The New York Times featured UMD College of Education Professor Dr. Peter Afflerbach in a recent article on reading comprehension. The article, focusing on the reading achievement levels of students in Texas, highlights concerns from state school superintendents and education experts that the quality of questions on state reading exams might not be appropriate for children in the tested grades.
The New York Times asked Dr. Afflerbach, an expert on reading and testing, to evaluate questions from a third-grade state reading test.
Dr. Afflerbach concluded that the test risked underestimating students’ capabilities, saying that several reading passages were longer than typical for a third-grade test. He also questioned content presented in the exam, expressing concern that passages about activities such as making sand sculptures at the beach or stargazing with a telescope, might disadvantage low-income students, who might be less likely to have had such experiences. Additionally, he said that one question seemed to have two answers that could be considered correct, while another question lacked a correct answer.
Dr. Afflerbach is a Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership whose research interests include reading assessment and reading comprehension strategies and processes.