[Assessment 1431] Re: Discussion on Youth and Literacy

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Marie Cora marie.cora at hotspurpartners.com
Thu Sep 25 13:50:34 EDT 2008

Hi Stephanie,

Thank you so much for sharing this. You really do have a comprehensive
approach to assessing the students in your program. It's so important that
your program provides training in these tools and also the time to use the
tools with students effectively.

I note that Wendy's questions focus on the lack of time and training, and I
know that this is also an issue for many programs.

Stephanie - do you know if these components of your program - staff training
and built-in assessment time - were written into the requirements of your
program's proposal to the funder? I ask because I wonder how programs might
start to strategize how they could garner more resources on the diagnostic
(formative) side of assessment. So much time and energy (and money!) goes
into the summative side of assessment.

And to everyone: do people have strategies for getting more diagnostic data
from students, despite lack of time and resources? Do you set aside time
for doing different diagnostic assessments, or do you include on-going
diagnostics within classes themselves?

It seems like what Stephanie describes in #3 below might be things that
people could try.

What do you think?


Marie Cora

Assessment Discussion List Moderator

-----Original Message-----
From: assessment-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:assessment-bounces at nifl.gov] On
Behalf Of Stephanie Korber
Sent: Monday, September 22, 2008 3:22 PM
To: The Assessment Discussion List
Subject: [Assessment 1430] Re: Discussion on Youth and Literacy

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 classes
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:

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 question:

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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