Issues of Validity and Reliability in Early Reading Assessments
Reading assessments in Grades kindergarten through third (K-3) have become more numerous and important in the past 10 years because research has shown that early diagnosis and remediation of reading difficulties can improve reading achievement (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). The Report of the National Reading Panel (NRP; 2000) identified five essential skills to assess and teach in primary grades: the alphabetic principle, phonemic awareness, oral reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The same five skills were endorsed in the “Reading First” part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (2001) Federal legislation as fundamental in K-3 education. Assessment of these essential skills can inform teachers and parents about children’s strengths and weaknesses and thus provide diagnostic information for appropriate instruction. This is a formative use of assessment data. The same five skills can also be assessed to provide summative evidence of individual progress over time and comparative information about relative achievements of groups of students. New K-3 reading assessments often have both purposes, especially because accountability is a cornerstone of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (2001) legislation.