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Though proficiency with computation is highly emphasized in national mathematics standards, students with mathematics difficulty (MD) continue to struggle with computation. To learn more about the differences in computation error patterns between typically achieving students and students with MD, the authors assessed 478 third-grade students on a measure of mathematics computation. Results indicated that using the wrong operation was the most common identifiable error for all students. Students with MD had similar accuracy rates for item categories (e.g., addition items) compared to typically achieving students, but students with MD consistently had more variability in incorrect item responses. This study has implications for efficacious computation instruction for students in the elementary grades.


Nelson, G., & Powell, S. R. (2018). Computation error analysis: Students with mathematics difficulty compared to typically achieving students. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 43, 144–156. doi:10.1177/1534508417745627

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U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences


Mathematics Instruction

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Journal Article/Book Chapter


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