NRRF - Reading Competency Test

Reading Competency Test

How well is your child reading? Print out The National Right to Read Foundation's Reading Competency Test and find out today. To improve reading skills, choose a product from Phonics Products for Home or Phonics Products for School.

The First Step Towards Literacy
Background for Parents and Teachers
How to Give the Test
How to Interpret the Results
Phonics is the Answer

The First Step Towards Literacy

You have taken the first step towards literacy by deciding to take the Reading Competency Test. Everyone should be able to read what they can talk about and understand. The Reading Competency Test is a simple, reliable, valid test developed by Dr. Patrick Groff for The National Right to Read Foundation. It will help you determine if your child, or someone you love is missing out on the most important part of schooling, learning to read.

The National Right to Read Foundation was established in 1993 to encourage schools to return to the direct teaching of intensive, systematic phonics in every first-grade classroom in America. Scores of reading research studies have been done over the past seventy-five years that prove phonics is an essential first step in learning to read. We know that without intensive phonics instruction, many children will remain handicapped readers for life.

For most of America’s history, everyone who went to school learned to read. But about sixty years ago, many teachers, professors of education and publishing companies rejected common sense and many years of successful teaching practice and adopted the “look and say” method of teaching reading, now called “whole language.” The result has been a disaster for millions of children, who are now labeled dyslexic, or learning disabled, but whose only problem is that they haven’t been taught to read.

One way The National Right to Read Foundation is helping expose the terrible tragedy of illiteracy is to give wide exposure to this Reading Competency Test. The only way we can determine the true literacy rate in America is with a reliable, valid test of reading ability. Once you know the truth then steps can be taken to fix the problem.

If you or your loved ones have difficulty passing this test, then you need to take remedial action immediately. An intensive, systematic phonics program you can use at home may be just the help you need. Remember, teaching someone to read can be one of the most rewarding experiences you can ever have. It is our hope that this simple Reading Competency Test will awaken the American people, so that together we can restore reading practices to our schools that will make America once again, the most literate nation on earth.

Background for Parents and Teachers
by Dr. Patrick Groff

Dr. Patrick Groff, Professor of Education Emeritus, San Diego State University, has published over 300 books, essays, and journal articles and is a nationally known expert in the field of reading.

The National Right to Read Foundation is offering an easy-to-administer test of reading abilities that can be given to students or adults. The Reading Competency Test is written so that anyone can administer it and gain independent information about the reading abilities of individuals who read poorly.

The Reading Competency Test is modeled after what is known as the “Informal Reading Inventory” (IRI). The IRI originated in the 1940’s as a quick and relatively simple way for classroom teachers to determine how well their students were reading grade-level written materials. Its use has been proved satisfactory since the IRI has been found to be both a reliable and a valid means to discern how well students can read materials at different grade-levels of difficulty.

Its reliability has been demonstrated repeatedly. Anyone who carefully follows the uncomplicated directions when scoring it will obtain the same scores for a student as does any other administrator of the test. The same is true for the Reading Competency Test.

The IRI also is a valid test. The IRI presents samples of reading text at different grade levels of difficulty to determine whether a student is reading at an (1) independent, (2) instructional, or (3) frustration level. The Reading Competency Test follows these same procedures.

These testing procedures have been validated by comparing them with IRI scores gained in earlier days and with scores of widely-used standardized reading tests. There have been significant positive correlations obtained between the two sets of scores. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that the test procedures used by the IRI, and by the Reading Competency Test, are valid ones.

The Reading Competency Test also is a valid test of how well students or adults apply phonics information to the recognition of written words. In this regard, the Test presents specially-written groups of sentences for students or adults to read which contain carefully selected words. These special words were selected because they can be decoded successfully by the application of certain, discrete phonics rules. It was then determined which phonics rules the nation’s experts in phonics teaching indicate that students learning to read must learn. The ability to apply all these recommended phonics rules is tested in the Test. It thus is a valid examination of an individual’s ability to apply crucial phonics information to read words and sentences. The Test is a unique diagnostic tool to determine what phonics skills students and adults still need to learn.

The Test is not intended to displace the standardized reading tests. Rather it is designed to provide special information about reading skills that usually are not reported to parents or the public by the schools. The information about reading abilities gained from the Test will add to the information parents presently can gain from the schools. The Test is particularly useful for examining the reading skills of adults who read poorly. Many adults have no recent records of their general reading skills, or how well they can read grade-level designated materials, or apply phonics information.

Parents who administer the Reading Competency Test may find that report-card grades are higher than the reading scores on the Test. There are at least three possible reasons for this discrepancy.

First, a report card grade represents the teacher’s personal, subjective opinion of a child’s reading performance. Unfortunately, there is a tendency among today’s teachers to give inflated grades in reading.

Second, the teacher who gives an inflated grade in reading may have based this decision in part on the child’s previous score on a standardized reading test. Regrettably, many publishers adjust the grade-level norms on their tests to obtain higher average student scores. In many cases today, no large body of students given a certain standardized test will score below the average. In other words, such a standardized test no longer is a legitimate indicator of the relative abilities of children to read well.

Third, the U.S. Department of Education recently reported that it has found that 48 percent of American adults are “functionally illiterate.” Many adults who read poorly, doubtless had been given good marks for reading on their report cards. It certainly is not true that 48 percent of students receive Ds or Fs in reading on their report cards. It seems clear, then, that schools have given inflated grades in reading for years.

Considering these facts, it is the position of The National Right to Read Foundation that the Reading Competency Test will more accurately reveal true reading abilities than do some report card grades, or the scores of many modern standardized reading tests.

How to Give the Test

Part 1 of the test consists of eight groups of sentences (A-H) that contain phonetically regular one-syllable words. It will help you determine how well the student knows phonics.

Part 2 consists of six paragraphs taken from the middle part of school readers, grades 1-6, that were in wide use 100 years ago—a time when children were taught to read with intensive, systematic instruction in phonics. Each paragraph represents material that anyone who has been properly taught should be able to read and comprehend within their grade level. Keep in mind that grade-level 6 is equivalent to high-school level reading today.

Print two copies of the Reading Competency Test. Have the student read aloud in his copy from the sentences and paragraphs. As you listen, make a check mark in your copy each time the student 1) Skips a word, 2) Substitutes a different word, even though it may have similar meaning, 3) Inserts a non-related word, or 4) Mispronounces a word (if the student corrects the mispronunciation, remove the check). Stop if the student receives four or more checks in any one group in Part 1, or five or more checks in any one paragraph in Part 2. To continue would only add to the student’s sense of frustration.

How to Interpret the Results

Analyze each group of sentences in Part 1 and Part 2 separately. Use the following guidelines for Part 1: Independent = 1 check mark; Instructional = 2 to 3; Frustration = 4 or more. Use the following guidelines for Part 2: Independent = 1 check mark; Instructional = 2 to 4; Frustration = 5 or more.

If the student has completed the second grade and cannot read all the sentences in Part 1 with one check or less in each group, the student is in need of remedial phonics instruction. Likewise if the student cannot read at an independent level at his or her current grade level, the student is in need of remedial phonics instruction.

Phonics is the Answer

If the student does not score well on the Reading Competency Test, it does not mean that he or she is dyslexic, or has a learning disability, or that he or she is of inferior intelligence. It does mean that he or she has not been taught to read with intensive, systematic phonics.

To improve reading skills, take the Reading Competency Test, then choose a product from Phonics Products for Home or Phonics Products for School.

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The National Right to Read Foundation
P.O. Box 560
Strasburg, VA 22657

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