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ERIC Number: ED498034
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Jul
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Understanding Reading Test Failure: Challenges for State and District Policy. Teaching Quality Policy Briefs. Number 8
Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy
The situation with regards to reading performance in Washington State is similar to that in many other states. Although student performance in reading has improved somewhat over the past four years, too many students continue to fall below state standards. In response to poor test scores and to the outpouring of research on early reading instruction and intervention, the legislature provided extra funds to support beginning reading instruction in K-2 classrooms. While the legislation called for a comprehensive approach to instruction, some public officials and school districts endorsed a focus on phonics, a stance that was consistent with the emphasis in many other states at the time. The situation and response to it begs two critical questions: (1) Does the "solution" fit the problem? and (2) What precisely is the problem? To find out why students fell below standards on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) in reading, more than 100 4th grade students from a diverse semi-urban district participated in a series of individual diagnostic reading assessments. In general, these tests provided information on five major components of reading: word identification, phonemic awareness, comprehension, reading fluency, and vocabulary. Information about students' writing ability, home language, and socio-economic status was also collected. The average scores suggest a particular pattern of student performance--one in which students' performance is slightly below grade level in word identification and substantially weaker in comprehension and fluency. However, average scores obscure important individual student differences. These, along with policy implications, are discussed. [This Brief is based on the following CTP Occasional Paper: Buly, Marsha Riddle and Valencia, Sheila. (2003) "Meeting the Needs of Failing Readers: Cautions and Considerations for State Policy."]
Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy (CTP). University of Washington, Box 353600, Seattle, WA 98195-3600. Tel: 206-221-4114; Fax: 206-616-8158; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education; Grade 4; Grade 5
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Inst. on Educational Governance, Finance, Policymaking, and Management (ED/OERI), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy, Seattle, WA.
Identifiers - Location: Washington
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Washington Assessment of Student Learning