Reading Success Lab
Phone 877-286-2801

 More Information about the Reading Success Lab Products

Assessment Products for Educators and Tutoring Centers

The Reading Success Lab school and tutoring center assessment products serve several purposes: First, the products provide information that allows educators and tutors to identify the source of a reading problem.  Second, the software provides a detailed report that can be shared with parents and that can become part of a student’s academic record.  Third, the assessment products provide a means of keeping close track of the progress a child is making in learning to read.  This progress tracking capability is valuable in tracking Response to Intervention (RTI) and in meeting requirements for data driven decision making.  The software can be loaded onto individual computers or it can be configured to run on a network serving a classroom, tutoring center, school, or even an entire school system.

Identifying reading problems
Our reading assessment software is based on two related facts about reading.  The first fact is that reading involves a hierarchy of skills that at the lowest level involves the recognition of letters and at the highest level involves the ability to comprehend sentences, paragraphs and entire books. 
The second fact is that skilled reading has to involve very fast (automatic) and accurate recognition of letters and words.  If a reader has to think about what a letter or a word is, reading comprehension will be difficult and laborious. 

These facts about reading contributed to the design of our assessment software which measures both the speed and accuracy of a range of reading skills. 

Assessment for kindergarten and first grade children
Our assessment software for kindergarten and first grade children measures:

  • Simple perceptual ability
  • Letter recognition
  • Phonological awareness

(see the Reading Information section on the Main Menu for more information about these skills)

Many of our tasks are completed by having a reading event (e.g., a letter, word or sentence) appear on the screen and the reader responds by speaking the letter, word, etc out loud.  The computer records the time between the appearance of the event on the screen and the reader’s response. This provides a very accurate measure of the speed with which the reader can perform a reading task. You may use a microphone to detect how long it took for the person to respond. An alternative to the microphone is the use of a SPACEBAR press as the person speaks his/her answer. A person working with the reader then scores the reader’s response for accuracy. The scorer need not be a trained professional. The software assists in the scoring by permitting the scorer to listen to the correct response before registering whether the student response was correct or not. Frequently the scorer can be an aide, volunteer, or even another student who is capable of judging the correctness of a response when listening to the correct response.

When a kindergarten or first grade reader completes the assessment tasks (this takes less than an hour) a report is generated that indicates whether the child is at risk for developing a reading problem.  If the child is at risk, the report provides recommendations for intervention activities that can lessen the risk of developing a reading problem. (see PDF example of a report)

Assessment for grade 3 to grade 8 children
Our assessment software for children in grades 3 to 8 also uses responses made by the student to provide speed and accuracy measures for several reading tasks.  The tasks the software measures are:

  • Simple perceptual ability
  • Letter recognition
  • Word recognition
  • Non-word (e.g., plok) recognition
  • Activation of the meaning of words
  • Sentence understanding
  • Listening comprehension (adjusted for grade level)
  • Reading Comprehension (adjusted for grade level)

After a full assessment (completed in approximately 1-2 hours which can be spread over several sessions) our software generates a comprehensive report that indicates whether the child is a good reader, an average reader, a poor reader, a reader who is likely to have a reading disability (dyslexia), or an inconsistent reader who may have an attentional disorder.  The report also provides recommendations for strengthening weak reading skills and it suggests additional steps the parent might take if a reading problem is present.  (see PDF example of a report)

Assessment for grade 8 to adults
Our assessment software for older children and adults contains the same tasks as the software for children in grades 3 to 8, though the difficulty of the reading material in each of the tasks is more complex in the assessments for older children and for adults.  As is the case for grade 3-8 children, the software for older children and adults provides a comprehensive report that identifies the nature of a reading problem and provides recommendations for strengthening weak reading skills.

Tracking reading progress

The second purpose for our reading assessment software is to track reading progress.  Our software provides an objective and very sensitive way of tracking improving reading skills.  When a reassessment is administered the software randomly samples from a large pool of potential test items.  This allows reassessments to occur as frequently as once per week using a subset of the tasks that are completed in a full reading assessment.   The tasks most commonly used to track improvements in reading skill are:

  • Word recognition
  • Non-word recognition
  • Activation of word meanings
  • Sentence understanding

The results of these tracking assessments are provided in tabular or graphic form and reported in terms of accuracy, speed, or grade equivalent percentile.  Below you will see an example of re-assessments of word recognition graphically reported as grade level percentiles. 

In addition, the results can be printed and shared with parents and can become part of the student’s academic record.  Results from reassessments are also very useful in determining whether the reading interventions being used are effective.

Intervention Products for Educators and Tutoring Centers

     
Many children who have difficulties in reading are slow and/or inaccurate at the rapid identification of words.  Our Skill Builder interventions are designed to make readers fast and accurate at identifying words.  When word recognition becomes automatic, comprehension improves and reading is much easier.  Problem readers who develop automatic reading skills often discover that they enjoy reading.  Our intervention software does not use phonics based procedures and has proven to be effective with children who have not made good progress using phonics procedures.
The skill building process involves the use of a software engine called the Skill Builder Module and intervention sets.  Each intervention set typically involves three levels of practice material with each level consisting of 160 practice words (total of 480 words).
The following intervention sets are currently available for purchase and additional intervention sets are under development:

  • Letter Recognition
  • Word families (suitable for kindergarten and grade 1)
  • Grade 1
  • Grade 2
  • Grade 3
  • Grade 4
  • Grade 5
  • Grade6
  • Grade7
  • Grade 8
  • Content area sets in areas like social studies and sciences

A practice session using our Skill Builders involves the following set of events:

  • A teacher, tutor, or even the child chooses an intervention set and selects the number of pages in a set to be practiced and how the words are to be displayed on the computer screen.

  • A page of words then appears (typically 40 words) on the screen.  The reader then looks at the words and uses the mouse to click on any word that he or she might not know.  The computer then pronounces the word.

  • When the child finishes clicking any words that might not be known the program advances to the same page of words but now all of the words are grayed out except one.  The reader then says the highlighted word and hits the space bar which advances the highlight to the next word.  If a word is missed, the person working with the child clicks the right mouse button.  Materials can be practiced by the child alone, but progress is fastest if someone scores the accuracy of responses for the child.

  • When the first page of words has been completed a screen appears that shows the words again, but with the words that were missed highlighted on the screen.  The reader is encouraged to click on missed words so that he or she can hear them correctly pronounced.

  • This procedure continues for each page of words that have been selected for practice.

  • After all words have been practiced a graph appears that shows the accuracy and speed (typically provided in seconds per page) for naming the words.  This graph plots each practice session using the intervention set and the reader and those that are working with him or her immediately can see the improvement associated with practice.

  • As practice proceeds, the computer monitors improving speed and accuracy and uses a formula (involving a combination of speed and accuracy) to calculate when the reader has mastered the set of practice materials. 

  • When a child has mastered an intervention set the computer provides a message that the speed and accuracy of word recognition for that set is excellent, and the reader should move on to the next practice set.

  • Words that have been repeatedly missed over practice sessions are identified by the program and practice on those words is provided before practice of the set as a whole occurs.

  • The graphs and tables generated from practice sessions can be printed out and shared with parents and can become part of the student’s academic record.

  • The software can be set up to calculate summary statistics for varying groups of children ranging from a classroom to a school system.

Educators can Custom Design Assessment and Intervention Materials

Our Designer Module is a user friendly program that allows educators and tutors to develop assessments or interventions based on materials that are directly relevant to local curriculum concerns and to a reader’s reading needs.  Here are several examples of custom developed assessments generated by teachers or tutors:

  • Assessments of material drawn from graded reading texts.  Performance on the assessments can be used to place the student with material of the appropriate difficulty level
  • Assessments of grade level vocabulary lists drawn from statewide curriculum standards
  • Assessments that provide both accuracy and speed information on teacher or tutor generated materials that have particular value for the teacher or tutor
  • Assessment that provide beginning and end of year performance on reading tasks using local curriculum materials

Here are several examples of custom developed Skill Builder interventions generated by teachers or tutors.  These interventions can be used to develop automaticity of practice materials:

  • New vocabulary in required textbooks derived from the subject matter index of the books
  • New vocabulary mandated for grades in statewide standards
  • Spelling lists
  • Vocabulary lists for statewide testing programs or for ACT or SAT preparation
  • Foreign language word recognition

Sometimes teachers or tutors may want to develop materials that combine assessments and interventions.  Here are some examples of this activity:

A vocational student is studying for licensure as a plumber

  • The teacher or tutor creates assessment materials based on the content of plumbing manuals
  • The teacher or tutor develops Skill Builder intervention materials based on terms and vocabulary found in plumbing instructional materials
  • An initial assessment provides a baseline against which progress can be evaluated
  • The student uses the customized Skill Builder to develop fluent reading of plumbing terms
  • Re-assessments indicate when the material has been mastered

A ninth grade student is having difficulty reading a biology text

  • The teacher or tutor creates assessment materials based on material found in the subject matter index of the biology textbook
  • The teacher or tutor develops Skill Builder intervention materials based on terms and vocabulary found in the subject matter index
  • An initial assessment provides a baseline against which progress in mastery of the biology material can be evaluated
  • The student uses the customized Skill Builder to develop fluent reading of biology terms
  • Re-assessments indicate when the material has been mastered

A tenth grade student is preparing for the SAT test

  • The teacher or tutor creates assessment materials based on SAT study materials
  • The teacher or tutor develops Skill Builder intervention materials based on the study materials
  • An initial assessment provides a baseline against which progress in mastery of the SAT material can be evaluated
  • The student uses the customized Skill Builder to develop fluent reading of the SAT vocabulary study terms
  • Re-assessments indicate when the material has been mastered

A fourth grade student is having difficulty with spelling

  • The teacher or tutor creates assessment materials based on spelling lists
  • The teacher or tutor develops Skill Builder intervention materials based on the spelling lists
  • An initial assessment provides a baseline against which progress in mastery of the spelling lists can be evaluated
  • The student uses the customized Skill Builder to develop fluent reading of the spelling terms.  This in turn facilitates the ability to spell the words
  • Re-assessments indicate when the material has been mastered

Use of the Designer Module

When a teacher or tutor creates a customized assessment or intervention using the Designer module they go through the following steps:

  • Select the development or either an assessment or a Skill Builder intervention
  • Select whether they want to use an existing assessment or skill builder as a template or create a new assessment or skill builder from the beginning
  • Name the assessment or skill builder they are creating
  • Enter instructions for the assessment or skill builder they have created
  • Enter the content for the assessment or skill builder into an easy to use template
  • If a skill builder is being created, make a recording (using a simple to use recording device) of the words that are being entered into the skill builder
  • Save the new assessment or skill builder intervention

The newly created assessment or skill builder will then appear in the drop down menu of the Assessment Module or the Skill Builder Module, depending on whether an assessment or skill builder has been created.

 

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