Reading Assessment

Because reading draws on multiple types of knowledge, it can be tested in several different ways. Tests also vary depending on whether they are used to test children or adults. Standardized tests are normed to a large population of readers, allowing the tester to determine what is typical for an individual of a given age. For example, the average reading ability of children aged 10 years, 0 months will be 10;0. However, a more advanced eight year old might also be able to read at the 10;0 level.

Reading achievement is influenced by multiple factors, and is not limited to a child's general intelligence.

Types of Reading Tests

Sight word reading: reading words of increasing difficulty until they become unable to read or understand the words presented to them. Difficulty is manipulated by using words that have more letters, are less common and have more complicated spelling-sound relationships.

Nonword reading: reading lists of pronounceable nonsense words out loud. The difficulty is increased by using longer words, and also by using words with more complex spelling or sound sequences.

Reading comprehension: a passage is presented to the reader, which they must read either silently or out loud. Then a series of questions are presented that test the reader's comprehension of this passage.

Reading speed: the rate with which individuals can name words.

Reading accuracy: the ability to correctly name a word on a page.

Some tests incorporate several of the above components at once. For instance, the Nelson-Denny reading test scores readers both on the speed with which they can read a passage, and also their ability to accurately answer questions about this passage.