Reading comprehension is something that can be difficult for people of all ages. It is important to instill this process in kids from the beginning. While I didn’t struggle with comprehension so much as a child, I find that it is becoming more and more difficult for me, especially when the material I am reading is very boring, dry, and uninteresting. This is why it is important for teachers to make sure that the material they have children reading is, for the most part, something that is of interest to them, especially if they have difficulty in other areas of reading.
Other parts of reading can be simple to assess, but comprehension can be more difficult to assess. Gunning gives a variety of factors that can cause poor comprehension in students, including “inadequate background, lack of necessary concepts or vocabulary, poor use of strategies, lack of basic decoding skills or fluency, lack of attention or concentration, poorly developed thinking skills, or inadequate language development” (Gunning 128). These factors can be made worse if the material is too difficult, not strong, or if the instruction is poor.
Assessments that are designed to check reading comprehension can be one of two extremes: they either make understanding texts too complex or make it too simple. They focus on strange things and don’t really give teachers an accurate reading. There are some things you need to be conscious of as well. When administering an assessment to a student that requires them to retell a story, tell them to pretend that the person they are telling it to hasn’t heard it before, or else they might leave out important details if they assume you, the teacher, already knows the story. There are some prompting questions you can ask, but you really shouldn’t give them too much help. It’s important they come up with as much as they can on their own. Some other prompts you can use include think-alouds, interviews, and questionnaires, where asking questions is key.
As you can see, there are many different ways you can assess student comprehension. It is important to know the student well and observe them in their element so that you can perform the assessment that would be most beneficial to them. Just like in other areas of education, observation is SO important and it can tell you a lot about reading comprehension. Just be sure to observe them in their natural element so you can see them for who they truly are.