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ERIC Number: ED518771
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 15
The Influence of Testing Prompt and Condition on Middle School Students' Retell Performance
Reed, Deborah K.; Petscher, Yaacov
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
The purpose of this study was to improve the utility of retell protocols by more clearly identifying the testing conditions under which students demonstrate better performance. The research questions concern whether the wording of the initial prompt, the inclusion of a follow-up prompt, or the opportunity to silently re-read the passage is related to retell performance. Because retells were scored quantitatively by the percent of pre-determined idea units included, it was hypothesized a prompt asking students to tell everything they remember would be associated with better scores than a prompt asking students to tell what a passage is "mostly about." Furthermore, it was hypothesized that students of various ability levels would have improved retells if provided an opportunity to re-read a passage silently prior to retelling it, rather than delivering their responses immediately following a 1-minute timed oral reading fluency (ORF) component. The original sample included 589 sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders of all ability levels who returned parent permission forms to participate in the study. When scored quantitatively, an initial prompt that asks students to tell everything they remember results in better responses than telling what the passage was "mostly about." Moreover, encouraging students to continue retelling by asking if they remembered anything else, also significantly increases students' scores. Offering addition time to reread a passage silently does not significantly improve retell as compared to retelling immediately after an ORF assessment. The results were similar when considering the number of words students included in their retells. The length of utterance was significantly longer when asked to tell everything and was longer still when encouraged to keep retelling. It seems students considered the initial prompt a literal indicator of what they were to do: either give a succinct "gist" of what the passage was "mostly about" or give as much information as possible. Yet even with the "tell everything" prompt, students did not provide all the information they actually recalled unless they were repeatedly prompted to continue retelling. These are important results given the great amount of variance in the prompts used across retell instruments (Reed, manuscript under review; Reed & Vaughn, manuscript under review). Attempts to synthesize or interpret retell scores from different studies will be problematic if there is not a movement toward greater consistency in the wording and delivery of prompts. An equally compelling finding was the lack of significant differences in the scores of students provided identically worded prompts and follow-up prompting, but a difference in the method of reading prior to retelling. Because retell is being included with ORF progress monitoring instruments (Good & Kaminski, 2010), adding just one minute onto the testing time for each passage can impact the feasibility of using frequently administered measures. The lack of strong correlations between retell and the ORF components of the Texas Middle School Fluency Assessment Assessment (TMSFA) suggest retell is measuring some other skill than what is being captured by ORF (Marcotte & Hintze, 2009; Reed, Vaughn, & Petsher, in press). Therefore, retell has the potential to better inform reading instruction if administered under conditions that preserve instructional time and optimize student performance. Retell Scoring Guide is appended. (Contains 5 tables.)
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Grade 6; Grade 7; Grade 8; Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)
Identifiers - Location: Texas