For and of learning assessments: reading professionals' recommendations for essential adolescent comprehension progress monitoring





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This focus group research explores literacy professionals' descriptions of essential reading comprehension progress monitoring assessment to inform instructional decision making for the adolescent reader, grades four through twelve. Biancarosa and Snow (2006) note that approximately eight million adolescents in grades four through twelve struggle to read at grade level, with their most common difficulty being comprehension skills. This research is significant given the large number of students lacking comprehension skills, and the lack of comprehension assessment tools that teachers consider to be useful (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006). Four literacy professional focus groups were conducted, comprised of three participants each. Two focus groups represented literacy leaders, and two represented practitioners. The participants had experience working with adolescent readers, grades four through twelve within the past ten years, and represented diverse districts. The focus group protocol of five key questions, differing only by addressing the leader versus the practitioner perspectives, was designed to elicit information recommendations for essential comprehension progress monitoring assessment to inform comprehension instructional decisions. The research results were organized into two categories: assessments "for" and "of" learning (Tovani, 2011), and revealed 30 assessment types: 13 "for" learning and 17 "of" learning assessments, even though assessments "of" learning are not designed to inform instruction (Tovani, 2011; Stiggins, Arter, Chappuis, & Chappuis, 2006). Notably, close observation with anecdotal notes as comprehension assessment "for" learning received the strongest recommendation. Overarching findings of the research indicated that measuring comprehension is complex, multifaceted, requires multiple "for" and "of" learning assessments, and that professionals remain in search of effective comprehension assessments tools. Future research is needed in the area of continued comprehension progress monitoring assessment research, specifically, observation with anecdotal notes, and higher-order questioning assessment. Future recommendations for leadership action include: professional development and legislative policy revisions in the area of essential "for" learning assessment.

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