ERIC Number: EJ1046196
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 64
Assessing Early Grade Reading: The Value and Limits of "Words per Minute"
Graham, Barbara Elaine; van Ginkel, Agatha J.
Language, Culture and Curriculum, v27 n3 p244-259 2014
Primary school enrolment in low-income countries has increased in recent years. The quality of education is, however, still a cause for concern. Better measurement of early reading progress has been suggested as a means of improving education quality. Benchmarks based on the number of 'words per minute' (WPM) students are able to read correctly have been proposed as a basis for assessment and comparison, even where languages and orthographies differ. This paper explores the extent to which WPM benchmarks, based mainly on research with native English speakers, are appropriate for cross-language comparisons. A quantitative study of early grade reading in two European (English and Dutch) and two African languages (Sabaot and Pokomo) analysed WPM and comprehension scores of over 300 children in three countries. Results indicate that similar comprehension scores were associated with diverse WPM rates. This suggests that WPM is not a reliable comparative measure of reading development since linguistic and orthographic features can differ considerably and are likely to influence the reading acquisition process. We argue that a good understanding of the languages of literacy (L1 and/or other) and their effects on reading acquisition are essential to the quest for quality education.
Descriptors: Elementary School Students, Statistical Analysis, African Languages, Reading Comprehension, Scores, Correlation, English, Indo European Languages, Benchmarking, Educational Quality, Contrastive Linguistics, Reading Rate, Native Language, Literacy, Reading Tests, Language Minorities, Language Attitudes, Foreign Countries
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Kenya; Netherlands; United Kingdom (England)