The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) conducts a reading assessment every two years with all students in the fourth and eighth grades. The NAEP continues testing students every four years in twelfth grade. All 50 states conduct these assessments, as well as the District of Columbia and Department of Defense schools. Students are asked to read selected grade- or age-appropriate reading materials and to answer questions based on what was read.
The assessment uses three types of texts. The NAEP assessment measures reading comprehension and gives an understanding of the participants’ knowledge, skills, and performance. The results are reported in two different manners: achievement levels and scale scores. This framework was updated in 2009.
In addition to the NAEP reading assessment, there is another standardized testing that assesses math and language skills. This data can be used to analyze where English Language Learners (ELLs) stand in comparison with English-speaking students. The results of these nationalized assessments demonstrate that 47% of ELLs in the fourth grade and 51% of ELLs in the eighth grade are behind in reading skills, in comparison to their white counterparts. Research demonstrates that as ELLs are phased out of ESL (English As A Second Language) or Dual Language classes, their literacy and language skills decline.
Teachers can help change national reading statistics by encouraging ELL students and their families to obtain and enhance their literacy and language skills. This can be done in a variety of ways. For instance, teachers can suggest that ELL parents read bilingual books with their children. Bilingual books are great tools that utilize your students’ home language and English. This allows ELL students and parents an opportunity to make connections between the texts so that they can obtain a fuller understanding of what they are reading. In addition to bilingual books, teachers can suggest that parents read leveled reading books with their children. Leveled readers provide varying levels of difficulty that build students’ skill levels, fluency, and comprehension. For more information, regarding ELL students and reading skills, visit The Latino Family Literacy Project’s website.