Reading Assessments

Erin Acker - Literacy Assessments as Teaching Tools

What is the Definition of Reading?

According to Peter Afflerbach, "reading is the act of constructing meaning from text. We use skills, strategies, and prior knowledge, all of which are developmental in nature, to understand what we read. The act of reading is supported by reader motivation and positive reader affect. We read to help us achieve our goals, within and outside of school" (Afflerbach, 2012).

Formative vs. Summative Assessments

Formative Assessments - these are assessments that drive instruction. Formative assessments occur at the beginning of and throughout a learning unit to determine the needs of the learners.

Summative Assessments - these are assessments given at the end of a learning unit to determine what has been learned. Summative assessments judge performance.

Using the CURRV Model to Determine the Suitability of Reading Assessment

The acronym CURRV stands for the five criteria by which an assessment should be examined to ensure that it is appropriate for measuring student learning.

1. Consequences - the main consequence of assessment should be to help students further develop their reading skills.

2, Usefulness - "a useful assessment would be one that allows the teacher to gather accurate and useful information about students' reading" (Afflerbach, 2012).

3. Roles and Responsibilities - the teacher's role is to remind students to take the assessment seriously and it is the students' responsibility to put forth their best effort in order for the assessment to be a valid representation of their knowledge.

4. Reliability - this has two components:

a. the true component - does this reflect the child's true ability?

b. the error component - which parts of the assessment do not reflect

the child's true ability?

5. Validity - there are two kinds of validity that we should consider:

a. construct validity - when the assessment represents those skills that

are explicitly taught and deemed valuable within the reading


b. ecological validity - the ability of the child to generalize the skills

they learn in the classroom to the world.

Focus on Assessments and Accountability

"Teachers in districts more concerned with accountability pressures tend to describe children's literacy development with less detail, with less attention to the child's interests, and with more distancing language" (Costello et al, 2005).

Consequently, as teachers we need to find a balance between instruction and assessment and focus instead on the child!