Science or Reading: What Is Being Measured by Standardized Tests?

By Visone, Jeremy D. | American Secondary Education, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

Science or Reading: What Is Being Measured by Standardized Tests?


Visone, Jeremy D., American Secondary Education


ABSTRACT

This study examined reading issues associated with a standardized science test. Grade 11 students in Connecticut were shown released science test items and asked about the reading issues associated with the items. Findings suggested that students varied in their understanding of the nature of the items and in their ability to read for detail. The analysis of responses indicated that students perceived the following factors to be influences on their understanding of items: background information, information provided by items, unique item features, and ability to handle the challenges presented by items. Findings raised questions about interpretations of students' science content knowledge that are based solely on standardized tests.

SCIENCE OR READING: WHAT is BEING MEASURED BY STANDARDIZED TESTS?

Results from the 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) indicated that American students were underachieving in science and that they compared unfavorably with students in other countries in this subject. The results showed that science achievement of American fourth and eighth graders has not changed statistical Iy since 1995, when the study was first conducted (Gonzales et al., 2008). Moreover, despite being the richest nation in the world, the United States had produced students who scored behind those in several other countries, some of had far fewer resources. Those countries included Slovenia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic as well as Chinese Taipei, Singapore, Only 15% of American fourth graders and 10% of eighth graders surpassed the science benchmark for the 2007 TIMSS.

Given these results, it is critical that American science educators have valid measures of students' science knowledge, to insure that curricular revisions and interventions are allocated appropriately. That raises the question, "Is the standardized science test within TIMSS, (or any other standardized science tests) isolating scientific knowledge, or are other variables influencing the results? One such variable that can potentially erode the validity of standardized tests is reading. The importance of reading cannot be overstated in our information-rich society. The ability to read has been considered a foundation for many classroom learning and assessment tasks, including those in science. Therefore, reading is a critical variable that must be considered when assessing students in the science.

PURPOSE

Educators have often examined the readability of test items, compared students' achievement on reading and content-area assessments, and debated the validity of tests for various student subgroups. However, one aspect is missing from this stream of data, the voice of the students. How well can they interpret test items? What issues do they identify in test items? How well-equipped do they perceive themselves to be to answer test items?

This article represents part of a larger study that examined the relationship between reading and students' performance on a science test. This portion of the study qualitatively examined students self reports about reading-related factors that could potentially influence their ability to respond correctly to Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) science items. Any test that uses language in its items is inherently assessing students' reading ability as well as content knowledge (American Educational Research Association [AERA], American Psychological Association [APA], National Council on Measurement in Education [NCME], 1 999). As Roe, Stoodt, and Burns (1991) explained, "Secondary school students sometimes fail to do well on tests, not because they do not know the material, but because they have difficulty reading and comprehending the test" (p. 1 62).

REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

Reading ability is not only instrumental for learning content, but this skill has also been shown to influence students' performance on standardized tests. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Science or Reading: What Is Being Measured by Standardized Tests?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.