Study: Math Diagnostic Increases Test Scores

The California Academic Partnership Program (CAPP) highlighted a new report released by the Public Policy Institute of California that measures the effectiveness of the Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project (MDTP) as a tool to improve student learning. The MDTP is used throughout the state in California GEAR UP Schools.

“The MDTP is a prime example of inter-segmental work of K-12, community college, UC and CSU faculty in developing tools for secondary classroom teachers to help improve student learning,” said from Andrea Ball, Statewide Director of the California Academic Partnership Program (CAPP). “MDTP’s diagnostic approach is appreciated by educators for its high quality and concordance with the common core standards. PPIC’s report is extremely timely and useful to educators in the field.”

CAPP is an inter-segmental program administered by the California State University whose work combines on-the-ground efforts to improve teaching and learning in secondary schools with research to identify effective practices and share what we learn with educators and policymakers.

MDTP is a joint statewide project of the California State University and The University of California. MDTP develops, distributes, scores, and reports the results of diagnostic tests that measure student readiness for mathematics courses ranging from Prealgebra to Calculus. Diagnosing a student’s mathematical strengths and weaknesses helps teachers focus on areas needing review to increase students’ chances of success in mathematics, better prepares students for further study in mathematics, and keeps open many career paths.

The PPIC report on MDTP was prepared by Dr. Julian Betts, chair of the department of economics at the University of California, San Diego. As part of its ongoing work to improve the quality of secondary education so that all students are prepared for successful postsecondary education, CAPP provides support to the Math Diagnostic Testing Project’s work with K-12 schools. CAPP is also supporting additional research, survey and interview work by Dr. Betts on the use of MDTP in the San Diego Unified School District.

The PPIC report and Dr. Betts’ additional CAPP-supported research delve into specific ways teachers use the diagnostic information from MDTP results to adjust their instruction to meet students’ needs. CAPP’s goal in supporting this work is to identify opportunities to expand professional learning so that MDTP becomes a more valuable resource for classroom teachers, students, schools and districts.

“MDTP offers teachers timely and detailed feedback about what their students know, don’t know, and misunderstand about essential mathematics content required for success in their course,” said Bruce Arnold, the director of MDTP. “Teachers can adapt their instruction and modify learning activities based on this diagnostic data.”

CAPP supports MDTP’s services to California’s K-12 schools. CAPP’s newest grant program will incorporate the use of MDTP with collaborative learning communities of middle and high school teachers to develop common formative assessments so that teachers can immediately learn and then address students’ needs. CAPP also supports the use of MDTP materials and services by university and college outreach programs.  For more information on MDTP see

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