Reading Proficiency in Elementary: Considering Statewide Testing, Teacher Ratings and Rankings, and Reading Curriculum-Based Measurement

By Missall, Kristen N.; Hosp, Michelle K. et al. | School Psychology Review, September 2019 | Go to article overview

Reading Proficiency in Elementary: Considering Statewide Testing, Teacher Ratings and Rankings, and Reading Curriculum-Based Measurement


Missall, Kristen N., Hosp, Michelle K., Hosp, John L., School Psychology Review


Emphasis on student accountability in recent iterations of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (1965), notably the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 amendments, has increased the focus of educators and education stakeholders on student reading proficiency. In particular, importance has been placed on reading outcomes in statewide assessment because of the robust predictive features of reading competence for later school success including accessing content-specific instruction, graduating high school, and achieving postsecondary education and employment (Hernandez, 2011).

It is not feasible to rely solely on statewide tests to determine which students are proficient readers. Problematic features of statewide tests for identifying proficiency include annual administration, administration at some grades but not others, time-intensive administration, scoring delays, and high financial costs. Given the importance of having all students reach acceptable levels of reading proficiency, it is worth exploring options other than statewide tests to assist in identifying which students are proficient readers. One approach to identification of reading skill is universal screening. Common assessment options for universal screening are curriculum-based measurements (CBMs) and teacher judgment. CBM is a measurement model that uses brief, technically adequate assessment tools of key skills (e.g., oral reading fluency [ORF]) that are related to general outcomes (e.g., broad reading). CBMs and teacher judgments can be used in universal screening of all students to systematically collect information about student reading to determine which students are predicted to meet proficiency standards and which students are at risk. In this study, we explored teacher ratings and rankings and CBMs of reading to determine their identification of proficient readers as measured on a statewide assessment for a sample of students in kindergarten through sixth grade (K-6).

Identifying Student Reading Proficiency

Teacher judgment is often gathered as part of any evaluation of student reading. Because teachers work with students daily on reading development, they usually have keen insight into the reading skill development of individual students. Research spanning the past 30 years supports the notion that teachers are accurate evaluators of student reading achievement (Begeny, Eckert, Montarello, & Storie, 2008; Eckert, Dunn, Codding, Begeny, & Kleinmann, 2006; Feinberg & Shapiro, 2003, 2009; Hoge & Coladarci, 1989; Martin & Shapiro, 2011; Speece et al., 2010, 2011). Studies have also shown that inclusion of teacher ratings in student assessment improves the accuracy and validity of predicting students who are at risk in reading (Speece & Ritchey, 2005; Speece et al., 2011).

In addition to predicting reading risk, studies have shown teacher judgment can predict performance on statewide tests. Results indicate teacher ratings predicted student achievement on statewide tests within and across years (Gallant, 2013; Kettler & Elliott, 2010; Quay & Steele, 1998) and across different assessments such as the Iowa Assessments (Hoover, Dunbar, & Frisbie, 2001) and the Measure of Academic Progress tests (Northwest Evaluation Association, http://www.nwea.org). Not surprisingly, research has shown teacher judgment is relatively accurate when identifying reading achievement including students who are at risk in reading. At the same time, teacher judgment should never be considered in the absence of other educational information for decision making about reading proficiency given potential biases and general emphasis on multimethod, multi-informant best practices for data-based decision making (Kovaleski, VanDerHeyden, & Shapiro, 2013).

Due to the widespread use, feasibility, relative low cost, and instructional relevance of CBMs in reading, CBM reading data should be considered as additional information when evaluating and determining reading proficiency. …

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