[Assessment 1430] Re: Discussion on Youth and Literacy

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Stephanie Korber korber at centerforliteracy.org
Mon Sep 22 15:22:28 EDT 2008

First, I want to apologize to everyone for entering in this discussion
so late. I know the intended days to discuss youth were Thursday and
Friday. Unfortunately, there was a technical problem on my end, but
that has now been resolved. I'd like to take this opportunity to
respond to some of the posts from those two days.

Question from Marie - Other assessments used for youth in our programs?
Response - Many of our youth programs are in collaboration with other
youth serving providers. Examples include Philadelphia's Employment,
Education and Empowerment (E3) Centers, accelerated high schools,
traditional high schools, and specialized programs developed by the
School District of Philadelphia. The most common assessment used is the
TABE Reading and Math (for placement and progress), though one program
uses the STAR computerized reading program (mainly cloze activities to
score reading level). Our literacy specialists, as mentioned in a
previous post, also use the Woodcock Johnson Diagnostic Reading Battery
for identifying specific foundational skill needs in reading
instruction. We are starting a new program at one of our comprehensive
high schools, and at that site will be using the Gates-MacGinitie
assessment. In many of our programs we are fortunate to have one-on-one
assessment time built in. We have found this to be an important
component when offering reading instruction, particularly for those
reading below the 6th grade level (according to TABE).

Wendy wrote - I find the best ways for a quick reading assessment is
oral reading followed by comprehension questions. Somebody who stumbles
badly in oral reading
will be at best a slow reader and probably lose a lot of comprehension;
somebody who's a whiz at oral reading can still miss meaning. Our
are leveled, so I shouldn't have anyone below 6th grade this year; last
year all my students were. When we can, we use the DAR, but it is
time-consuming and often neither students nor teachers have the time to
give it or the training to know what to do with the results.
Nevertheless, the NIFL Assessment Strategies and Reading Profiles
website is useful: http://www.nifl.gov/readingprofiles/

My question is, are there other methods that are useful to
time-stressed, relatively untrained teachers like me?

Lots to say here Wendy, and I hope some of it is useful, though I'll
tell you upfront that I don't have a silver bullet in response to your

1. The assessments used on the reading profiles section on NIFL are
similar to those found on the WCJ-DRB. They measure the similar
components of reading. Unfortunately, the best way to determine why
someone is reading below a 6th grade level (hence the skills that need
to be addressed in instruction) is to complete a variety of assessments.
I know this is cost-intensive for smaller programs who might not have
the resources to purchase assessments, pay for human resources, train
volunteers, etc. My issue with the TABE is that it may tell you that a
person is reading below a 6th grade level, but doesn't tell you why
(comprehension, word recognition issues, challenges with decoding,
limited vocabulary, etc.) It also only gives a silent reading comp
level and not an oral reading comp level. As an aside, on the LD
list-serv they are talking about the C-TOPP (Comprehensive Test of
Phonological Processing). This assessment will address the phonemic
awareness skills discussed in previous posts on this list (phoneme
blending, segmenting, isolating, etc.)
2. For those over a sixth grade level on the TABE - I wouldn't
necessarily use the aforementioned assessments.
3. Listening to a learner read to determine instructional needs is
most effective when using leveled texts and the listener (teacher) knows
what to listen for - common miscues (ie. lack of work recognition,
inability to decode, not pausing appropriately, can't answer literal,
inferential or analytical comprehension questions.) If you listen to a
learner read, but the text is way above their instructional level, it is
more difficult to determine what specific skills to remediate. Also,
this will frustrate the learner. A QRI (qualitative reading inventory
would be a good informal assessment tool) and tutors could be trained on
how to administer it and what to do with the information gleaned from
the results.

Let me stop there and see if additional questions arise. Also, if I can
add clarity to this long response, please let me know.


Stephanie Korber
Director of Youth Education
Center for Literacy, Inc.
636 S. 48th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19143
215 474 1235 ext. 270 & 219
korber at centerforliteracy.org
-----Original Message-----
From: assessment-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:assessment-bounces at nifl.gov]
On Behalf Of Marie Cora
Sent: Monday, September 22, 2008 9:30 AM
To: 'The Assessment Discussion List'
Subject: [Assessment 1427] Discussion on Youth and Literacy

Hi everyone,

I'm so sorry: we seem to be experiencing technical difficulties and so
only a couple of emails focused on this topic have gotten posted. I am
working on this now and hope to have the tech issues sorted through so a
few other posts can be put through. Thanks for your patience!


Marie Cora, Moderator
Assessment Discussion List
National Institute for Literacy
Email me at: marie.cora at hotspurpartners.com
Subscribe at: http://www.nifl.gov/mailman/listinfo/assessment

Coordinator of Assessment
Program Planning Resource Collection
National Institute for Literacy
Visit at:

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