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ABE--ABE stands for Adult Basic Education and refers to the federally funded programs offered in every locality in the nation. They provide instruction in reading and other basic skills. ABE programs are sometimes distinguished from ASE (Adult Secondary Education) programs, which provide higher-level skills instruction in preparation for the GED tests or an alternative high school diploma.
ABE Target Population--The ABE target population is adults, aged 16 and older, who have not completed high school or who need to improve their basic skills.
Affix--An affix is a word part attached to the beginning or end of a "root word." It is a general term that includes both prefixes (pre, un, dis, etc.) and suffixes (ful, less, ly, etc.). An affix may change the meaning (happy, unhappy) or function of a word. For example, ly changes an adjective to an adverb, as in "The happy child played happily."
Alphabetics--Alphabetics refers to the skills related to using letters to represent the sounds of language (the sound-symbol relationship). Alphabetics skills include both phonemic awareness and decoding.
Antonym--An antonym is a word that is opposite in meaning to another word. An antonym for dark is light.
Assessment--Assessment in education is the process of collecting and analyzing data to make educational decisions. Assessment is a general term that refers to tests and other measures, like oral reading performances, collections of writings and other work products, teacher observations, and self-evaluations.
CASAS--Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System
Computer-assisted instruction (CAI)--The term computer-assisted instruction refers to computer-based learning programs that present content sequentially, request responses from the learner, and provide immediate feedback for each response. CAI programs usually include tests and keep records of each individual's progress.
Consonant blends--A consonant blend is a cluster of two or three consonants at the beginning or end of a word or syllable. All the letter-sounds are pronounced, but are blended quickly together. The word brisk has two consonant blends: br and sk.
Consonant digraphs--A consonant digraph is a combination of consonants that represent one sound (sh, th, ch, ph).
Context clues--Context clues are sources of information from the surrounding text that indicate the meaning and/or pronunciation of a word. A reader may find clues in the sentence in which the word occurs, especially when restatements, definitions, or examples are provided. Clues also may be found elsewhere in the text or pictures.
Continuant sound--A continuant sound is produced as an "uninterrupted air flow" (Harris & Hodges, 1995, p. 44). A speaker can continue the sound, allowing for smooth blending with the next sound in a word. Examples of continuant sounds are /s/, /m/, /f/, and all the vowel sounds. See stop sound.
Decoding--In its broadest sense, decoding is what readers do to identify words in order to translate written language to oral language. Decoding may include using letter-sound and syllable-sound correspondences, common spelling patterns, and sight-word memory. See phonological decoding.
Diphthong--A diphthong is a vowel sound that begins with one vowel and slides into another. Examples are the sounds often represented by ou and ow, or oi and oy.
Dysfluent--The word dysfluent describes speaking or reading that is repetitious, hesitant, "choppy," or in any way not fluent.
Dyslexia--Dyslexia is a type of learning disability. It is a specific language-based disorder characterized by problems in learning to read, write, and spell, and specifically, difficulty with single-word decoding. A person with dyslexia has reading skills significantly below what might be expected of the individual based on cognitive ability and educational experiences. See learning disability and reading disability.
Elision--The word elision, when used in the context of reading, usually refers to the omission of a sound or syllable in a word. Phoneme deletion tasks are examples of elision (e.g., "say stack without the /s/").
ESL--ESL stands for English as a Second Language. The term may refer to the program--which provides instruction for immigrants in speaking, understanding, reading, and writing English--or the learners (as in ESL adults). These students are also called English language learners (ELLs). See ESOL.
ESOL--ESOL is often used interchangeably with the term ESL. ESOL stands for English for Speakers of Other Languages. The distinction is sometimes made that this term may be more accurate because its use does not assume that English is only the second language a learner is acquiring. ESOL is more often used to refer to adults or programs for adults (rather than children). These adults are also called English language learners (ELLs). See ESL.
Experimental research--Experimental research is one of several research methods. Although other kinds of research produce valuable knowledge, this is the only kind that allows researchers to test educational methods and materials for effectiveness. It is often described as being at the top of the hierarchy of scientific research evidence, because an experiment is the only process that allows a researcher to say with confidence that A caused B (where A represents the instructional method or "intervention" being tested and B represents the observed change). The researcher randomly assigns students to either the treatment group that receives the instruction being tested or the control group that does not. Random assignment is vital to the experiment because it helps to rule out other factors, not related to the educational intervention, that might cause the change.
Explicit instruction--In explicit instruction, the teacher presents content clearly and directly, providing step-by-step directions and modeling, followed by guided practice with feedback, independent practice, and frequent reviews. Similar structured approaches may be called direct instruction, active teaching, or expository teaching.
Expository text--Expository text presents and explains facts and information about a topic. It is distinguished from narrative text, which tells a story or relates a series of events.
Expressive vocabulary--Expressive vocabulary refers to the words a person understands and uses in speaking and writing. It is contrasted with receptive vocabulary, which refers to the words understood when reading or listening to speech. See vocabulary and receptive vocabulary.
Figurative language--Figurative language is the non-literal use of words, as in the use of images to make comparisons. Examples are found in phrases like "perky as a puppy," "eyes like two burning coals," and "a stony silence."
Fluency--Fluency is used to describe speech and reading. Reading fluency refers to speed, ease, accuracy, and expression. A fluent reader is skilled at identifying words and reads with appropriate phrasing and intonation.
GE--This is an abbreviation for grade equivalent and is often used in the phrase "grade-equivalent scores" to describe a type of test score that compares individuals' performance with the typical scores of students at specific grade levels.
GED--The tests of General Educational Development are known as the GED test(s). The GED (high-school equivalency) certificate is awarded to those who pass the tests.
Graphic organizer--A graphic organizer is a diagram or chart that visually represents the relationships among ideas and information in a text. Some kinds of graphic organizers are called maps or webs.
Inference--An inference, in the context of reading, is a conclusion drawn from evidence in a text that leads to knowledge or understanding that is not directly stated in print. In making inferences a reader understands what is not explicitly stated by filling in information from his background knowledge. This process is often called "reading between the lines."
Intensive instruction--The defining factors in intensive instruction are student engagement and time. In intensive instruction students are paying attention and actively engaged in a learning task--listening, thinking, responding, creating, or otherwise working--and doing so frequently for significant amounts of time.
Intervention--An educational intervention is a general term that may refer to a practice, strategy, curriculum, or program. This term is usually used when describing research.
Learning disability--"A learning disability is a general term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities. These disorders are intrinsic to the individual, presumed to be due to central nervous system dysfunction, and may occur across the life span" (National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities, as cited in National Adult Literacy and Learning Disabilities Center, 1999, Guidebook 1, p.12).
Linguistic--Linguistic is an adjective meaning "related to language."
Miscue--A miscue is a reading error, a deviation from the text during oral reading. Analyzing miscues and identifying patterns of errors may help a teacher understand the nature or origin of a reading problem.
Modeling--Modeling in teaching is showing students how to accomplish a task or use a strategy by demonstrating it explicitly. Teachers are often encouraged to model even their thinking processes, as they show students what to do and how to do it.
Onset--The onset is the part of a word or syllable that precedes the vowel: b-ook, st-ack, pl-aym-ate. See also rime.
Percentile rank score--A percentile rank score shows the percentage of people in a test's norming group who scored at or below a particular raw score. So if a student is at the 75th percentile, we infer that 75% of people who took the test had the same or a lower score, and only 25% scored higher.
Phoneme--A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound that changes the meaning of spoken words. The word sit has three phonemes, /s/ /i/ /t/. Substituting /f/ for the first phoneme changes the word to fit.
Phonemic awareness--Phonemic awareness is the ability to detect and manipulate phonemes in words. Phonemic awareness is important because it is required for development of accurate decoding skills. See phonological awareness.
Phonics--Phonics is an instructional method for teaching word identification that stresses letter-sound relationships: teaching the sounds that letters and groups of letters represent and how to blend the sounds to identify words.
Phonological awareness--Phonological awareness is a broad category that includes phonemic awareness. Phonological awareness is the perception of speech sounds as distinct from their meanings. It includes the ability to detect rhymes, syllables within words, and (at its most refined level) individual sounds within syllables and words (phonemic awareness).
Phonological decoding--Phonological decoding refers to what readers do when they use letter-sound and syllable-sound correspondences to identify words. Phonics instruction builds phonological decoding skills.
Prefix--A prefix is a word part (affix) attached to the beginning of a word. Common prefixes include pre, un, dis, anti, non, and re. See affix and suffix.
Professional wisdom--In this book, professional wisdom refers to the judgment teachers acquire from experience. This practical knowledge allows teachers to apply and adapt research-based facts and principles to their unique instructional settings and circumstances.
Pseudo-word--A pseudo-word is a pronounceable string of letters that has no meaning. Pseudo-words are often used to assess decoding skills, because correct pronunciation can only be based on phonological decoding. Sight word memory and meaning clues do not apply to this task. Pseudo-words may also be called invented words and nonsense words.
Rapid naming--Rapid naming of numbers, colors, objects, or letters is a measure of processing speed. It is a common assessment task because rapid naming is correlated with reading ability.
Readability--Readability refers to the difficulty level of written material. Several factors contribute to ease or difficulty of comprehension, including concept density, vocabulary, and sentence length/complexity. See readability formula.
Readability formula--A readability formula is used to estimate the readability (difficulty level) of written material. Typical formulas are based on the length of sentences and the number of long or unfamiliar words. See readability.
Reading disability--A reading disability is a type of learning disability. Reading disability may be suspected when a person's reading achievement is significantly below what might be expected based on cognitive ability and educational experiences. See learning disability and dyslexia.
Receptive vocabulary--Receptive vocabulary refers to the words a person understands upon hearing them in speech or when reading. It is distinguished from expressive vocabulary, which refers to those words understood and used by an individual in speaking and writing. See vocabulary and expressive vocabulary.
Reliability--Reliability, as used in the context of assessment, refers to the consistency of results/scores. A test or assessment process should produce consistent results over time (if no instruction is provided) and when administered or scored by different people. Different (alternate) forms of the test should also produce similar results. Reliability for published tests is evaluated using statistical methods and expressed as a correlation coefficient, a number between 0 and 1.0. See validity.
Rime--A rime is the part of a word or syllable that includes the vowel and any consonant sounds that come after it (b-ook, st-ack, pl-aym-ate). Rimes are also called phonograms or word patterns. See onset.
Roots, Root words--A root word is the basic part of a complex word. The root or base carries the core of the meaning. Affixes are added to roots to alter the meaning or function of the word. The word disappearance is based on the root word appear. The prefix dis changes the meaning, and the suffix ance changes the word from a verb to a noun. Root is also used to refer to the historical origin of a word or syllable. For instance, aerospace includes the Greek root, aero, meaning air.
Rubric--A rubric is a scoring guide used in performance assessment. It includes well-defined criteria describing the characteristics of student performance at each of several points on a numerical scale. For example, a four-point scale for evaluating student writing would describe the qualities and types of errors found in typical examples of writing at each of the four rubric points.
Scaffolded instruction--Scaffolded instruction is a broad term that may refer to various methods of supporting learners as they learn and gradually withdrawing supports as they become capable of independent performance of a task or skill. Supports may include clues, clarifying questions, reminders, encouragement, or breaking the problem down into steps.
Sight words--Words recognized very quickly (automatically) without conscious decoding are called sight words. A reader may have originally identified these words by "sounding them out," but after many exposures, they are stored in memory and recognized immediately. The term sight words should not be understood to imply that words are recognized as wholes. Instead, research suggests readers process all the letters in a word even when reading very rapidly.
Signal words--Signal words are those words and phrases that give clues to the organization of material, identify what's important, and show the relationships among ideas and information (first, second, finally, although, in contrast, however, therefore, for example).
Stop sound--A stop sound is one in which the speaker's air flow stops to complete the production of the sound. The English stop sounds are /p/, /b/, /t/, /d/, /k/, and /g/ (Harris & Hodges, 1995, p. 243). Stop sounds are of interest in reading instruction because they create problems in decoding. Stop sounds are harder to blend than continuant sounds, like /s/ and /m/. For example, to "sound out" a word, a reader produces the sound /b/ in isolation, resulting in something like "buh." In contrast, the /s/ sound can be continued and slid into the next sound without adding the "uh" sound. See continuant sound.
Strategy instruction--Strategy instruction teaches learning tools. The focus is on teaching learners how to learn effectively, by applying principles, rules, or multi-step processes to solve problems or accomplish learning tasks.
Structural analysis--Structural analysis is a strategy for identifying and defining words that involves attention to word parts, including, prefixes, suffixes, and root words.
Suffix--A suffix is an affix (word part) attached to the end of a "root word." A suffix may change the meaning or function of a word. Suffixes include the plural endings (s and es), verb endings (s, ed, ing), as well as ly, ful, less, ish, ent, and many others. See affix, prefix, and root.
Syllable--A syllable is a word or word part that contains a vowel sound. Some words have only one syllable: ad, be, ill. Others have two or more: syl-la-ble; se-quence, lit-er-al, im-ple-men-ta-tion.
Synonym--A synonym is a word with the same meaning as another word. Glad is a synonym for happy.
TABE--Test of Adult Basic Education
Validate--To validate a test is to assess the validity of its scores related to specific interpretations and uses of the scores. See validity.
Validity--Validity refers to the interpretation and use of test scores, that is, the likelihood that appropriate inferences about characteristics or abilities may be made based on the scores and appropriate decisions made. If a test score accurately represents the abilities it is intended to measure, teachers can feel confident about decisions based on the score. Validity of a score may vary depending on the way in which it is used and the types of individuals being tested. Formal, published instruments have usually been subjected to various statistical tests and assigned a validity coefficient, a number from 0 to 1.0. See validate and reliability.
Vocabulary--Vocabulary refers to the words understood or used by a person. Our oral vocabulary is the words we can understand and use in speaking and listening. Our reading vocabulary is the store of words we can read and understand. See receptive vocabulary and expressive vocabulary.
Word analysis--Word analysis may be used broadly, to refer to all word identification skills, including decoding and sight word recognition. Word analysis, word identification, and word recognition are often used interchangeably. (Some prefer to reserve the term word analysis for the actual analysis involved in phonological decoding.) See word identification, word recognition, decoding, phonological decoding.
Word identification, Word recognition--Word identification and word recognition refer to the processes used to determine pronunciation/meaning of a word: both conscious decoding and automatic (sight word) recognition.