a lower level. Even if a student is below grade in ability, ADAM K-7 will adapt to his or her skill level right away. Plus, each strand tests easier sub-tests first before moving on to more difficult ones.

When students take subsequent administrations of ADAM, will there be any changes to the adaptive logic or start points?

Only the start points will change. The basic adaptive logic of students moving upward or downward based on their performance within any given construct remains the same. However, when students take ADAM for a second time, their high scores within each sub-test will be used to adjust upward starting points within each sub-test. This means that follow-up administrations of ADAM can be significantly shorter depending on the abilities of the student.
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Below Expectation I find this confusing and there is not much information on the website about whether to leave the ADAM assessment at default grade level or to adjust it. I have a 6th grader who in struggling with some maths sub-topics, such as fractions, and has some "maths anxiety," so am wondering whether to adjust to 4th grade starting level for the assessment, but it is not clear if this would be a good idea or a bad idea from the above information.

LGL Response:  ADAM is adaptive so you really don't have to adjust it.  It will automatically adjust to any student who may have a few gaps in fractions or other areas of mathematics.  If you suspect that the student has gaps in 50% or more areas of his or her math skills then you could reduce the start point by a grade or two.  But the start adjustment point was really designed for cases where students have very large gaps in skills.  i.e. an 8th grader who is operating at a 3rd grade math level.
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