>children who "struggle more with the > time required to record the answer rather than the time required to > perform the computation"
The first student who comes to mind, and he is an extreme case, is my secretary's son. In the early weeks of his 4th grade class experience, the teacher had a daily activity where students were to write the answers to a page of arithmetic computations in a fixed time. It was a race; speedy response was the goal. Jeff knew his math facts quite well, but his penmanship was terrible and he never finished in time. He was failing his math until his mother intervened. The teacher did not know, and Jeff was not going to tell her, that he suffers from a benign tremor problem that substantially impairs fine motor skills. After that, the teacher tested Jeff orally or allowed more time for him to complete his page of problems. His problem was not one that was even related to his ability to respond to the mathematical task. It just took a longer time to record the answers.
Of course, every good teacher makes accomdations for the kind of problem Jeff has. It's certainly a special needs situation. But in the elementary grades particularly, as students are just developing skill with writing and with fine motor tasks like coding a bubble sheet for a standardized test form, some are much faster than others. A timed test puts those students at a disadvantage and does not measure their mathematics skill.
Of course, I do expect students to develop considerable facility with mathematical facts and computations. But a test or classroom activity that is timed MAY only measure speed of motor skill rather than speed of mathematical skill.
Steve Cottrell Mathematics Supervisor K-12 Davis School District P.O. Box 588 Farmington, UT 84025-0588