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Assessment in Reading Issues #3: “What’s in it for me?"

 by hilton on 04 Jun 2012 |
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"All that time spent testing - does it really benefit my reading programme?”

Informal Prose Inventories are diagnostic assessment tools for early and fluent readers. As a classroom teacher you gain a huge amount of valuable information about the reading strategies your reader is using and have real direction for your teaching.

The first oral reading of the passage allows you to listen in on the decoding strategies your reader is using. As the text difficulty increase, the cracks start to appear and the reader will start to rely more heavily on one of the sources of information – usually visual cues or meaning cues - rather than integrating all three (visual, meaning and syntax). When this cross-checking starts to break down and the accuracy drops below 97% you have the correct instructional level of difficulty to work at and you know which decoding strategies you have to strengthen.
 
For the fluent decoder (those students who can operate at above 97% accuracy for most text), the attention is now transferred to whether they are able to construct meaning. The IPI requires them to read the text again silently and then retell (without the text in front of them). If they are unable to reproduce 50% or more of the listed detail from the passage and answer 75% of the question prompts, this indicates that this level of text is an appropriate level of difficulty to work on ‘constructing meaning’ strategies.
 
So very quickly you have identified some very specific learning needs and the level of text your reader should be working on (Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development) in an instructional setting – your guided reading group. You have a benchmark for your student which allows you to objectively measure progress and achievement over time.
 
Here is an example:
Sarah is 9.1 years old in March and is tested on an IPI text at a Reading age of 10-11
Her accuracy score is 98.4%, her Retelling is 45% (pass is 50%) and her answers to question prompts is 70% (pass is 75%)
This suggests that this is the correct level for reading instruction with the focus on ‘constructing meaning’ strategies.
 
After 6 months of instruction she is re-tested at this same level.
Her accuracy score is 98.8% (no significant difference), her retelling is 68% and her answers to question prompts is 83%. She has now passed all the criteria at this level and will be extended by moving on to more complex text (RA 11-12yr).
 
Coming next -  Issue #4: “Schoolwide benefits – Identifying barriers to learning across the school.”

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