Reading age tests....why?

(39 Posts)
seeker Fri 10-Apr-09 08:45:03

My friend has just emailed me a copy of the reading age test used in her ds's private school, and I am amazed that it is simply a list of increasingly difficult words - just decoding and nothing about knowing what the words mean? And some of the words are very obscure. What's the point of that?

I will, of course, get ds to do it, and if he does well I will tell my friend - if he doesn't I will send a carefully crafted email about what a pointless test it is grin but I am genuinely interested. What was the thinking behind this sort of test and are they still widely used? I don't think they do anything like this at ds's school - or if they do no-one's told me!

ItsMargotBeaurEGGarde Fri 10-Apr-09 08:47:51

My son is bound to be one of the ones who fails that test, and hopefully, as direct consequence of failing it, then be in line for some extra help???

(although he won't be at a private school!)

seeker Fri 10-Apr-09 08:55:53

It's not a pass/fail thing - it just arbitrarily says that this age you should be able to decode this word. I'll link to it if you think it will help at all.

hotcrosspurepurple Fri 10-Apr-09 08:59:34

but reading is about more than being able to "read" a word
surely comprehension is more important?
please link to it
I had a reading age of 18 at 11, I would love to see how badly I do on this one grin

HumphreyCobbler Fri 10-Apr-09 09:00:40

The one they were still using in my school was a contextual one but was so old fashioned one of the correct options was

The parcel was tied up with STRING

Used to confuse the hell out of year two children who would look for the sellotape option.

CompareTheMeerkat Fri 10-Apr-09 09:01:29

I remember a reading test like that when I was at school.

seeker Fri 10-Apr-09 09:06:32

OK, on condition that it's for adult use only,

here with instructions. My friend just sent me the list of words. It doesn't make any more sense to me with the instruction, to be honest.

hotcrosspurepurple Fri 10-Apr-09 09:12:04

I was ok until I got to this one
phthisis

what on earth does that mean and how do you pronounce it? (without covering my keyboard in spit)

seeker Fri 10-Apr-09 09:22:23

Don't know how to say it but it means getting smaller or something like that. I think!

hotcrosspurepurple Fri 10-Apr-09 09:29:23

mr google comes to the rescue
apparently it is also an old name for TB

Just had a quick look, and wondered if Burt Reading Test (1974) means that this was created in 1974, or has it been updated since? I would have thought teaching practices etc. have moved on since then, and that this test is just meaningless.
I agree that reading a word means nothng if you don't know what it means, or how to use it. DS is a pretty good reader, he is 7 years old, but sometimes I stop him when he is reading and ask him what something means, and he doesn't know.

CompareTheMeerkat Fri 10-Apr-09 10:27:17

I#m sure that's the test I did at school smile

seeker Fri 10-Apr-09 10:39:27

I know. I actually checked with my friend when I saw the 1974 on the test, but it's definitely the one they are using. And she's paying megabucks for it!

CompareTheMeerkat Fri 10-Apr-09 10:40:37

I did the test a bit later than 1974 (seem to remember doing it in juniors between 1983 and 1987) but it definitely looks familiar.

edam Fri 10-Apr-09 10:43:34

I had a reading age that was always way ahead of my chronological age. Big deal - by the time you get to adulthood everyone else can read to adult standards too (unless they have specific problems).

No idea what ds's is, school hasn't checked (or told me if they have). I'm happy that he's enjoying books and seems to be doing very well, don't really need someone to tell me his reading age.

islandofsodor Fri 10-Apr-09 10:46:30

Burt reading test is still in use but generally just for teacher's information only.

cornsilk Fri 10-Apr-09 10:47:24

There are different types of reading tests which assess different aspects of reading ability. Single word reading tests assess a child's ability to decode unrelated words. There are also comprehension and reading speed tests. Are you sure the school doesn't assess this seperately?

cornsilk Fri 10-Apr-09 10:48:06

Or even separately blush

seeker Fri 10-Apr-09 10:56:46

It is possible that they do another one as well and she sent me the one that her ds did brilliantly at grin!

cornsilk Fri 10-Apr-09 11:13:17

Ha ha probably!

christywhisty Fri 10-Apr-09 12:24:52

I remember doing the Burt test at primary in 1972 (when I was YR5) and probably prior to that as well, although I always remember the last word as Bibliography.
I am sure they did it at my dc's primary as well.
I would have thought it gives a part of a picture of a child's reading abilities. I had a tutor in for a month to teach ds how to do NVR and she did a "reading experience" test which was fill in the missing word.

roisin Fri 10-Apr-09 13:25:52

Seeker, reading age tests are used extensively in schools, largely because they can be administered by a relatively untrained/inexperienced (cheap) member of staff. They do give some broad brushstrokes information, but not a great deal.

It's not unusual for a 7 yr-old to have an RA of 14, but it doesn't mean a great deal. If they've been taught phonics well and are able to do accurate phonetic decoding, they will score highly.

We now use in school (secondary) a test which gives an age for reading comprehension. It's administered to a whole class at a time, and then marked separately. The responses are multi-choice.

We live in an area of high deprivation. One of the major difficulties we face is many students have very small vocabularies (active and passive), and it's difficult for them to access the curriculum. The Reading Comprehension Test gives us a way of monitoring this.

EachPAQUESPearMum Fri 10-Apr-09 14:21:17

Heheh- we did one of a similar style in school... this is how I had a reading age of 16 when I was 7 wink

Ours had adamant, recind, cannot remember what else... I think it was Edinburgh reading test.

Mine was a very poor bog-standard state school.

snorkle Fri 10-Apr-09 14:36:44

seeker, the really daft thing is that they sometimes use the same test a few terms later to measure improvement. Of course a child remembers the words from the last time, so of course they improve!

piscesmoon Fri 10-Apr-09 14:39:01

They are used in most schools but they are not something that would be told to the parent because, as you say, they are meaningless by themselves-a ten year old may well have a reading age of 14yrs but it isn't any good if they are just decoding and don't have the comprehension to go with it. I see them as good diagnostic tests. For example if the reading age is low, they need extra help. Sometimes problems don't show up normally. I remember one 9 yr old who performed reasonably well in the classroom but it became clear in the test that she had no tools to help her when she came a difficult word and consequently she wasn't enjoying reading because, when reading to herself, she missed out any words that she didn't understand and in some cases lost the plot. She was quite a bright girl-we spent time on a one to one basis looking at how to break up long words and it didn't take her long to get confident-previously she had looked at the word, taken fright and left it!

piscesmoon Fri 10-Apr-09 14:41:28

The one most usually used these days, snorkle, takes that into account and has two different tests-to the same standard.

mimsum Fri 10-Apr-09 14:43:26

as part of ds2's statement we're always told his reading age, his comprehension age and spelling age which are usually all pretty similarly high compared to his chronological age - I wouldn't have thought the reading test in isolation would be that useful?

piscesmoon Fri 10-Apr-09 14:51:43

You would know if he had an IEP. My dyslexic DS had lots of tests with scores-reading age alone isn't very useful. There is no point in knowing if a DC is a fluent reader and in line with, or above their age. You can imagine the posts on here along the lines of 'is my DC G&T because they are only 7 and have a score off the top of the test'! All it means is they are good at decoding-they may not be able to understand the words they decode.

purpleduck Fri 10-Apr-09 15:09:06

I always wonder what "age" it goes up to... Like is a teacher somewhere telling a parent " your child has the reading age of a 31 year old" ?grin

cazzybabs Fri 10-Apr-09 15:18:39

We use reading tests at our school (not the one linked) just to check the children's progress...it is just another piece of the pie. It just highlights children who may be struggling and so we can look at interventions. There comes a point where they are not useful...as the children get older (I think we use them up to about year 4) and in foundation stage. The trouble is you can't really compare different reading tests scores because they test different skills...so they really are not the whole picture. That is why teachers are trainned professionals....we use our professional judgement but sometimes it is nice to have a bit of concrete evidence

mrz Fri 10-Apr-09 15:30:17

I remember doing the Schonell reading test at Primary School very similar to the Burt and equally useless.

roisin I'm looking for a good reading comprehension test for primary school would you recommend the one you use?

seeker Fri 10-Apr-09 17:39:02

I've just got my ds to do it - he came out with a reading age of significantly above his chronological age - but when I asked him what the words meant he got up to only a year over his chronological age!

cazzybabs Fri 10-Apr-09 17:39:55

we do an NFER one which does (or is supposed) to do some comprehension

seeker Fri 10-Apr-09 17:41:36

Just goes to show that decoding is a performing seal trick - it's the comprehension that's important.

cazzybabs Fri 10-Apr-09 17:55:00

well I disagree decoding is very very important without reading is very hard...it is a primary reading skill, comprehension comes later

piscesmoon Fri 10-Apr-09 17:55:12

Which just goes to show why parents don't need them-it is just, as cazzybabs says, another piece of the pie.

mrz Fri 10-Apr-09 18:14:39

We use NFER and while it gives a more accurate picture of a child's reading ability it doesn't really test understanding.

usernametaken Sat 11-Apr-09 10:45:56

The reading tests only show the kids ability to decode words and not their comprehension levels. They can be used to see the progression of the child in phonics but comprehension is far more important. My DD can read everyword on the Burt Test, but she doesn't have a clue what half of the words mean. This gives her a reading age far far higher than her choronological age.
Take the tests with a pinch of salt, the comprehension and enjoyment of a book is far more important.

mistymom Sat 11-Apr-09 19:10:11

Hi at my daughters school they use the Salford reading test. If anybodys got the link to this i would love to see it. Thanks

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