[Assessment 1280] Re: Assessing reading when reading means listening totext

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Laura Chenven LChenven at 1199funds.org
Mon Mar 31 10:32:41 EDT 2008

Hi - all good ideas. There is already some data - though I can't
remember where I saw it on comprehension with fast reading. What I
remember is that reading comprehension with a program like Kurzweill
actually goes up when the reading is done "fast". Apparently the faster
reading helps the learner cut off distractors and leads to more focused
concentration and better comprehension. This may be an average response
as opposed to one that differentiates between "average" listeners and
those with different types of learning disabilities. In any case, it wo
uld be interesting to learn more about this phenomenon. Measuring
increased comprehension with speed of reading may not be an effective
way of assessing improvement - at least not for native English speakers
- though it could be different for non-native English speakers.

I suspect that reading along with text read out loud might improve sight
vocabulary but do little for decoding skills. So an interesting
question might be what combination of listening/reading along (with
Kurzweill or other programs that provide aural and visual stimulation)
and direct instruction in decoding would have a maximum effect and for

Laura Chenven


From: assessment-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:assessment-bounces at nifl.gov]
On Behalf Of David J. Rosen
Sent: Saturday, March 29, 2008 9:53 AM
To: The Assessment Discussion List
Cc: Glenn Young
Subject: [Assessment 1279] Assessing reading when reading means
listening totext

Assessment Colleagues,

On the Learning Disabilities discussion list this past week there has
been a fascinating discussion initiated by Glenn Young. He has proposed
that it is time to focus on helping adults with learning disabilities
learn to read using technology. By this he means having computers and
hand-held devices read text out loud, with new readers focusing on their
getting meaning, not on learning how to decode text. The archives of
this discussion will be found at

Glenn wants to see this idea piloted and evaluated. I think that's a
good idea, not that I think we should stop teaching reading but that we
should help learners get access to information from text when learning
to read well may take a very long time, or not be possible. Inexpensive
electronic text readers can help them get access to the meaning of text
that might not otherwise be available. This is an issue of social
justice, of accommodations.

Glenn's proposal, and the excellent discussion that has followed, has
led me to wonder if this idea were piloted how would we measure "reading

This, in turn, has led me to remember the importance of looking at
change in reading behaviors. Many years ago ETS researcher, Ron
Solarzano, developed an assessment for library literacy programs in
California in which the learner and tutor, using a check list, kept
close track of how actual reading behaviors changed over time. As I
recall, the learner kept track monthy of what kinds of reading she did
and how many items for each kind. I believe the checklist included such
behaviors as reading children's books to pre-schoolers, reading cartoons
in newspapers, and reading sports articles in newspapers or magazines.
As I recall, because of the diligence that was required in keeping these
records, and the tutor training in using the instrument, this was a good
measure of change in reading.

Are there good reading behavior instruments being used now? If so, what
are they? Please tell us about them here.

Do you have thoughts on how we might measure "reading gains" , for
example vocabulary growth, comprehension, perhaps even fluency (ability
to gain meaning from text read out loud at a faster rate?) for those who
read using electronic text readers?

David J. Rosen
djrosen at comcast.net

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