Developing a Standardized Measure for Reading Ability

Developing a Standardized Measure for Reading Ability

When thinking about the difference a standardized measure for reading ability means for a student, consider the following scenario:

Katherine starts school in an eastern state where her scores on state assessment tests meet or exceed the standards for her grade level. Then in the sixth grade, Katherine moves to another state across the country where she takes a different assessment test and measures in a lower percentile than she did in the fourth grade. Is this because of the trauma of moving? Or is it because topics that were part of the eastern state’s curriculum in sixth grade are part of her new state’s curriculum in fourth grade, so Katherine is being measured on content that she has not yet learned?

With a standard measure for reading ability, Katherine can move from state to state, taking whatever assessment test is mapped to the state’s curriculum, and still receive a standard measure for her reading ability that can be mapped to the materials she uses in school and at home. She may not have learned all of the content that the state curriculum requires at a specific grade level, but her teachers and parents will know her reading ability is continuing to increase, or, if it has decreased, know that it has been measured by a common scale based on her ability and not on content.

This article originally appeared in the 04/01/2005 issue of THE Journal.