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Literacy Education in Adult Basic Education

Volume 3: Chapter Four
John Kruidenier

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In his overview of literacy assessment in ABE, John Kruidenier begins with definitions of literacy and assessment and commonly-used assessment terms. He notes influences on the development of adult literacy assessment, including standardized testing, criterion-referenced testing, performance or alternative assessment, and other innovations in testing, as well as federal legislation. The author surveys large-scale assessments in the US, from intelligence tests conducted during World War I to the National Adult Literacy Survey, and presents a range of views on the purposes of assessment.

The next part of the chapter examines assessment tools and approaches used to measure specific components of reading and writing ability. For each component, Kruidenier discusses norm-referenced, criterion-referenced and performance or informal assessment. He includes the most commonly used ABE assessments, as well as other tests or approaches where appropriate, and points out issues related to contexts addressed by tests and test reliability and validity. In addition, he discusses efforts to assess the use of reading and writing practice among adults. Kruidenier concludes this section with an overview of the current state of ABE literacy assessment, including the most frequently used assessments and issues related to their administration.

Kruidenier closes the chapter with a discussion of persistent issues in assessment and recommendations for research, policy and practice. He emphasizes the need for research to examine whether and how various assessment approaches lead to gains in literacy ability, as well as research into issues of motivation and literacy practice and the best means of measuring various aspects of literacy. He calls for policymakers to provide adequate funding for research as well as the development and use of assessments. He also cautions against the National Reporting System becoming a high-stakes system with narrowly focused curriculum and single measures being used for evaluation of programs. Finally, with respect to practice, Kruidenier recommends the integration of assessment with instruction, the use of reliable and valid measures, and training in assessment for practitioners.

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Updated 7/27/07 :: Copyright © 2005 NCSALL