Action Research Project Design
The purpose of this action research project design is to compare the efficacy of two current research-based approaches related to the assessment of reading comprehension. Sarroub and Pearson (1998) have commented that the assessment of reading comprehension has witnessed numerous developments over the course of time as advances in reading theory were made. Generally, many reading programs are assessed via criterion-referenced assessments developed for basal programs and as Holyer (1998) has pointed out, many of these tests were viewed as biased against specific student populations for whom the contents of basal readers or curriculum may have been appropriate. An alternative method of assessing reading comprehension is "retelling," described by Sarroub and Pearson (1998) as a system for evaluating the depth and breadth of students' text understandings based on their attempts to retell or recall what they had read. These two methods will be compared in a sixth-eighth grade middle school setting.
A comparison of a formal method of reading comprehension assessment (i.e., criterion-referenced assessments) to an informal method ("retelling") has the capacity to provide insight for middle school teachers as to how more effective assessment strategies can be developed. This is particularly significant in light of the fact that many classrooms contain heterogeneous and multicultural student populations. It is also significant in that assessments focused on level descriptions have been found unreliable with respect to summarizing the performance of children at this age (Harding & Hall, 1999). More comprehensive and varied assessment strategies have the potential to provide a more complete portrait of children's reading comprehension achievement and development.
Each of two sixth-grade middle school reading classes will be provided with a basal reading program containing six to e...