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Predicting math outcomes from a reading screening assessment in grades 3-8

by Ted Dwyer, Linda Gaughan, Yaacov Petscher and Adrea Truckenmiller

District and state education leaders frequently use screening assessments to identify students who are at risk of performing poorly on end-of-year achievement tests. This study examines the use of a universal screening assessment of reading skills for early identification of students at risk of low achievement on nationally normed tests of reading and math and provides support for the interpretation of screening scores to inform instruction. Several members of the Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast Improving Literacy Alliance already use a reading screening assessment--the Florida Center for Reading Research Reading Assessment (FRA)--for all students in grades 3-8 to identify students who may be at risk of poor end-of-year reading outcomes. To gain more information to drive instruction without students having to spend more time taking tests, these alliance members wanted to know whether the FRA could also be used to identify students at risk of poor end-of-year math outcomes. Data on students in grades 3-8 from one large Florida school district were available to answer these questions. The study found that the FRA identified students at risk of poor performance in mathematics on the Stanford Achievement Test, Tenth Edition, with a level of accuracy similar to that of screening assessments that measure math skills. The findings indicate that school districts could use an assessment of reading skills to screen for risk in both reading and math at the same time, potentially reducing costs and testing time. This report provides decision trees to support implementation of screening practices and interpretation by teachers. The following are appended: (1) Study methodology; (2) Descriptive statistics; (3) Comparing screening accuracy statistics; (4) Increasing the transparency of screening accuracy decisions; and (5) Decision trees for each grade level.

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