|Understanding the Use of the Stanford Diagnostic Reading
Hawaii State Department of Education
Literacy for 504/Special Education
The Felix Consent Degree made evident the need to provide an annual, diagnostic reading measure, a measure that would be used across complexes/districts/schools. To meet that need, we had to select a norm-referenced test and the Stanford Diagnostic Test (SDRT) was the one chosen. The SDRT is a group-administered, norm referenced multiple-choice test assessing vocabulary, comprehension, and scanning skills. The attributes that make it a good choice are (a) it is a diagnostic assessment (meaning that you actually get diagnostic information if you analyze any student’s test results); (b) it focuses on vocabulary and comprehension which are higher level skills; and (c) it is group administered. Given the current choices, it was the best available test.
The SDRT is not, however, nor is it intended to be an adequate measure for a complete understanding of the student’s IEP. This is due to the fact that although diagnostic, the SDRT falls into the category of summative assessment. A summative assessment measures student achievement against a norm for that particular grade level. It does not give teachers a complete picture of student knowledge or abilities. In order to have a complete picture, formative assessment is necessary. Formative assessment provides crucial information on incremental progress, information that guides literacy instruction. Many times formative assessments are woven in with powerful, daily instruction. There are any number of formative literacy assessments: emergent reading assessments, spelling inventories, informal reading inventories/ phonemic awareness assessments, reading conferences and teacher observation as a few examples.
It is evident that for some students, the SDRT provides a piece of the assessment puzzle – a piece that cannot stand alone in the total assessment picture.
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