Reading Comprehension Tests In K-12 Education Show If Kids Are Retaining Information
Reading Comprehension Tests - We Need Them!
Reading is hard.
It is a skill that a significant number of people do not know how to do correctly, or efficiently. Really, it seems like it should be pretty straight forward if you can speak a language, you should be able to read it, and vice versa. But in actuality, reading involves an entirely different set of abilities in order to do it accurately and to retain lasting information. Many kids tend to have a hard time sitting down and reading—they do not know how, and it is frustrating for them. Which is why K-12 teachers need to know how students are progressing in this important skill and how to better help them.
Formative reading comprehension tests are one of the most commonly used tests in K-12 English classes. This is because they are a fast and convenient way to assess every child’s current reading skills, while also taking stock of the larger classroom at the same time.
Reading Comprehension in Elementary School
Elementary school is where most kids will find a life-long obsession with books, or not. It can come down to their personality but also who is helping them develop the skills they need to be good at reading.
Comprehension tests at this stage are important because they show an early development of understanding with regard to cognition and critical thinking. They should be able to read and recall the information, and in most cases, there is a lot of room for creative exploration as far as the tests go.
For example, some teachers may read aloud during class. The kids are then meant to listen while they read along. During this, they are listening to what is being said and watching the words on the page. In this sense, comprehension tests can start out being more about audio recall and memory—not comprehension.
But in order to test the comprehension of an elementary schooler, you might also try approaching the task with games in mind. Games are well known tools which help kids to learn without much, if any, push back. Further, by using games and literature materials teachers can create cause and effect activities—really putting their kids’ comprehension ability through their paces in a way that will not cause distraction or anxiety for the individual child.
Reading Comprehension in Middle School
By the time they have reached middle school, children will have developed better reading skills, but they will also know if they need help.
That does not mean that they will ask for it though. If anything, less confident children will try to find ways to avoid the subject. This is where skimming the material before class happens most often, instead of reading assigned passages or books.
It’s important to identify these less confident readers and give them the tools they will need for success.
At this stage, kids are often told to find their own books and begin their adventures in literature. Often this culminates in a series of book tests and reports about the books.
However, we should first see if they are retaining information by asking them for synthesis over analysis. This, at first, may seem to be difficult to do. However, to really test understanding of the material can only happen through comparing two reading selections. If we are to insist on letting them read their own choice of books, they should be prompted to synthesize them. The themes being different will only lead to further critical thinking and creativity.
Reading Comprehension in High School
This is where the rubber meets the road for everyone. Some students will have developed a consistent and fruitful relationship with literature, while others will not. All students will need to continue to refine their reading skills, but teachers need to be extra vigilant, and help students with less developed reading skills to make greater strides.
High school is also where longer passage reviews become more common. These reviews are passages of literature that give students the ability to show they understand the nuances of reading the written word. Finding authentic passages that give permission for their use is not always easy, especially in multiple languages, making it difficult to always include in a reading comprehension exam. However, it is a necessary part of the test since it can show just how deeply the student understood the material.
Using multi-part comprehension tests on high schoolers is possibly the best time to do so. They already understand the concepts of cause and effect, and synthesis. So now, they should be able to read at least relatively well and independently so (although college reading will require more changes).
It is within this safe environment, where their comprehension tests should be harder, and more demanding than before. This is what really allows for teachers to test and understand if their kids are really getting the point of the literature, instead of just recalling it, and see if they have become successful readers.