In blogging on a local journalist’s blog last week, a parent indicated that many children are behind grade level in her child’s middle school. Because I was trained as a reading specialist, I offered to share my knowledge, via this blog, toward helping that particular mother, and any other interested person, learn how to help children better succeed in school through raising reading ability.
In my last post about education, entitled, “Mastery Learning,” I had explained the differences in Independent, Instructional, and Frustration levels of functioning in the classroom. As a parent, you need to be able to assess if your child can read his or her textbooks successfully. In the high school in which I had taught for 16 years, we found that, invariably, one-half of the 9th grade students were reading on 6th grade level or below. However, some students were reading on college level in 9th grade. There is a simple test whereby you can assess if your child is reading his textbook on Independent, Instructional, or Frustration Level. It is called the Cloze test. After you diagnose accurately, the next step is to teach your child some reading techniques that will enhance his success in school. The best reading technique that I can share with you in helping your child better read and comprehend textbooks is called SQ3R. This is a read-study method for comprehending textbooks well. Any student will benefit from applying this formula, whether that student is below, on, or above level. However, practicing the read-study method of SQ3R is especially needed by students who are reading their textbooks on a frustration level. Also, practicing SQ3R when reading textbooks helps students better retain what they read. That should help their grades improve, also. SQ3R will be presented in the next post, Essay #3. Let’s begin, now, with understanding how to administer and score the CLOZE test, effectively.
I. CLOZE TEST
The CLOZE Test is a procedure for measuring the readability of textbooks.
If your child is in 8th grade, he should have a textbook for all curriculum areas written close to 8th grade level. If your child is reading on 5th grade reading comprehension level in 8th grade, he may have trouble reading the standard 8th grade textbooks. To determine if your child is reading on Independent, Instructional, or Frustration Level, begin by choosing either his science or social studies textbook to use in developing your own CLOZE test. Then, follow the directions below:
(1) Select a passage of 250 words from the textbook.
(2) Type the passage with the 1st sentence intact, but with every 5th word deleted from all subsequent sentences until you have a total of 50 blanks. NOTE: To be absolutely valid, the passage should be typed so that all lines for the blank spaces are the same length (minimizing guessing possibilities). Tell your child before he begins to fill in the blanks, that all of the blanks will be the same length although words missing in the blanks will be varied in length.
(3) Administer the test by instructing your child to attempt to fill in the blanks with the missing words.
(4) Score the test by counting as correct every EXACT word your child has supplied. Do NOT count synonyms or any word that approximates the missing word. To be counted as correct, the EXACT word missing must be filled in the blank by your child. (The formula has been adjusted with low percentages to account for wrong answers which, although close in meaning, were not the exact words missing.)
ANALYZING RESULTS FOR THE CLOZE TEST
The percentage score for correct answers equals the number of correct answers times 2. Example: If your child correctly identified 25 of the missing words, out of the 50 blanks for words missing, his score would be 50%. If he had identified 20 of the 50 blanks, his score would be 40%.
INTERPRETATION OF SCORES:
100% – 58% equates to Independent Level: Student could effectively learn with the textbook, with minimal teacher instruction.
57% – 44% equates to Instructional Level: Reasonable difficulty level, so that the textbook is adequate for learning, with teacher instruction.
43% – 0% equates to Frustration Level: Even with instruction, the textbook will probably be too difficult for learning.
NOTE: If your child is having varied difficulty in different curriculum areas, you may want to administer the CLOZE test with more textbooks, than simply his science or social studies textbooks.
Here is a partial CLOZE test so that you can better visualize what you should be typing:
“A rabbit and a raspberry bush: one is an animal; the other, a plant. One moves around; the ————— is rooted in a ————— place. All of us ————— tell an animal from ————— plant, a rabbit from ————— raspberry bush!”
“A rabbit and a raspberry bush: one is an animal; the other, a plant. One moves around; the other is rooted in a particular place. All of us can tell an animal from a plant, a rabbit from a raspberry bush!”