Reading for Understanding: How Performance Moderators and Scenarios Impact Assessment Design

O'Reilly, Tenaha; Sabatini, John P.
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ETS Research Report
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Subject/Key Words:
Academic Motivation Reading for Understanding (RFU) Reading Assessment Metacognition Global, Integrated, Scenario-based Assessment (GISA) Reading Strategies Self-Regulation Reading Comprehension Background Knowledge


This paper represents the third installment of the Reading for Understanding (RfU) assessment framework. This paper builds upon the two prior installments (Sabatini & O’Reilly, 2013; Sabatini, O’Reilly, & Deane, 2013) by discussing the role of performance moderators in the test design and how scenario-based assessment can be used as a tool for assessment delivery. Performance moderators are characteristics of students that impact reading performance but are not considered a part of the reading construct. These include (a) background and prior knowledge, (b) metacognitive and self-regulatory strategies and behavior, (c) reading strategies, and (d) student motivation and engagement. In this paper, we argue there is added value in incorporating performance moderators into a reading test design.We characterize added value with respect to the validity of the claims derived from test scores, the interpretation of the test scores, and the relevance to instruction. As a second aim, we present a case for using scenario-based assessments and how they can be used to integrate into the test design both the performance moderators as well as other features that make the assessment more instructionally relevant.

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