The Performance Effects of Word Locator Cues on the NAEP Reading Assessment

Everson, Howard T.; Osterlind, Steven J.; Dogan, Enis
January 2007
Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation;2007, Vol. 12, p1
Academic Journal
Beginning with the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading assessment, a new subset of items will be introduced with the intent of measuring vocabulary in context. The assessment's item format requires an examinee to locate a targeted word in the reading passage. It was reasoned that presenting these items along with 'word locator cues' might help reduce construct irrelevant variance due to students' differential ability in searching the targeted word. Using a sample of 1323 fourth and eight grade students, this study investigated the effects of two such 'word locator cues' on student performance: numbering the lines of the passage, and printing targeted words in boldface type. The results indicated that various format conditions (with and without cues) do not influence student performance on the vocabulary items after controlling for reading comprehension. On the other hand, at both fourth and eighth grade, we detected interactions between format conditions and race/ethnicity, which suggested that word locator cues appear to hurt the performance of certain subgroups. Implications of these findings for NAEP's future reading assessments are discussed.


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