Math calculations describe one’s ability to count, group objects, and compute a wide range of mathematical facts and operations. 

Understanding numbers, basic facts, and operations is a skill that begins to develop in children as young as 1 year old. As children grow, their math calculation ability develops to be more complex and robust.

What difficulties are seen when students experience issues with math calculations?

  • Identification – accurately identifying individual numbers or rapid number identification
  • Delays – early delays in counting objects or object sets, delays in response time to simple counting or computations, delayed number associations, or delayed reading development 
  • Errors – making careless errors on computations or processes 
  • Repetition – requires excessive repetition of math facts for learning
  • Retention – difficulty retaining instructions or strategies for mathematical problem solving 
  • Strategy – uses immature strategies for computation (e.g., finger counting, hash marks)

How is a student’s math calculation measured? 

There are multiple standardized and non-standardized tests and subtests to measure different aspects of a student’s math calculation ability. When the assessor is providing a written report to parents regarding their performance on math calculation assessments, it will be helpful to include specific information about how the student solves math calculations. 

Indicate whether or not the student: 

  • used their fingers to count
  • had math facts and order of operations memorized
  • made careless errors
  • seemed to understand directions given the first time
  • had difficulty with response time on simple computations
  • had difficulty reading the directions or math equation

What strategies can school psychologists consult school teams on, in supporting students with math calculations difficulties?

  • Practice with flashcards 
  • Use of manipulatives to  solve problems
  • Use of a timer (e.g., see how many flash cards can be correctly answered in one minute
  • Generalize any new skills to “real world” applications (e.g., shopping, making change, cooking, recognition of geometric shapes in their environment)
  • Use of a calculator to check work 
  • Review prerequisite skills before introducing new concepts
  • Use of a number line
  • Asking open-ended questions and encouraging conversations about math
  • Use of the “thinking aloud” strategy when solving math problems
  • Use of Peer groups (homogeneous or heterogeneous) to support learning

If you’d like more information on understanding math calculations or support with integrating math calculations information with your school assessment results, check out our Math Calculations document by clicking the button below.


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National Association of School Psychologists. (2020). Classwide Math Intervention Protocol.

NCS Pearson. (2020). Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (4th ed.).

PAR Inc. (2021). Feifer Assessment of Mathematics.
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