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NewGroupReadingTest

Sentencecompletionandpassagecomprehensioninasingletest
Theprocess ofdevelopingtheNewGroupReadingTest(NGRT) beganbyaskingteachersfor
theirviewson GRT2 andthechangestheywouldlike.GRT2waswellestablishedandvalued
anditwaspossibletotestsentenceandcontinuousprosereadingbutonlybytestingtwice,
whichalargenumberofteachersdid.Itseemedsensibletocombinetheseaspectsof
readinginasingletestwhichwouldallowadirectcomparisontobemadeforeverypupil.
Thiswouldofferincreaseddiagnosticvaluefromthetest,whichmanyteacherswanted,
whileretainingstraightforwardadministrationandscoring.
The NewGroupReading Test providesan age standardised score fromthetest asawhole
which givesthemostaccurateandreliableindicationofapupilsreadingability.However,it
ispossibletolookatsubscalescoresforeachsectionofthetestinordertodetermineif
pupilshaveparticularareasofstrengthorareasforfurtherdevelopmentintheirreading
skills.
The scores forthe subscalesarepresentedusing stanines ratherthanagestandardised
scores.Staninesminimisetheoverinterpretationofsmall,insignificantdifferencesamong
testscores. Asaroughguide, ifthesubscalestaninesarethesameordifferbyone,this
indicatessimilarperformanceonthetwosubscales.Ifthestaninescorediffersbytwoor
more,itmaybeanindicationofsignificantlydifferentperformanceonthetwosectionsof
thetest. (However, with veryloworveryhighrawscores,evensmallchangesintheraw
scorehavealargeimpactonthestaninescore.Forexampleinasentencecompletion
sectionwith20itemstwopupilsofthesameagescoring18outof20and20outof20
respectivelycouldhavestaninescoresof7and9respectively.Thenotionofregressionto
themeanapplieshere:ifapupilobtainsaveryhigh(orverylow)scoreinonesection,they
arelikely,simplybychance,togainalower(orahigher)scoreinthe othersection.Thisis
reflectedinasymmetricconfidenceintervals.)
Therefore itisimportanttorecognisethatany significantdifferencesinthetwosubscale
scoresmayonlybeindicativeofadifferenceinperformance andwouldbenefitfrom
furtherinvestigation.ForexampletheSuffolkReadingScale(SRS)couldbeusedtoconfirm
pupilsreadingabilityatsentenceleveland the YorkAssessmentofReadingComprehension
(YARC) couldbeusedtoconfirmtheirabilityinreadingcomprehension.
Sentencecompletion
Thesentencecompletion sectionoftheNGRTassesses pupils reading skills at sentence
level.Theseskillsare slightlydifferentto those usedwhenreadingawholetextand
answering retrievalandinferentialquestions about that text. Inthesentencecompletion
itemspupilshavemuchlesscontextual informationtouseinordertodeterminethemissing
word.Thereforepupilswhorelyheavilyoncontextualcuestodrawevensimpleinferences
mayscorelesswellonthissectionoftheNGRT. Thelackofcontextualcues will meanthat

pupilshavetorelymoreheavilyontheirwordknowledge(vocabulary)inorderto
successfullyanswerthemoredifficultsentencecompletionitems wherethevocabularymay
beconsideredchallengingforpupilsinthatagerange.Thereforepupilswithamore
extensivevocabularymayperformbetteronthesentencecompletionitems.
Insentencecompletionitemsthepupils also needtorelymoreheavilyonsyntacticcues
(thestructureofasentence) andtheirownknowledgeofgrammaticalfeatures when
decidingwhichofthefivepossibleoptionsbestcompletesthesentence. Someofthe
distractorsthatareusedinthesentencecompletionitemshavebeenchosenastheyare
semantically (in meaning) orgraphically (in writtenform) similartothetargetword;
howeverusinganyofthesedistractorswouldmakethesentencegrammatically incorrect.
Thereforethepupilisrequired to read boththesentenceandallfiveoftheansweroptions
verycloselyinordertodeterminethecorrectanswer.
Althoughpupilsneedtobeabletomakesinglelocalinferencesinordertoanswerthe
sentencecompletionquestionstheydonotneedtoemployanyofthemorecomplexglobal
inferencingskillsrequiredinthepassagecompletionsectionofthe test.Thereforeapupil
whohasdifficultyunderstandinglongertextsormakingcomplexinferencesmayperform
significantlybetteronthesentencecompletionsectionoftheNGRT.
Ifapupilobtainsanunexpectedscore,forexampleascorethatissignificantlydifferent
fromthescoretheyachieve inthepassagecomprehensionsectionofthetest,teachersmay
wanttoexaminethepupilsscriptandlookattheirresponsepatterns.Thiswillhelpidentify
areasthatthepupilsfindsdifficultandthatneed tobetargetedfordevelopment.For
example, dothey needtodoadditional orallanguagework inordertodeveloptheir
vocabularyorworkongrammarandsentenceconstruction throughacombinationoftasks.
Ifthereisnoclearresponsepattern, teachers maywanttocheckthatthescoreachievedby
thepupilreflectstheirtrueabilityinsentencecompletionandisnottheresultofany
externalfactors.InthesecasestheteachercouldusetheSRStoretestthepupil.
Passagecomprehension
Inthepassagecomprehensionsectionpupils needtouse avarietyofreadingskillsto read
uptofourpassagesandansweranumberofquestionsoneachpassage. Inreadingand
answeringthetextspupilsareexpectedtomakeglobal aswellaslocal inferences.Eachtext
isaccompaniedbyarangeofitemtypes including:

Contextcomprehension
Retrieval
Inferenceanddeduction
Organisationoftexts
Writersuseoflanguage
Writerspurposeandviewpoints
Social,culturalandhistorictradition.

Thescorespupilsobtain onthissectionofthetestare influencedbytheirabilityacrossa


widerangeofreadingskills.

Pupilswhoareverygoodatdecodingbutpooratinferenceanddeductionmayobtaina
significantlylowerstaninescoreonthissectionofthetest. However,ifthereisaverylarge
differencebetweenthestaninescoresinthis directionitisimportant lookatthepupilstest
scriptand investigatewhetherthepupilreachedtheendofthetestorwhetherthescore
theyobtained was basedon fewerpassages either becausetheyranoutoftime or because
they inadvertently omitted apassage. Ifthisscoreisunexpectedandnottheresultofthe
pupil runningoutoftimeoromitting a passage theteachermaywanttolookattheir NGRT
testbookletindetailin ordertofindoutiftheirresponsepatternshighlightaparticulararea
ofdifficulty.
Earlyfeedbackfromteachersisthatthemajorityofpupilswillachievescoresthatare within
oneortwo stanines:forexample2:3or7:6andforexceptionallygood readers9:8 or7:9.It
islikelythatjustasmallnumberofpupilswillneedadditionalinvestigationasindicated
abovebutthisaspectofNGRTnowenablesscreeningandprogresstrackingforlargegroups
ofpupils and moremeaningfulindividualprofilingfromasingletest.
Example
Ryanwas11yearsand5monthswhenhetookTest3A.Hisrawscoreforsentence
completionwas12/20andforpassagecomprehension26/32.ThisgaveRyanastandard
scoreforthewholetestof111;astanineof4forsentencecompletion;astanineof7for
passagecomprehension.
Ryanencountereddifficultyinsentencecompletionastheitemsbecamemoredifficultand
dependenton moresophisticated vocabulary and theabilitytodifferentiatebetweenwords
thataresimilarbothsemanticallyandgraphically.Forexample:
Thechairmanhadto__________inthedebate.
Ryanchose implicate ratherthan intervene.Likewise:
The______juroracceptedthebribefromthedefendant.
Thecorrectoption, dishonest waspassedover for discriminated.
However,Ryanknewthemeaningof misconstrued (ignoringothersimilar distracters)so
hisperformanceisalittleuneven.
ItisclearthatRyanbenefitsfromcontextualcuesprovidedbyan extendedtext,whether
fictionornonfiction.Hislowestscorewasfor WindintheWillows butoverallhewasable
toanswerquestionsofalltypesverywell.
Ryanneedstoworkonreadingaccuracytoensurethathecandiscriminatebetweenwords
thatlookthesameorhaveaclosebutnotidenticalmeaningandwouldbenefitfrom
extendinghisvocabularyalittlemore,probablythroughreadingforpleasureratherthan
directinstruction.