MultiLit uses a range of standardised and placement tests when assessing students. The tests are designed to measure the different skills needed for a student to read effectively. The following gives an outline of each test objective:
Neale Analysis of Reading – 3rd Edition
In this assessment, students are required to read a series of passages that increase in difficulty. After each passage students are asked comprehension questions about the passage. This assessment measures reading accuracy and reading comprehension. Reading accuracy is the ability to correctly identify and pronounce words in text. Reading comprehension is the ability to understand what has been read. Reading accuracy influences comprehension because if a passage is not read correctly this will then the affect the student’s understanding of what they have read. Reading fluency, which is how quickly and accurately a passage is read, can also impact reading comprehension because slow reading may result in the reader forgetting what has been read. Some children may have difficulties with comprehension in general, which impacts on their reading comprehension score. In most cases as reading accuracy improves so too does reading comprehension.
Burt Word Reading Test
The Burt Word Reading Test is a measure of single word recognition. Students are required to read a list of words presented in isolation that increase in difficulty. Students are presented with this list and asked to read as many words as they can, as accurately as they can.
South Australian Spelling Test
In this assessment, students are asked to write a series of words presented in increasing difficulty. It begins with phonetically regular words and some sight words and progresses through to rule based spelling and more difficult words. The student is told each word in isolation, in a sentence and then the word is repeated again in isolation.
Wheldall Assessment of Reading Passages (WARP)
Reading fluency refers to how quickly and accurately a passage is read. Reading fluency impacts on reading comprehension because the slower a student reads, the less information is retained in their memory. This may impact their understanding of what has been read. Reading fluency is also an important component in reading longer passages of text. The WARP is a curriculum-based measure that looks at oral reading fluency and was developed by our Director, Professor Kevin Wheldall. In this test, students are asked to read a specifically designed passage for one minute. If a student is having difficulty with reading accuracy, their reading fluency score is usually also affected because reading fluency is dependent on reading accuracy.
Martin and Pratt Nonword Reading Test
As the name suggests, the words in this test are not real words. This test assesses phonological recoding, which is the ability to match a sequence of letters to their corresponding sounds. These are the skills that are used when approaching new and unfamiliar words to work out what they are. Students having difficulty with phonological recoding may be relying on compensatory strategies when reading. When approaching a new or unfamiliar word, compensatory strategies include:
- using visual cues, for example, looking at pictures to predict words or using a few letters in a word to predict what the word is;
- using context, choosing a word that would make sense in a sentence and putting that word in; or
- relying on memory, trying to remember what a word is rather than using a generative strategy of looking at the word, breaking it down into its parts, sounding it out and working out the word from there.
These compensatory strategies can be successful, particularly at a younger age where exposure to words is limited and there are a lot of pictures available. As texts become more complex there are less pictures, too many words to guess successfully and limitations to the number of new words that can be stored in memory so generative strategies are essential to work out new and unfamiliar words.
Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test – 4th Edition (PPVT-IV)
The PPVT-IV looks at the student’s receptive language or understanding of words. Students are presented with four pictures and asked to identify the picture that best describes a word. Vocabulary knowledge can impact on reading comprehension. If a student has a low score on this measure it may indicate he/she has difficulties with language and/or other areas and further psycho-educational testing may be useful to determine if any areas require addressing. Students with English as a second language may have a low score on this measure because their understanding of words in English is less than the average for an English speaker of the same age. The Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test is only administered in the Initial Assessment.
MultiLit Word Attack Skills and MultiLit Sight Words Placement Tests
These are curriculum-based assessments for the Word Attack Skills and Sight Words components of the MultiLit Reading Tutor Program. The placement tests provide information regarding appropriate starting points in each part of the program, which are then updated as students move through the program. MultiLit Word Attack Skills teaches phonics skills in a hierarchical skills sequence. MultiLit Sight Words teaches the 200 most common words found in text in 20 groups of 10 words.
SRA Spelling Mastery Placement Test
Spelling Mastery is an SRA program (published by McGraw-Hill) which teaches the four strands of spelling – phonetic, whole word, rule based and morphographic spelling.
MultiLit Book Level
The initial MultiLit Book Level is the Independent Level, estimated based on testing results. During MultiLit programs, a curriculum-based assessment is carried out in order to confirm the appropriate independent book level. A book that is at a student’s Independent Level is a text that a student can read with 95-100% accuracy.