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Implementation of Johns' Basic Reading Inventory

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Case Study: Implementation of Johns' Basic Reading Inventory

Justin Williams

Augusta State University

Biographical Data

Meet Mason, an 11-year-old rising sixth-grader. He was never held back while in elementary school, but he oftentimes struggled to stay on grade level during reading program examinations. According to his mother, his scores on the AIMSweb reading program stayed slightly below what is considered "average" throughout his fifth-grade school year. In regards to unusual situations that might have affected his performance in school, I learned during a pre-test, informal chat with Mason that he is a competitive dirtbike racer. As Mason explained, on certain weekends, he and his family traveled to different sites throughout the Southeast for competitive races. Because elementary students generally crave structure and a consistent schedule, perhaps a hectic travel schedule could have had some impact on Mason's performance up to this point.

Testing Situation

The goal in administering Jerry L. Johns' Basic Reading Inventory to Mason was to determine where he stands on the reading-level continuum. I conducted the test on July 22, 2009, at Mason's home in Augusta, Ga. I chose an "L" positioning (Mason seated next to me but facing perpendicular to me) because it is inviting, not confrontational, in manner. I began administering the examination at 4:30 p.m., and it took 68 minutes to complete. Mason completed the examination in two sessions divided by a brief restroom break. I did not experience any problems during the administering of the test.

Tests Administered

Mason completed the following tests: an interest inventory with a focus on reading, a writing sample, a pair of Sitton word lists, words lists for Grades 4-9 in the Basic Reading Inventory, and passages focusing on context and comprehension for Grades 6-8. I used Form A for all of the Basic Reading Inventory tests. I checked the correct procedures for the test processes beforehand, and then I rechecked the procedures after testing was complete. I did not find any inconsistencies between my test procedure and the procedures recommended in the Basic Reading Inventory manual.

Summary of Test Results

- Interest Inventory

The first session began with Mason completing an interest inventory regarding his comfort level with reading and his reading preferences. Mason revealed a potential roadblock to reading success on Item No. 1, as he answered "no" to the following statement: "I enjoy reading." Mason also answered "no" on the third item, which asked whether or not the subject enjoys reading aloud. In thinking back to my prior knowledge about the AIMSweb reading program, I remembered that the system involves a student reading aloud and the proctor charting the number of mistakes and the rate at which the student read. If a student does not enjoy reading and particularly dislikes reading aloud, one might expect poor results from that student on a reading test that is aligned in this format. Moreover, reading rate is only one part of fluency, which is only one aspect of being an on-level reader. Thus, measuring rate is not necessarily a good indicator of reading success.

Further down the inventory, Mason revealed that he enjoys being read to and even talking to his friends about what he reads. In addition, he enjoys reading texts in an alternate format, such as magazines. Thus, instead of wallowing, Mason could potentially thrive under the direction of a classroom teacher who focuses a little less on "school" texts and more on alternative forms that might bring out greater student motivation for reading.

- Writing Sample

The writing prompt featured the following simple directions: "Write about what you know." Mason knows dirtbike racing, so that is what he decided to write about. As I read through the two paragraphs Mason wrote, my first thought was that he has very good conventions of writing: He indented his paragraphs and used correct punctuation throughout. However, he tended to capitalize letters unnecessarily at times. In addition, Mason had some slight misspellings. On the positive side, none of the mistakes was significant, meaning that the miscues did not change the meaning of the paragraphs.

- Sitton Word Lists

I used the words list for sixth grade designed by Rebecca Sitton in her program "Core Words." I picked out a pair of 20-word sections among the 200 words that are featured for sixth grade. On the first list, Mason correctly wrote the spellings of 19 of the 20 words. Then, on the second list, Mason successfully wrote all 20 words. Thus, on both lists, Mason scored on an independent reading level. While this nearly flawless performance on the sixth-grade words might have signaled that sixth grade was a good place to start on the Basic Reading Inventory word lists, I began with the fourth-grade list because I wanted to be sure that he had a firm grasp before I moved to a higher level.

- Basic Reading Inventory Word Lists

After the Sitton word list, I moved on to the word lists in the Basic Reading Inventory. Mason correctly identified 19 of the 20 words on the fourth-grade level, which meant that he tested at an independent reading level. After needing additional time to analyze only one of the fourth-grade words, Mason used analysis on four fifth-grade words. Mason correctly identified those four words by analysis and the other 16 words by sight, meaning that he did not miss any of the 20 words. He tested independent at the fifth-grade level.

Mason was also independent at the sixth-grade level, again needing analysis for four words but spelling 19 of the 20 correctly overall. Moving on to seventh grade, Mason was correct on 16 out of the 20 words. This corresponded to the instructional reading level. Next, Mason provided correct answers on 16 out of 20 of the eighth-grade words, also testing instructional at that level. Finally, Mason reached the frustration reading level on the ninth-grade word list, missing eight of the 20 words. After having gauged Mason's independent, instructional and frustration levels, I decided to move from the word lists to the context passages.



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