Tag Archives: recording reading progress

Assessing reading comprehension by using multiplication

Are you looking for a simple way to assess your child’s reading comprehension skills?  Take a look at the “Simple View of Reading.”

Although a “Simple View of Reading” (SVR) was proposed in 1986, its simplicity and success make it a useful tool to assess reading comprehension today.  Almost thirty years ago, two researchers, P. Gough and W. Tunmer, suggested that reading includes two primary steps, decoding words (using phonics skills to figure out words) and language comprehension (knowing the meaning of words especially when words are strung together to form sentences).

They represented their Simple View of Reading with a math equation:

Decoding x Language Comprehension = Reading Comprehension

(This formula uses scores from tests in decoding and language comprehension.  For this formula to work, all scores for decoding and language comprehension must be between 0% and 100%.)

What does this simple formula mean?

  • Reading comprehension requires the child to master two areas, decoding words and language comprehension.
  • If a child can do one but not the other, or can do one better than the other, his reading comprehension score will be only as high as the lower of the two other scores.

How can you use this Simple View of Reading to identify your child’s reading comprehension skills or lack of them?

  • First, ask yourself:  Is my child’s reading problem decoding?  Is his problem language comprehension?  Is he having problems in both areas?
  • If you are not sure, test the child in both areas.
  • You can test decoding by having a child read lists of real and nonsense words.  Lists are available online.  Having the child read nonsense words (e.g., zups, thab, slig) is important because some children memorize the look of a word without being able to sound it out.  Also, to assess decoding, don’t use words from a reading passage because the child might figure out a word from the context.  To test decoding, you must remove context.
  • You can also test decoding by reading an unfamiliar passage aloud and asking the child questions about facts, main ideas, sequencing and paraphrasing .  If he can respond accurately when he is the listener, yet he cannot do that when he is the reader, his problem could be decoding.
  • You can test both decoding and language comprehension by having the child read aloud to you.  (If he can pronounce words correctly, or in a few cases, use phonetic pronunciation for unfamiliar words, decoding is not his issue.)  Stop and ask the child what various words mean.  Ask the child to paraphrase a difficult sentence.  Ask the child to paraphrase the passage.  Ask the child to predict what might happen next.  If the child can decode, yet he cannot explain what he has read, his problem is likely language comprehension.  Teachers often see this situation in ESL students who learn the rules of phonics well but whose vocabulary in English is not extensive.
  • To make the evaluation easy, use a scoring method of high, medium, and low based on your own mental tally from working with the child.  If the child scores high in both decoding and language comprehension, he probably does not have a reading comprehension problem.  But if he scores medium or low in decoding or language comprehension, he has a reading comprehension problem.
  • A medium or low score in decoding means he needs more work in phonics.
  • A medium or low score in language comprehension means he needs vocabulary building, work on pronunciation, time listening to a native speaker read a text aloud, and strategies to gain meaning from sentences and passages.

Do you know how many pages a day your child reads?

Research shows that the more pages a student reads each day, the more likely it is that the student will do well on reading tests at school.  Some students will breeze through pages while others will snail-read.  What is important is that they keep reading.  Eventually, the slow reader will read faster if the reading level is appropriate and the genre alluring.

Girl looking at a chart of the number of pages she's read in the week.If you are not sure how much reading your child is doing daily, you might start a chart on which the child logs in the number of pages read after every reading session.  Over several weeks a pattern will emerge, so that you can assess how many pages your child is reading daily.  This can be helpful to get an accurate understanding of your child’s reading.  Sometimes the numbers tell a different story from what we assume.

How many pages are enough?  How many are too little?

Since books vary in the number of words per page, these are questions without solid answers.  But there is a way to find out if your child’s reading is improving.

  • Look up the Accelerated Reader level of the books your child is bringing home from the school media center.  Often books from school libraries have the reading level coded onto the spine or onto a front or back cover.  Your child should be reading books at the reading level appropriate for his skills.  If he is consistently reading books at the same reading level, or moving from one level to a higher level, and the number of pages he reads is increasing, that is a positive clue.
  • If he is reading for about the same amount of time each day (20 to 30 minutes for a kindergartener, 30 minutes for a first grader), and the number of page read is increasing, that is another positive clue.

On the chart you want to see an increase in the number of pages read if the child reads at the same level and for the same amount of time.  Then you can suspect that your child is improving.  But to be sure, ask the child about the story or nonfiction topic.  Ask what the book is about (main ideas).  Ask the child to put the ideas of the story in order (sequencing).  If the child can do that, the child is probably grasping the story line and is improving in his reading skills.

To encourage the child, display the chart prominently, and point out the improvement.  If a child needs external motivation, offer a reward when she reads a certain number of pages a day for a week.  But for many children, just seeing the number go up and the pleasure this brings to you will be enough reward.