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More About the NAEP Oral Reading Study Assessment

In 2002, NAEP conducted a special reading assessment to examine aspects of fourth-graders' oral reading performance that could not be observed from results of the main NAEP reading assessment. Oral reading performance is a significant indicator of overall reading ability and comprises three key elements: accuracy, rate, and fluency (Fuchs et al. 2001).

The results of the study are intended to inform educators and researchers about the oral reading abilities of fourth-graders and how those abilities relate to overall reading comprehension as measured by the 2002 main NAEP reading assessment. 

Reading comprehension has historically been measured solely through examining students' written or oral responses to questions about reading selections.  Examining these responses may offer useful insights into their reading ability and their ability to think about texts. However, listening to students' oral reading performance affords researchers opportunities to examine factors such as accuracy and phrasing, which are not directly observable through their answers to questions. 

The study was conducted in early spring of 2002 with a nationally representative subsample of 1,779 fourth-grade students selected for the main NAEP 2002 reading assessment. The fourth-graders were electronically recorded as they read aloud a 198-word excerpt of "The Box in the Barn," one of the passages that the students had read one week earlier when they took the main NAEP assessment. (The 198-word portion of the passage is highlighted.) Read more about features of the assessment. Explore the results of the oral reading study.

NAEP collected two sets of related data from the students in the study: reading comprehension data derived from their performance on the main NAEP reading assessment, and data on their oral reading performance on "The Box in the Barn" reading passage.

The 2002 oral reading study is a follow-up to the 1992 study. Read a summary of the 1992 report in NAEPFacts: Listening to Children Read Aloud: Oral Fluency. The 1992 study was NAEP's initial attempt at large-scale measurement of oral reading and one of the first ever performed. In their reading framework, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) requested both studies.

Because different reading passages and administration procedures were used, the results of the 1992 and the 2002 studies are not directly comparable. However, because the students who participated in the 2002 study also participated in the main NAEP assessment, it is possible to examine the relationship between students' oral reading abilities and their reading comprehension.

1Fuchs, L.S., Fuchs, D., Hosp., M.D., and Jenkins, J.R. (2001). Oral Reading Fluency as an Indicator of Reading Competence: A theoretical, Empirical, and Historical Analysis. Scientific Studies of Reading, 5(3): 239-256.

Last updated 26 October 2005 (FW)