Johnson, E., & Monroe, B. (2004). Simplified language as an accommodation on math tests . Assessment for Effective Intervention , 29 (3), 35–45.

Journal Article

Johnson, E., & Monroe, B. (2004). Simplified language as an accommodation on math tests. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 29(3), 35–45.


Math; Middle school; No disability; Simplified language; U.S. context




Simplified language was examined. Guidelines for simplifying language included: using high-frequency words, and using the active voice, and shortening the text. Researchers built two forms of the mathematics test: one had even-numbered items written in simplified language, and the other had odd-numbered items written in simplified language.


Students in grade 7 from 33 classrooms in 18 schools across 13 school districts in the state of Washington (U.S.) participated (N=1,232). Of the 1,232 students, 1,060 were in general education, 138 were in special education, and 34 were English language learners (ELLs).

Dependent Variable

The mathematics test was constructed with released items from the Washington state assessment. There were 16 multiple-choice items, and 4 short-answer constructed-response items.


Students in general education scored significantly higher on all items (both test versions) than students in special education and than ELLs. Students in special education performed better on the simplified language items than the original items. Both general education students and ELLs scored better on the unaccommodated items. Item difficulty analyses yielded some distinctions. There were no significant differences in item difficulty for students in general education. For ELLs, 6 items were easier with simplified language; for students in special education, 13 items were easier with simplified language. Limitations of the study were reported, and ideas for future research were suggested.