November 10, 2011

Three Critical Progress Assessments for Reading

Teachers depend on assessment tools to help them determine the reading abilities of students in their classrooms. Administrators depend on assessment tools for making decisions about literacy education in their schools. Progress assessments and progress monitoring are critical to understanding reading level placement.

Many state mandates and federal initiatives also require ongoing assessments to allocate funds for elementary reading curriculum and reading intervention programs. These education initiatives are placing the spotlight on the need for more comprehensive and accurate data from reading assessment tools.

Word Recognition, Most Common Words, and Word Segmentation tests are effective assessment tools used to determine student placement and reading progress.

1. Word Recognition (reading-grade level)

This assessment provides a fast, accurate calculation of a student’s reading-grade level. The assessment uses lists of 20 words each - words that students should be able to recognize at grade level. The content words are based on phonetic structure and were selected based on similar words used in the San Diego Quick Assessment, Border Test of Reading-Spelling Patterns, Rapid Test, Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT), and the Slosson Oral Reading Test (SORT).

2. Most Common Words 

The Most Common Words Assessment measures a student’s ability to rapidly recognize sight words. The list is derived from the many common words in English that do not conform to rules of phonetic decoding—words like said, would, was, were, etc.

3. Word Segmentation

A typical assessment is divided into two portions of 40 words each. The first 40 words test for recognition of individual phonemes. The second 40 continue that process and also record mispronunciation based on the phonetic pattern of the word, such as Silent E or adjacent vowel patterns. A report will be generated to show detailed information on those phonemes as well as the decoding patterns most-often misread.

Note: It is a good idea to combine teacher observations with these more formal and objective assessments—the two complement each other, and give the teacher a more informed picture of each student's reading-related skills.

What reading placement assessments do you use in your school?

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