Our intent is to build Reading for Understanding assessments with the following features and characteristics:
- Scenario-based — To date, we have designed dozens of computer-delivered assessment prototypes and hundreds of items. Each assessment uses a scenario-based approach to structure its set of items and tasks — that is, students are given a realistic purpose for reading a collection of diverse materials as they make decisions and solve problems.
- Technology-rich — The materials range from traditional informational texts, fiction and biographies to the kinds of materials that students encounter in technology-rich, multimedia environments. Students might be asked to respond to email, evaluate web sites or post to simulated blogs. To help model and improve reading skills, empirically based reading strategies are incorporated into the assessments.
- A Focus on Collaboration and Communication — Collaboration and communication skills are supported and tested through the use of simulated peers in the assessment. For example, test takers “interact” with simulated peers to identify errors, correct misconceptions and provide feedback on products of learning.
- Meaningful Structure and Sequence — Tasks and activities are structured and sequenced to help scaffold performance for less skilled readers and provide more information on potential student strengths and weaknesses. Performance moderators such as background knowledge and motivation are also measured and can be used to help interpret the reading score.
- Component Measurement — Associated component reading skill tasks (such as word recognition, decoding and vocabulary) have also been developed to further understand or qualify the performance of students who may have basic reading skill difficulties that interfere with comprehension performance.
To view sample items from a GISA design, click the link provided below. The sample items were selected from a GISA assessment developed for sixth-to eighth-grade students. Each item is accompanied by a description of the item, the goal of the item and how it connects to our assessment framework.
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Watch a presentation from ETS's R&D Forum about the Reading for Understanding initiative (Flash, 50:51).