Reading and Language Arts assessments

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Classroom reading assessments

Passage considerations

  • Rigor and complexity appropriate for current students
  • Context of instruction and content knowledge
  • Students have background knowledge to understand reading

Passages not in context to instruction and requiring extensive background knowledge will hinder student performance. The resulting data will not provide appropriate insight into learning. It will be especially true with English learners and students struggling with current content.

The length of passages will determine the time to complete the assessment.

If the reading load is too high, students will rush to finish the assessment. Performance suffers, along with inferences or decisions from the assessment data.

Text complexity should be balanced across the assessment.

The balance of grade level appropriate text complexity provides the best environment for gauging student achievement. If a classroom test pushes the boundary of complexity, look for indicators within the passage that help plan future instruction.

The question, ‘Was the reading too hard, or the content too difficult?’, is common in analyzing passage performance in a content area.

Appropriate number of items per passage.

The length of the passage justifies the number of items used to assess the reading. Make reading on an assessment worth the student’s time.

Too many items with a passage.

A lengthy passage supports more questions, but using too many items will over-burden the text. It also causes an overlap or queuing. Queuing occurs when one question helps a student answer another question.

Passages typically support items from different standards, but you have to be careful not to ask too much of the passage.

Appropriate vocabulary in passages and items.

The passage mix should challenge students, but not all reading has to be complex. Including only the most challenging and complex passages, will negatively impact performance for many students, especially those struggling with grade level reading.

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