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

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Susan Kidd SKidd at sbctc.edu
Mon Mar 31 04:52:03 EDT 2008

It might make more sense to assess comprehension of content material for students who employ reading technology.

Many years ago, I worked with a high school student who had a significant learning disability in reading (I was actually tutoring him in math). After many unsuccessful interventions, his parents resorted to reading his homework aloud to him. The result was that rather than receiving Ds and Fs in such subjects as history and English, he was able to maintain a C average.


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From: assessment-bounces at nifl.gov on behalf of David J. Rosen
Sent: Sat 3/29/2008 6:52 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 gains"?

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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