Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Education Research Report: Reading Skills of Fourth-Graders Performing Below NAEP Basic

Education Research Report: Reading Skills of Fourth-Graders Performing Below NAEP Basic
Reading Skills of Fourth-Graders Performing Below NAEP Basic

Results from the 2018 NAEP Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) study show, for the first time, that fluent reading of text can be a major challenge for many fourth-grade public school students who perform below NAEP Basic on the NAEP reading assessment. This study was administered to a nationally representative sample of over 1,800 fourth-graders from 180 public schools. Students read two types of text out loud: (1) short passages to assess their oral reading fluency (the ability to read text aloud with appropriate speed, accuracy, and expression); and (2) word lists to assess their foundational skills, word recognition, and phonological decoding. Students performing below NAEP Basic were divided into three equal subgroups.

A new NCES report, Highlights of the 2018 NAEP Oral Reading Fluency Study, highlights the key concepts and major findings of the 2018 NAEP ORF study. For additional details, see its companion publication, the 2018 NAEP Oral Reading Fluency Study, which is being released with the Highlights report.

Key Findings

  • Across all of the data described in these reports, there is a consistent and positive relationship between NAEP reading assessment performance and oral reading fluency and foundational skills.
  • Oral reading fluency and foundational skills declined significantly at each step down the NAEP reading achievement levels, from NAEP Advanced to NAEP Proficient to NAEP Basic.
  • To better understand performance below NAEP Basic, we created three new levels confined to the NAEP Basic category-below NAEP Basic High, Medium, and Low. The observed decline in oral reading fluency is also seen amongst these categories- from High to Medium to Low.
  • There are noticeable variations in performance among the three below NAEP Basic subgroups for every dimension of oral reading fluency (reading aloud with proper speed, accuracy, and expression) and for each of the two foundational skills (recognizing familiar written words and decoding unfamiliar ones).
  • For an estimated 1.27 million public school fourth-graders (36 percent) performing below NAEP Basic in reading in 2018, and in particular for an estimated 420,000 fourth-grade students in the below NAEP Basic Low subgroup, fluent reading of connected text, such as paragraphs, is a major challenge.
  • A closer look at the underlying sources of poor fluency reveals that foundational skills (such as the ability to read and understand common words) are inadequate in the below NAEP Basic subgroups. Research has established these skills as being the main drivers of oral reading fluency and critical prerequisite skills for the subsequent development of reading comprehension