Louisiana is making important strides to innovate when it comes to state reading assessments, and Lior Klirs, director of assessment for the Great Minds® Humanities team, shares his insights into what’s happening in the Bayou State in a new Ed Post blog.
Unlike most state reading tests, which ask students to read passages on topics they may or may not be familiar with, Louisiana’s assessment is now aligned to content students learn about in English language arts classes. Specifically, the Louisiana Department of Education, working with assessment developer NWEA and Great Minds, aligned the new tests to reading material in two literacy curricula used in Louisiana schools—Wit & Wisdom® and the Louisiana Guidebooks.
As Klirs explains in the post, “How Louisiana Created a More Equitable Reading Test,” a reading test that is aligned to content students are familiar with is both more equitable and a better measure of how they read.
“Reading tests on unfamiliar passages are a problem because reading comprehension depends, among other things, on background knowledge. If you know something about a topic, you’re more likely to comprehend a related book or article,” writes Klirs.
He explains that unfamiliar passages can make things fundamentally unfair: “When students lack the background knowledge to decipher the vocabulary and basic concepts of reading material or to form inferences to fill in the gaps of what the text leaves unsaid, they will struggle. Students who are lucky enough to have sufficient knowledge about the topics tend to do better.”
Early observations indicate students like knowing the topics, and knowing some of the texts, on the reading assessment. The change is also helping teachers move away from test prep and toward a deeper focus on classroom instruction.
We’re excited to be part of this new approach toward developing higher-quality reading assessments and hope other states move in this direction too. In the end, all kids will benefit from more knowledge-rich experiences.
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Chad brings more than 23 years of experience in communications to Great Minds. He has served in three state education agencies, which included time assisting New Mexico’s secretary of education with the adoption of new education reform initiatives; serving as the communications director at the Washington, D.C., Office of the State Superintendent of Education; and working as an assistant to the Florida Commissioner of Education. Chad also worked at the U.S. Department of Education from 2004 to 2009 and served as the deputy assistant secretary for media affairs and strategic communication during his final two years there. Chad is a native of Bloomington, Ill., and graduated from Florida State University.