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J Learn Disabil. 2013 Sep-Oct;46(5):428-43. doi: 10.1177/0022219411436214. Epub 2012 Mar 5.

Prediction and stability of mathematics skill and difficulty.

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  • 1University of Houston, Houston, TX 77004, USA. Rmartin29@gmail.com


The present study evaluated the stability of math learning difficulties over a 2-year period and investigated several factors that might influence this stability (categorical vs. continuous change, liberal vs. conservative cut point, broad vs. specific math assessment); the prediction of math performance over time and by performance level was also evaluated. Participants were 144 students initially identified as having a math difficulty (MD) or no learning difficulty according to low achievement criteria in the spring of Grade 3 or Grade 4. Students were reassessed 2 years later. For both measure types, a similar proportion of students changed whether assessed categorically or continuously. However, categorical change was heavily dependent on distance from the cut point and so more common for MD, who started closer to the cut point; reliable change index change was more similar across groups. There were few differences with regard to severity level of MD on continuous metrics or in terms of prediction. Final math performance on a broad computation measure was predicted by behavioral inattention and working memory while considering initial performance; for a specific fluency measure, working memory was not uniquely related, and behavioral inattention more variably related to final performance, again while considering initial performance.


math difficulty; reliable change; stability

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