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Timed Arithmetic Computation Test

The TACT is a single sheet "paper and pencil" screening test of primary arithmetic procedural skills, suitable for grade levels 3 to 11 and adult. It can be used individually, or as a group test, and is completed without use of a calculator. It is not a "speeded" test as such, but is usually completed within five minutes, and is standardised on that basis. It is a discretionary option to allow the child or adult more time if needed/requested, depending on your purpose. The test may be useful for teachers, psychologists or others without access to a published standardised skills test. Such instruments include the WIAT, WIDE RANGE ACHIEVEMENT TEST, or scales embedded within psycho educational batteries such as the BAS 3 or DAS 3.

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PDF icon TACT158.92 KB
PDF icon TACT Manual95.14 KB

The present standardisation is based only a single school sample, with age based norms for full years only from age 8 to 16 years. The children were from high SES families, and the private R-12 school had a strong curriculum focus on explicit numeracy teaching. Sample size in each age level varied from 11 to 67 (mean of 43). The current standardisation only provides mean scores and standard deviation variability within each year level. No systematic analysis of item difficulty scaling was warranted, although item content sequencing is consistent with that in other major commercial tests. The school’s identity remains confidential by legal agreement. Other schools and organisations are welcome to use the TACT as a group test, to develop their own local norms as required, and compare with the present standardisation as needed.

The test may be used diagnostically by identifying individual item errors as a guide to which procedural skills are still not understood, at an individual or group level. TACT also enables age based screening of proficiency that may be suitable for use in diagnosis of learning difficulties, but it does not yield percentiles or standardised scores. A validated commercial test with broader standardisation would be necessary for that purpose, although concurrent validity would be comparable. The TACT could also be administered with use of calculators permitted, to establish children’s functional proficiency in arithmetic concepts. Analysis of errors in the two forms (with/without calculator) may be diagnostically revealing of an individual child’s poor grasp of underlying procedural skills, or broader patterns of misunderstanding evident in group/class data.

Note that incremental performance is linear from age 8 to 13, and "peaks ‘‘ at 13 years, corresponding to the first year of secondary school. It then declines incrementally, by a small margin, from mean of 14.5 to 13.2 across the secondary years, due primarily to the increasing reliance on electronic calculator devices. This developmental pattern parallels that found with speeded mental arithmetic skills in the TRMA. The decline is even more marked over time in many adults, who similarly become more dependent on a calculator, and do not practice or retain their earlier proficiency level. This early decline over time appears to be unique to  basic numeracy skills compared with other literacy or cognitive processing skills. The latter broadly improve incrementally with schooling, and do not plateau or decline till much later, depending on vocational or recreational usage, or cognitive capacity. It is thus difficult to generate valid, generalizable norms for wider usage. The origins of this reversal reflect current teaching/learning practices, not neurological changes, as discussed in the TRMA manual.

© 2019 Gary Childs