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NIFL-ASSESSMENT 2005: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1080] Should instruction

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From: David Rosen (
Date: Sun May 01 2005 - 12:57:20 EDT

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Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1080] Should instruction, and high-stakes assessments offer text to speech software?
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NIFL-LD, NIFL-Technology, NIFL-Assessment and AAACE-NLA Colleagues,

Today's Boston Globe's Education section 

has an article about how Massachusetts high school students with  
reading disabilities use text (or print)-to-speech [ ] software to  
help them improve their reading and writing skills, and to take  
high-stakes and other standardized tests.  Massachusetts is not the  
only state that allows this practice.

	"Teachers liken the effect to runners who train with faster athletes  
to get used to a quicker pace.  Students who used to get bogged down in  
chapter one can now read books cover to cover. It's because they can  
focus less on what the words are and more on what they mean."

	"A growing body of research indicates these reading programs help  
students make significant strides, and under special education law,  
schools are required to consider buying reading programs that might  
help students with disabilities."

I have several questions for you:

1. What is the "growing body of research" on this?  Can anyone give us  
citations?  (Are any on-line?)
2. Do your students with reading disabilities (or reading difficulties)  
use text-to-speech? What do you think of this practice?
3. Are adult education programs in your state required by law to  
consider buying reading programs like this for students with reading  
disabilities?  If not, should they be?
4. Should adult literacy education standardized tests (TABE, CASAS,  
BEST, BEST PLUS and others) be required to have this option? Should  
states be required to make it available?
5. Should reading be re-defined to include the use of text-to-speech,  
just as increasingly mathematics now includes/allows the use of a  
pocket calculator? If so, what are the implications for the field of  
adult basic literacy?

I expect there will be a lot of response to these questions, especially  
the last one. I have posted this on four e-lists because I think it  
raises issues of concern to readers on all these e-lists (and maybe  
others).  To avoid confusion, and to give everyone a chance to see the  
entire discussion, I propose that we have this discussion on one list,  
NIFL-LD.  If you are not subscribed to this e-list, you can easily and  
quickly subscribe by going to 

David J. Rosen

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