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FORMATIVE EVALUATION OF ACADEMIC PROGRESS: - page 8 / 30

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function of grade. The slopes at Grade 4 were reliably greater than at Grade 6; slopes at Grade 3 were reliably greater than at Grades 5 and 6; slopes at Grade 2 were reliably greater than at every subsequent grade; and slopes at Grade 1 also were reliably greater than at every subsequent grade. Both the linear and the quadratic terms contributed significantly to the relationship; the pattern revealed a negatively decelerating curve. Consequently, across academic years, slopes were positive but the size of that positive slope decreased geometrically with grade.

In stark contrast, the ANOVA revealed no relation between slope and grade level for the Year 2 maze slopes. No significant difference occurred between slopes at any two grades. These contrasting findings for oral passage reading and maze slopes are important both for assisting practitioners in setting appropriate weekly rates of progress and, as proposed by Potter and Wamre (1990), for exploring and understanding models of reading development.

In terms of establishing appropriate weekly rates of improvement when monitoring progress with oral passage reading, the student's grade level of functioning must be considered. Findings indicate that for first graders, an improvement of 2 words per week may represent a realistic slope. On the other hand, given research indicating the importance of ambitious goals to enhance student achievement (e.g., Fuchs, Fuchs, & Hamlett, 1989), an improvement of approximately 3 words per week (i.e., 2.10 plus one standard deviation of .80) may represent an appropriately ambitious standard for weekly growth. This may be especially true for students with disabilities who must decrease discrepancies between their performance and that of their peers. Realistic and ambitious standards for weekly growth, respectively, are 1.5 and 2.0 words per week at Grade 2; 1.0 and 1.5 words per week at Grade 3; .85 and 1.1 words per week at Grade 4; .5 and .8 words per week at Grade 5; and .3 and .65 words per week at Grade 6.

When establishing appropriate weekly rates of improvement for monitoring student progress with the maze measurement procedure, however, the student's grade level is of no consequence: A realistic target for weekly improvement appears to be approximately .39 (i.e., the grand mean across grade level); an ambitious target, .84 (i.e., the grand mean plus one pooled within group standard deviation).

These contrasting patterns in slope for the two CBM measures, as a function of grade, are also interesting for understanding models of reading development. Developmental models of reading (e.g., Chall, 1983; LaBerge & Samuels, 1974; Perfetti & Lesgold, 1979) assume that reading entails component skills, each of which is sufficient for a time, but then new skills must be achieved for reading proficiency to increase. These components begin with letter-sound recognition and proceed sequentially to decoding, fluency, comprehension, and the ability to integrate and synthesize material (see Potter & Wamre, 1990).

As indexed by CBM passage reading, students make their most dramatic growth in the early grades, with slopes of 2 words per week at Grade 1 and slopes between .85 and 1.5 words per week at Grades through 4. By Grades 5 and 6, however, slope for general education students' oral passage reading drops to one-half word per week and less. This inverse relation between slope and grade for oral passage reading fits within developmental reading theory. Research clearly indicates that the CBM oral passage reading measure can be used as a global indicator of reading, to index student proficiency across the multiple component skills of reading, including comprehension (e.g., Deno, Mirkin, & Chiang, 1982; Fuchs, Fuchs, & Maxwell, 1988; Shinn,

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