Standards for the Assessment of Reading and Writing

Case Studies: Table 2. Analysis of School and Classroom Cases 3 and 4 in Relation to the IRA-NCTE Assessment Standards

Assessment standard


Case 3: Identification focus


Case 4: Prevention focus

1. The interests of the student are paramount in assessment.


Instructional adaptations serve accurate diagnosis of disability and assumes that the student’s interests are best served by identifying genuine and permanent handicaps so that subsequent accommodations can be made.


Instructional adaptations prevent initial difficulties from becoming disabilities and assumes that the student’s interests are best served by attributing lack of progress to instructional inadequacies, prompting constant efforts at instructional improvement.

2. The teacher is the most important agent of assessment.


Teacher role is minimized in assessments by having others gather assessment data. Teacher role in intervention-as-assessment is also restricted by enforcing program fidelity, minimizing teacher adaptation for a particular child.


The teacher gathers ongoing formative data and individually and collaboratively negotiates instructional strategies based on those data. Teacher expertise is central in noticing, collecting, and responding to data in instruction/intervention. The emphasis on ongoing coaching recognizes this.

3. The primary purpose of assessment is to improve teaching and learning.


The focus of assessment is on reliably determining which students are not benefiting from instruction rather than on providing instructionally useful information. Data collected on teaching are not to improve instructional interactions but to ensure instruction is not influenced by individuals.


Data are collected by the teacher to ensure they inform instruction. Regular stock-taking meetings are to counter individual biases and problem-solve instruction for students not accelerating adequately. Data are gathered specifically at tier 4 on instructional interactions to improve teaching.

4. Assessment must reflect and allow for critical inquiry into curriculum and instruction.


Data on teaching only allow for standardizing instruction and pointing to students for whom instruction is not working. Data do not inform the nature of instructional improvement. Because the focus of assessment is narrow (speed and accuracy of word reading), the differential effects of the larger literacy curriculum cannot be examined.


Data are collected on both teaching and learning that allow inquiry into curriculum and instruction. Assessments address a wide array of literacy (word knowledge, writing, comprehension) as well as teaching interaction patterns, enabling critical inquiry into the curriculum and its effects.

5. Assessment must recognize and reflect the intellectually and socially complex nature of reading and writing and the important roles of school, home, and society in literacy development.


This case does not recognize literacy as social or complex and involves parents in the process of classifying a student as learning disabled.


This case recognizes literacy learning as social and somewhat complex.

6. Assessment must be fair and equitable.


Fairness is approached as ensuring due process, equal treatment, and reliable data and for providing accommodations for those with handicaps.


Fairness is viewed as requiring optimal instruction for all, which might be different for each.

7. The consequences of an assessment procedure are the first and most important consideration in establishing the validity of the assessment.


Reliability is considered the foundation of validity. Validity is tied to a narrow view of literacy. A valid assessment is considered to be one that accurately identifies students who are, in fact, learning disabled and does not identify those who are not.


An assessment process is considered valid if it leads to optimal instruction and the prevention of learning disability.

8. The assessment process should involve multiple perspectives and sources of data.


Multiple perspectives may be represented at the committee meeting. However, since data are narrow, there is limited likelihood that different perspectives will be invoked.


Multiple perspectives can be represented at quarterly grade-level meetings and at committee meetings. A broad range of data are available to invite and address different perspectives.

9. Assessment must be based in the local school learning community, including active and essential participation of families and community members.


Assessment is based in the local school learning community with limited participation of families.


Assessment is based in the local school learning community with limited participation of families.

10. All stakeholders in the educational community—students, families, teachers, administrators, policymakers, and the public—must have an equal voice in the development, interpretation, and reporting of assessment information.


This standard is not sustained within this part of the school assessment system.


This standard is not sustained within this part of the school assessment system.

11. Families must be involved as active, essential participants in the assessment process.


Families are primarily involved at critical junctures.


Families are primarily involved at critical junctures.

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