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From: Marie Cora (
Date: Wed Apr 13 2005 - 14:11:00 EDT

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From: "Marie Cora" <>
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Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1055] RE: FW: ARCS questions
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Hi Ros and everyone,

This is a very thorough assessment!  I wonder if other folks who were
involved in the NCSALL study (as were Howard and RI) have questions or
can add comments about their experience with ARCS?

And to second Ros's question to you all:  How do you use assessments in
your teaching?  What does your reading program (curriculum and
assessment/s) look like?

marie cora
Moderator, NIFL Assessment Discussion List, and Coordinator/Developer 
LINCS Assessment Special Collection at

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Rosalind Davidson
Sent: Wednesday, April 13, 2005 8:29 AM
To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1050] FW: ARCS questions

Yes, I think everyone should have a reading sub-skills assessment at 
intake. At the least, a profile made up of the five reading components
on the ARCS website should be determined at intake for all.  If you look
the webpage -

you will see that just having scores on a silent reading comprehension
may put learners in the same classroom who have similar silent reading 
comprehension scores but very different instructional needs.  Now, that
have to be the case anyway if literacy organizations cannot arrange for 
flexible classes, but in that case, teachers will see up front the 
individual needs of a diverse group for whom she will have to plan 
In each case, assessment would serve its true purpose: to aid

There will be learners who need more than just this initial assessment.
they test very low on word recognition, a teacher would want to see what

elements of word reading are causing difficulty by giving the learners a

word analysis test such as the one on our website: Sylvia Greene's
Word Analysis Inventory --it's free and takes about 10-15 minutes to 
Then the reader would practice those constructions that he has not
There are other assessments or observations a teacher can call upon to
point difficulties with other sub-skills.

Next issue: Do we set benchmarks for fluency and silent reading 
Oral reading rate is one part of fluency. A proficient adult reader can
along reading accurately at 200 or more words a minute.  Rate is tied to

reading accuracy so that if someone's highest level of accurate reading
on a 6th grade equivalent passage, they should read at about 135 words
The other part of fluency is reading smoothly with expression and 
intonation as if speaking.  There are some measures to assess how
a reader speaks a passage, but they are not necessary.  Timing a reading

(see the website on how to do it) and listening is sufficient.
How high a level?  Reading orally - accurately and smoothly - needs to
practiced at whatever level a learner is currently on. Often, too little

oral reading goes on in classrooms.  Fluent reading is descriptive of
oral, not silent, reading.

Rate, as words per minute, and comprehension are measures of silent
We head for high school, or GED, proficiency in silent reading 

Assessment and instruction follow each other in a continuous cycle until
goal is reached.

S'long all.  Wite all of you out there- How do you use assessments in


--On Tuesday, April 12, 2005 11:35 AM -0400 Marie Cora 
<> wrote:

> Hi again,
> Here is what I just posted to the list.
> marie
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Marie Cora []
> Sent: Tuesday, April 12, 2005 11:34 AM
> To: ''; 'Multiple recipients of list'
> Subject: RE: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1047] ARCS questions
> Hi everyone,
> Howard, I am intrigued about a comment you made:
> " My reflection now is whether
> to require creating a profile for every learner, or whether to target
> learners who are having more difficulty learning in the given-class
> environment."
> Can you and Ros tell us a bit more about that?  Why would you not
> a profile for each learner?  Why do you feel you need to focus on
> the whole or a target group?  (why not both?)  Is there a time factor
> involved?
> Ros, can you tell us how you have defined the goal:  achieve fluent
> reading and silent comprehension?  Is that done via the various
> assessments used, or is there a different way that that is defined
> within ARCS?
> Thanks!
> marie
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [] On
> Behalf Of Howard Dooley
> Sent: Tuesday, April 12, 2005 9:59 AM
> To: Multiple recipients of list
> Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1047] RE: Reply from Rosalind
> Rosalind --
> Thank you for your comments.  I will share them with our instructors
> our meeting next week.  I am sold on moving in this direction for our
> ABE Reading and Intermediate ESOL classes.  My reflection now is
> to require creating a profile for every learner, or whether to target
> learners who are having more difficulty learning in the given-class
> environment.
> RIRAL currently uses the CASAS for placement and initial diagnostics.
> Until this past year, individual instructors would follow up in-class
> with a skills-based diagnostic.  For this year, instructors met in
> groups to determine guidelines for this follow-up diagnostic (as I
> it).  For Reading, we use reading passages with a variety of
> multiple-choice and short answer.  As you note, at best this assesses
> silent comprehension.
> Instructors are looking for information that will enable learners to
> advance as quickly as possible to their goals -- which generally
> a next step, which we at RIRAL are, well, a bridge to: for example, to
> post-secondary ed, to a training program, to improved or more secure
> employment.  So, we are targetting instruction, and building as solid
> and as broad a base in reading as we can, before the learners need
> (often psychologically) to move on.
> The CASAS identifies priority competencies for learners to advance,
> not skills or standards.  Yet.  I am in contact with CASAS about their
> on-going efforts to identify and support standards and skills.  This
> skills or standards information piece is something both instructors
> learners want.  I think the ARCS provides a realistic, do-able
> for gathering this information in a way that is understandable for the
> instructor and the learner.
> We have two sources for standards under consideration.  RI recently
> a team from EFF come to talk about their Reading standard.  Much of
> work reflected and had the same base as the ARCS.  It was easy to see
> how developing a reading profile, as you describe, could support the
> Teaching/Learning cycle.  I expect our instructors to have a similar
> workshop with a CASAS trainer this summer.  I can see how broadening
> reading instruction to include the elements in the ARCS would result
> significant improvements on the CASAS.
> Howard, Project RIRAL

Rosalind Davidson
Research Associate/Lecturer on Education
National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy
Harvard University Graduate School of Education
Nichols House - Appian Way
Cambridge, MA 02138
tel:(617) 496-8952
fax: (617) 495-4811

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