Re: How reading levels are determined

Subject: Re: How reading levels are determined
From: DURL <durl -at- BUFFNET -dot- NET>
Date: Sat, 4 Apr 1998 11:34:51 -0500

I think you'll be sorry you volunteered this! It raises more
questions than it answers!
When the reading material is given the students for the tests that
establish the norm, do you know how that material is put together? Is it a
matter of vocabulary? Of sentence structure? Of syllables-per-sentence?
Is the content based on what they should have learned in school?
What we expect to be culture-based information?
If I were designing the info, I'd weight each of these factors.
Does that, in fact, happen?
Anybody have any resources? Thanks,

Mary Durlak Erie Documentation Inc.
East Aurora, New York (near Buffalo)
durl -at- buffnet -dot- net

On Fri, 3 Apr 1998, Michael Cenedella wrote:

> Since there's interest, and (I know) much ignorance on this subject, I'll
> give some information to the list.
> It will be helpful to techwhirlers as a reference point for audience
> analysis or for convincing an employer which grade level may be a reasonable
> target. You can assume a greater educational level (not necessarily the same
> as a reading level) for specialized business software than for a consumer
> game, to be totally obvious. Technical vocabulary is excluded from the grade
> level rating.
> Children?s Writer?s Word Book, by Alijandra Mogilner, Writers Digest Books,
> 1992, has lists of words at grade levels 1-6, with writing samples in
> fiction and non-fiction at the different grade levels.
> Reading level:
> In my years as a special ed teacher, I learned that most people, including
> myself before I got training, have a wrong impression of what grade level
> measurements mean. Most people think it is a list of words or of reading
> skills which a person must have to succeed at a given grade level?a
> criterion standard. Instead, grade levels are empirically derived from
> normed tests.
> For example, a 6th grade reading level indicates the performance of the
> statistically average 6th grader in the norming sample for a particular
> test. In other words, a test is given to several kids. Their assigned grade
> is indicated on the test form, and tracked along with their answers in the
> scoring process. As the tests are scored, the performance of all 6th graders
> is compiled. The scores (on a well-designed test of a carefully selected
> norming sample) will give an accurate picture of the performance of 6th
> graders. Then the performance of the statistically middle or average 6th
> grader is used as the standard against which other 6th graders are compared.
> A moment?s thought yields the startling realization that at any moment, 50%
> of the 6th graders are below grade level! Scandalous! But wait, it?s
> actually normal. Anyhow, I explained this to kids and parents, and it caused
> great relief. In fact, schools don?t become very concerned until a kid is
> more than two years below grade level.
> Yes, you can find criterion-based grade level systems, but the criteria are
> originally based on some normed data.

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