Non-words for Test

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yvonne meyer
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Re: Non-words for Test

Post by yvonne meyer » Wed Nov 24, 2010 8:20 am

I'm monitoring the discussion between reading scientists on an Australian forum which has segued into a discussion of the TOWRE as an existing test that could be used instead of writing a new test. I have pasted a comment from Kerry Hempenstall below.
The TOWRE Phonemic Decoding Efficiency (PDE) subtest measures the number of pronounceable printed non-words that can be accurately decoded within a brief timeframe (45 seconds). It has norms from age 6 to 25 years.

These tests add another quality to other non-word tests -- that of fluency of decoding. Fluency provides information beyond mastery, separating those who are accurate, but slow, from those for whom decoding is effortless and automatic. In Stanovich's (2000) view, the rapid decoding of nonwords is one of the best discriminators of good and struggling readers.

Comprehension is disrupted by slow word reading (Perfetti, 1985; Perfetti & Hogaboam, 1975; Perfetti & Lesgold, 1977). Words should be effortlessly identified so that word reading takes up a minimal amount of processing capacity, leaving as much as possible for understanding the text meaning (Bowers & Wolf, 1993; Campton & Carlisle 1994; Joshi & Aaron, 2002; Metsala & Ehri,
1998).

In my experience, students who struggle with non-words but appear adequate in word lists or connected texts - often struggle as more complex and multi-syllabic words appear in their texts.

Elizabeth
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Re: Non-words for Test

Post by Elizabeth » Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:26 am

I think Maggie's point about this is that the test proposed by the English government is for all six year olds, not for children diagnosed with difficulties in reading, whatever the term used.
Elizabeth

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maizie
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Re: Non-words for Test

Post by maizie » Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:47 am

yvonne meyer wrote:The reading scientists that I have spoken to use the term, 'dyslexic' as a descriptive term for someone who has a problem with reading, but do not use this term to describe the underlying cause of the person's reading difficulty. So when Stanovich in the previous quote makes the comment about children who are "phonological dyslexics" (are unaware of speech sounds), I took it to mean that he is not making any presumtions about why these children are unaware of speech sounds, although NBT (never been taught) would, presumably, be the most common reaso
Sorry, Yvonne. I wasn't misunderstanding what you were saying (at least, I don't think I was). It was just that your post raised, for me, a worry that the 'decoding test' could be viewed as a diagnostic test and that if a child were to do badly in it the reason could well be ascribed to a fault within the child (i.e some sort of reading 'disability) rather than poor teaching. I think that this worries me more than the 'non-words' issue.

(P.S. I don't agree with the 'poor fluency equals poor comprehension' theory at all. Most of my 'slow readers' are perfectly well able to insta.ntly understand what they have read I think that there is too much of an obsession with 'comprehension' and that reading researchers have been overinfluenced by it)

Elizabeth
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Re: Non-words for Test

Post by Elizabeth » Wed Nov 24, 2010 10:01 am

I have found the same thing. Children I have taught who decode slowly - no fluency - understand what they have read - as long as they would understand it if it were spoken to them.
Elizabeth

g.carter
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Re: Non-words for Test

Post by g.carter » Wed Nov 24, 2010 10:38 am

Thank you, Yvonne. This is invaluable information to have on tap.

One of the advantages of a simple non-word test is that it brings transparency to the kind of instruction children have been receiving. This is why there is such outrage from the Whole Language lobby. If the DoE flags the reasons for a non-word test on the cover of every 'test ', this could go a long way to demolishing Whole Language arguments, while increasing teacher awareness of the importance of acquiring fundamental skills.

Young children are exposed to all sorts of spellings - signs, ads, graffiti etc. and, not least, they are exposed to poor spelling and grammar from parents and teachers who were 'educated' in a grammar-free, phonics-free time. I really don't think that the odd non-word is going to affect their spelling long-term. One reason why grammar tends to be taught in such a laborious way - the blind leading the blind is the grammar-free culture they inherited.

A very solid basis in SP, followed by an education which encourages a huge amount of reading - for knowledge and for pleasure, introduces a second language, and the flagging up of spelling errors, is surely the main basis for good spelling. One day, all teacher-trainees will get a good basis in SP teaching - an understanding of the alphabetic code - enabling them to apply light-touch phonics in all subject-based areas. But we are where we are and it seems to me what is important is to give young children as strong a basis as possible and then to encourage the freeing up of schools/teachers. More head-battering will only increase the hostility, imo.

kenm
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Re: Non-words for Test

Post by kenm » Wed Nov 24, 2010 11:28 am

maizie wrote:[...] your post raised, for me, a worry that the 'decoding test' could be viewed as a diagnostic test and that if a child were to do badly in it the reason could well be ascribed to a fault within the child (i.e some sort of reading 'disability) rather than poor teaching. I think that this worries me more than the 'non-words' issue.
It is clearly intended as a diagnostic test, but primarily of the teaching that the child has received, so as to guide what it will receive in the future. I don't see any encouragement in the text of the consultation document for the misunderstanding you describe. Considering the present state of the teaching profession as I hear it described, an explicit interdict on the term "disability" might be a good idea.

What it can't do, alone, is measure "value added". That would need another test (vocabulary?, a simpler version of this one?) in the previous year.
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

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maizie
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Re: Non-words for Test

Post by maizie » Wed Nov 24, 2010 12:17 pm

kenm wrote:I don't see any encouragement in the text of the consultation document for the misunderstanding you describe.
I love your innocence, Ken. :grin:

chew8
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Re: Non-words for Test

Post by chew8 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 4:06 pm

It will be difficult for schools to blame faults within the child if it's made know that in schools teaching well no child scores below a certain level, regardless of disadvantage, EAL etc.

Jenny C.

kenm
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Re: Non-words for Test

Post by kenm » Wed Nov 24, 2010 6:00 pm

A worrying feature of the consultation document is the suggestion that choice of remedial methods be left to the teacher. Reading Recovery will try to drive through this door.
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

chew8
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Re: Non-words for Test

Post by chew8 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 6:33 pm

kenm wrote:A worrying feature of the consultation document is the suggestion that choice of remedial methods be left to the teacher. Reading Recovery will try to drive through this door.
I hope not. I think the document makes it reasonably clear that the children who don't make the grade in the screening need the kind of teaching which will help them to catch up in decoding. I hope that even Reading Recovery supporters will realise that it will not do this job well.

In any case, schools which use RR will probably already have put children through it by the end of Year 1, when the decoding test is supposed to happen. Perhaps this will help to show that RR is not good at teaching children to decode.

Jenny C.

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