Academic journal article Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development

Technical Analysis of the Reading Essential Skills Screener-Upper Elementary Version

Academic journal article Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development

Technical Analysis of the Reading Essential Skills Screener-Upper Elementary Version

Article excerpt

The technical characteristics of scores on the Reading Essential Skills Screener-Upper Elementary Version (B. T. Erford, G. Vitali, R. Hass. & R. R. Boykin, 1995) were studied using 4 independent samples of boys and girls in Grades 4-6. Decision efficiency, principal axis factor analysis, internal consistency, 30-day test--retest reliability, and construct validity procedures were performed. Research and practice implications were examined.

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Legislation such as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires standardized reading assessments to ensure that school systems are aggressively working toward reading proficiency for all students. The act essentially mandates that states receiving federal Title I funds test students annually and publish the results (Ratner, 2003). Although group-administered tests can be helpful in identifying students with reading problems, individual reading screening tests are frequently used to begin the process of at-risk identification. The Reading Essential Skills Screener-Upper Elementary Version (RESS-U; Erford, Vitali, Haas, & Boykin, 1995) was designed to bridge the need for an individual reading assessment that screens for the identification of struggling readers. Once students are appropriately identified as reading deficient, educators can adapt the curriculum to meet individual reading needs and thus better meet local, district, and federal reading goals. The RESS-U is one of nine tests that make up the Essential Skills Screener (ESS; Erford et al., 1995), a series of reading, writing, and math skills screening tests for the following three age levels: preschool, early elementary, and upper elementary. The RESS-U states that it was "designed to be used as a screening instrument for the identification of children at-risk for potential academic failure, to facilitate remedial program decisions, and to generate more accurate referrals for deep testing" (Erford et al., 1995, p. 1). During the initial test development, a comprehensive review of the professional literature on reading skill was undertaken. From this review, the three RESS-U tasks were conceived: sight word vocabulary, digraphs and blends, and oral reading/passage comprehension. For these tasks, items were empirically tested through field trials to select the items that would perform reliably and contribute the most to the final scale's validity as a reading screening test. These data seem to suggest that the RESS-U appropriately and adequately measures reading skill.

Specifically, the RESS-U is a 35-item reading screening test that can be individually administered, scored, and interpreted in approximately 10 minutes. Each item is scored right/wrong and can be administered by educational professionals or trained paraprofessionals. This may prove to be the RESS-U's distinct advantage.

The RESS-U is composed of three tasks reflecting reading skill development and the measurement of that development specifically in the upper elementary years (i.e., ages 9-11). These activities include sight word vocabulary, digraphs and blends, and oral reading/passage comprehension.

The Sight Word Vocabulary portion of the RESS-U requires students to use their reading experience and word attack skills to identify a list of words. The research on fluency and automatic, effortless sight word vocablulary was clear: Children who devote too much energy and effort to decoding words find that the process detracts from constructing meaning and drawing inference from passages (Greenwood & Bilbow, 2002). Sight word vocabulary involves determining the pronunciation and, to some degree, meaning of an unknown word. Research on the psychology of reading suggested that fluent word recognition was a prerequisite for good reading comprehension and enjoyable reading experiences (Nes, 2003).

The Digraphs and Blends section of the RESS-U assesses students' ability to pronounce sounds. …

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