Reading tests can be a useful part a reading program, as long as their aim is to help students become fluent readers who understand what they read. A simple reading test done before a child begins reading has the benefit of placing the child on the appropriate reading level, so that the child does not grow frustrated with lessons that are too difficult, or bored by lessons that are too easy. Reading tests done later along the path of literacy can be used to aid comprehension, even as it assesses it. This helps the child identify his or her strengths, as well as weaknesses.
The most effective reading tests help children assess what they do understand about a text, as well as what they do not understand. This is all done with the aim of a child becoming a fluent reader. Fluency is not just about being able to pronounce printed words on a page; it’s about understanding the content and context of those words. Educators want children to be able read fluently, which is not just about how fast a child reads, but how they are able to show how much they understand, by how they read.
Reading is a complex art—young readers must engage with a text on different levels in order to become adept, fluent readers who understand what they are reading. In order to be able to more fully comprehend what they are reading, students need to understand at the sentence level, the text level, and also at the larger and more over-arching story level. And any effective reading test should assess young readers on each of these levels, so that it is apparent to the parent, teacher, and most importantly, the child, just where they stand on their journey to becoming a fluent reader.
Researchers have found that there is no single comprehension strategy that can adequately assess and also build, or rather, grow comprehension in young readers. Instead there are a number of comprehension strategies that work together to improve a child’s ability to read and understand a text. The most effective comprehension strategies help students do these five things:
Know how much they can comprehend
Students need to monitor their own comprehension when they complete activities and reread previously read texts, but which are shown to them in an incomplete format. This encourages students to use their memories and also to search the text for meaning (including perhaps the missing meaning). In these activities, students have to understand what they read in order to be able to correctly complete the texts.
Use graphic organisers
At the sentence level, students are regularly regularly asked to recreate sentences that have become muddled—putting them in order to make the text a meaningful and logical. This activity focuses students on the syntactical structure of a sentence and how it is put together to make sense.
At the text level, students need to answer questions about text in order to learn more about what they have read.
Students show that they understand a text not just by being able to answer questions about a text, but also to generate questions about the text. Asking questions, such as ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘why’, and ‘how” helps readers get meaning out of a text.
Recognise story structure
Students learn about story structure by completing sequencing activities and being able to reorder stories into their correct order.
ABC Reading Eggs uses all five of the strategies list above as a means of testing and assessing the reading ability of the student but also to provide opportunities for students to be able to assess their own level of reading comprehension.
ABC Reading Eggs begins by offering a reading test that places students on a level appropriate to their ability. Later reading tests help readers know how much they understand. ABC Reading Eggs also offers readers the opportunity to create their own stories. Writing stories within the ABC Reading Eggs Factory helps students learn about the structure of stories, and also shows parents their child’s progress in their understanding of story structure by the stories that the child writes. As the child’s ability improves, the stories develop more depth.
ABC Reading Eggs uses a variety of comprehension strategies that are used both as a means of reading test of sorts, as well as a means of encouraging greater comprehension of a text. After every 10 lessons, students complete a 20-question, multiple-choice assessment test which, if they pass, rewards them with a printable certificate with their name, at either a bronze, silver, or gold level, depending on their score. This type of reading test rewards students by recognising their academic accomplishments, which motivates students to continue their work toward becoming better readers.
I believe that Reading Eggs is an exciting, on-line reading program that engages students fully and ensures that they have fun while they are learning to read. It is simple to use, caters to all students and makes learning to read FUN. Well done! Ann Forbes, Glenmore State School
The program is excellent and we were delighted that our daughter learnt to read in less than six months and was way ahead of her peers in Kindergarten when assessed. We are always recommending it to other parents. Thanks! Angela