Assessing Reading Comprehension in Young Children

In the past, assessing reading comprehension is all about the administration of some standardized tests via multiple choice test or short paragraph writing. However, reading is the collection of many skills and they require more comprehensive assessment. This article will show you some assessment techniques that can be used by both parents and teachers.

1. Wordless Picture Book Assessment
Under this testing, a wordless picture book will be given to a 5-year old child. What a child needs to do is to take a look at the whole book and tell the story based on his/her own understanding and imagination. Parents or teachers will try to ask some simple questions regarding the story.

Since the ability to tell story correlates strongly with reading comprehension at older ages, this method can be a very useful too. The reason is that it can be done as early as possible and it will provide the early indication if parents need to pay attention to a child's reading ability.

2. Short Video Measures
Another reading comprehension assessment method involving no reading at all is video measures. A child at the age of 4 to 6 years old will be asked to watch a short video about his/her favorite story. After the session ends, a child will be requested to tell the whole story.

The good point of this method is that many parents always let their children watch videos on YouTube. The test is quite easy to administer, parents just ask their children to retell the story to gauge overall reading comprehension. Remeber, storytelling correlates strongly with reading comprehension.

3. Retelling
Retelling can be something as simple as asking a child to read a short story. After that, a child should retell the story and parents may ask some questions to test the actual reading comprehension.

However, this method should be used to test students older than 2nd grade only. The reason is that second graders have a better understanding about noun, pronoun, verb and tense. Using this method in a child younger than 2nd grade will yield false positive.

4. Think Aloud
A reader will be asked to read a short passage aloud. However, he/she will be asked to think out loud too. The benefit of this testing method is that parents or teachers will have the opportunity to understand where in the text a reader doesn't understand and why.

5. Cued Recall
After finishing the reading, many children actually know the story more than what they can retell. This is where Cued Recall method comes in. Inside the nutshell, Cued Recall is a series of questions asked after a child finishes reading. However, each question must contain some related words from the story. So a child will be able to recall the whole story and answer all questions more effectively.

6. Sentence Verification
The assumption behind this method is that people read sentences but they never remember the exact words, just the meanings are extracted from the sentences and stored in memory.

The way to run this test is to ask a child to read a short passage. After that, ask a series of questions. If the question contains the same information as in the passage, a child should say "Old". If the question contains new information not available in the passage, a child should say "New."

7. Miscue Analysis
Under this testing, a child will be asked to read an unfamiliar passage aloud. Parents or teachers will be asked to record reading errors, excluding repetitions and self-corrections.

This test may sound simple to you. But, what you have to do is to analyze the errors by determining if the errors change the meaning of the text OR they are just mispronunciations. By doing this, corrective action can be done more effectively.

Do you think these reading comprehension assessment techniques are useful and why?