lems.3 These assessments engage teachers—some more and some less formally—in collecting data on which to base curricular decisions about individual children. Both the Texas Primary Reading Inventory (TPRI) and the Virginia Phonological Awareness and Literacy Screening (PALS) have been implemented on a statewide basis.

Many children who master the process of reading nonetheless do poorly at developing broader literacy skills (RAND, 2002a). While there are fairly good predictors of difficulty in learning to read, predictors of comprehension problems are less well developed. Assessments of vocabulary and writing ability, both of which support comprehension, are underdeveloped. While there are many standardized tests of vocabulary and writing in use, they provide only normative information relative to students in the same age or grade and therefore are not adequate to provide individual feedback that can guide instruction. Vocabulary tests that assess the breadth and depth of word meanings are required to give teachers information about which words to target for instruction. Likewise, writing protocols that are evaluated for spelling, mechanics, grammar, word choice, ideas, and organization are needed to provide the basis for the revision process so fundamental to the development of skilled writing.


Reading teachers need to understand the current state of knowledge on the course of literacy development, and the role of reading instruction in supporting that development. The specific areas of study that would align teacher preparation with the learning experiences that should be provided to children in the classroom are outlined in detail in Preventing Reading Difficulties (National Research Council, 1998:285-287). We are far from the goal of effectively providing all reading teachers with


These include the Observation Survey developed in New Zealand (Clay, 1993); the South Brunswick, New Jersey, Early Literacy Portfolio (Salinger and Chittenden, 1994); the Primary Language Record (Barr et al., 1988); the Work Sampling System (Meisels, 1996-1997); the Texas Primary Reading Inventory; and the Phonological Awareness and Literacy Screening developed at the University of Virginia (see Foorman et al., 2001, for summaries of all of these programs).

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