Reading fluency (1st and 2nd grades)— the ability to read connected text accurately, quickly, and automatically (e.g., the teacher times the reading of the passage above and calculates a fluency rate that includes only words read correctly).
Reading comprehension (1st and 2nd grades)—the understanding of what has been read (e.g., the teacher asks the child to answer implicit and explicit questions about the passage that the child has read aloud). For K-1 students unable to read aloud by themselves, listening comprehension is assessed, i.e., the ability to understand what has been read aloud (e.g., the teacher reads a short passage and asks the child both explicit and implicit questions about the events in the story).
According to the researchers who helped develop the test, “the most cost-effective early intervention is prevention—prevention in the form of differentiated classroom instruction” (Foorman and Schatschneider, in press). This means that teachers who use the TPRI to identify risk must also be able to translate the results of the assessment into instruction. To this end, an Intervention Activities Guide, provided to each teacher, has activities and sample lessons geared toward each of the major concepts assessed by the TPRI. Teachers can use it to plan supplementary lessons that focus on the specific skills in need of development. Developers of the test do note, however, that many teachers will need some professional development to help them learn to administer the test systematically and to use it to plan instruction effectively (Foorman et al., 2001).
The TPRI is notable for the attention paid to collecting empirical data about its psychometric properties. Items were selected for the screening test from a larger battery of items that were found to distinguish statistically between successful and unsuccessful readers at the ends of grades 1 and 2. In addition, field test data were collected to examine interrater reliability (the accuracy, agreement, and objectivity of scoring across teachers) as well as the validity of the TPRI scores compared with other well-known measures of word recognition and comprehension.
Cutoff points for the screening instrument have been purposely set low so that overidentification of those at risk occurs instead of underidentification (i.e., teachers err on the side of administering the complete inventory to some students who might not really be at risk rather than not administering it to some who truly are at risk). In this case, the main consequence of overidentification is that the teacher proceeds to administer the more comprehensive inventory to the child. Although the false-positive rate for the screening instrument is relatively large in kindergarten (38 percent) and 1st grade, it drops below 15 percent by the beginning of 2nd grade. Results of this test have been explicitly excluded by legislation from use in the Texas accountability system or its teacher appraisal and incentive system.
For more information on the TPRI, visit www.tpri.org or the web site of the Center for Academic and Reading Skills, developers of the instrument for the Texas Education Agency, at http://cars.uth.tmc.edu.