chapter  16
26 Pages

Dimensions Affecting the Assessment of Reading Comprehension

WithDavid J. Francis, Jack M. Fletcher, Hugh W. Catts, J. Bruce Tomblin

The assessment of reading comprehension has a long and storied history in educational research (Pearson, 1998). There are multiple approaches to the assessment of reading comprehension, reflecting the evolution of theory and pedagogical shifts in reading education and assessment. The recent report of the Rand Reading Study Group (2002) identified three broad categories that represented the outcomes of reading comprehension. The outcomes were as follows: (a) knowledge, which involves successful comprehension of the content, integration of new content with previously stored information, and critical evaluation of the information; (b) application, which represents the utility of content when it is applied to practical problems and tasks; and (c) engagement, which reflects involvement with the ideas, experience, and style of the text. It is clear that the assessment of reading comprehension is multidimensional. Yet many contemporary assessments of reading comprehension involve only the assessment of content knowledge. Comprehension of print that addresses the integration and evaluation of the information is infrequently assessed. Even rarer are assessments that address application or engagement.