The purpose of this study is to investigate various approaches to fluency assessment with the aim of developing guidelines for valid assessment and informed instruction. Specifically, we ask: 1) How do reading rate, accuracy, and expression interact to produce high levels of reading comprehension? 2) How does reading fluency change across developmental levels and texts of different difficulty?
Funded by: The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction,
Co-PI: Tom Stritikus
Every year thousands of students take standardized tests and state reading tests, and every year thousands fail them. When the federal legislation associated with “No Child Left Behind” is fully implemented, these numbers will grow exponentially and English Language Learners (ELLs) are projected to make up a disproportionately high percentage of these failing students. Schools districts and schools are struggling for ways to meet the needs of these students. Many of them may not be receiving the educational services they may need and, with increasingly limited resources, many may be exited from additional language support classes before they are ready to deal with academic challenges in English.
There are surprisingly little data on the nature of the instructional services provided to ELLs in elementary and middle schools and on their reading and writing performance. This mixed-method study addresses both issues. Interviews with administrators, ESL teachers, and classroom teachers in more than 15 schools, across 6 school districts have provided data on the envisioned and enacted programs of support provided to language minority students. By tracking district policies into school programs and individual classrooms where mainstream teachers work with ELL students, we are learning about how programs actually work and what educators believe can help them meet the needs of students. In addition, we are conducting a secondary analysis of state test results to examine the reading and writing performance of ELLs who are currently receiving services as well as those who have been exited from supplemental support. Our goal is to gain a better understanding of the policies and practices that can support ELL students and their teachers. With these data in hand, we are more likely to provide appropriate literacy instruction for these students and ultimately help them achieve and succeed in school.
Funded by: The Nesholm Family Foundation
For the past four years, the Nesholm Family Foundation has supported an initiative to improve literacy instruction in several high-need Seattle middle schools. Working together with literacy coaches and administrators, we have developed curriculum models to enhance reading instruction and provided on-site professional development for classroom teachers. Over the years, we have focused on explicit instruction in comprehension and vocabulary, reading motivation and engagement, using assessment information to inform instruction, and model teaching. This on-going school project provides a bi-directional link between reading research and on-the-ground practice: new research informs classroom practice and policy, and practice in schools informs possibilities for new research.
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