Back in 2012, I was doing a lot of dyslexia assessments and thought I would share some reflections about reading comprehension. I used WRAT 4 for word recognition and sentence level comprehension, TOWRE2 to get insight into processing visual and auditory patterns at speed and miscue analysis when I wanted something a little more in depth.
I set a “brain teaser” to stimulate discussion about problem solving reading assessment results:
“Mary” came out in the average range for word recognition and comprehension from WRAT. Her score for nonsense words was also just average on the TOWRE (see an earlier post for my views on non-word tests), though her lower score for real words at speed brought her overall word reading efficiency down below average. She read extended text at 142 words per minute and with 98% accuracy, so miscue analysis was not possible, there being so few errors.
The big surprise came when she could only recall 40% of the detail of what she had read. Even more intriguingly, this score did not improve when I read her an equivalent level passage for listening comprehension.
I might have gone along with Kate Cain and said she had a specific problem with comprehension, but on reflection I thought….
Well why don’t I let you think about it and comment back… ? I posted some discussion points and revealed my analysis, but you might want to think about this too, so only “read more” when you have had a think!
Many thanks to Margaret and Marysia for responding to my “brain teaser.” You both have some really interesting thoughts, I agree with Margaret that comprehension can be taught. One of the strategies I devised as part of my research was an approach which I call “strategic reading” – very much about being well prepared and in the frame of mind to notice more things and taking more meaning when you read. I also concur with Marysia that an over concentration on phonics can get in the way of comprehension – both for children (getting the right strategy for reading acquisition is crucial) but also for adults. Another thing I tried in my research was keeping the approach to word attack skills a separate stage from building up fluent reading of a passage.
Anyway, back to “Mary.” She had a particularly low score on the CTOPP digit memory test, so that is a big factor in reading comprehension and also scored low on phonological memory in CTOPP. She also appeared to have problems with concentration, not helped by low self-esteem. Finally, “Mary” did not realise she was experiencing distortions in print. A cerium overlay test showed magenta or turquoise helped put this right and a couple of weeks later she said she was reading much faster with her reading ruler overlay. In summary, though Mary has mastered the mechanics of reading, and is an avid reader of fiction, lots of other things get in the way of her recall and understanding of facts. My conclusion is that Mary’s main areas for improvement are her memory and concentration. Her strength is her fluency in reading and I wouldn’t want to interfere with that.
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