kitchen table math, the sequel: Today's Question

Friday, May 9, 2008

Today's Question

NCLB is vague in its requirements with respect to measuring reading ability. NCLB is concerned with "proficiency in ... reading or language arts." That is the extent of the guidance given to us.

We know that reading is a complex skill comprising various subskills and content knowledge. But, what does it mean to be a proficient reader? What standardized test or battery of tests exist that accurately measure the "reading" ability of children and whether they are proficient?

Further, under NCLB it is the educators whose performance is being measured, even though the students are the ones taking the test. So the testing instrument must not allow educator subjectivity and must not be capable of being gamed by the educator. For example, Elizabeth's example in the post below describes a test that can be gamed by an educators since students can be taught to memorize the words appearing on the test and, thus, the test is not a true reflection of reading ability.

So, pretend you are a new superintendent of a school district who wants to accurately determine the reading ability of the children attending the schools in your district and how well they are being taught. So, for example, you want to know that your third graders are reading at a third grade level and will be capable of reading at a fourth grade level next year. You get to pick the standardized test(s) to be used. You will have non-reading-specialists monitoring the administration of the test(s). The monitors can identify outright cheating by teachers and/or students but nothing more subtle than that, i.e, they are incapable of making substantive determinations related to reading of any kind Otherwise, the administration of the tests is out of your control. Only the results of the test(s) will be reported to you.

What assessments do you select and why?

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