Oklahoma student testing: 4th-grade vocabulary scores on par with national average, 8th-graders slightly below
BY KIM ARCHER World Staff Writer
Friday, December 07, 2012
12/07/12 at 2:56 AM
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Oklahoma's fourth-grade students scored on par with their peers nationally in understanding the meaning of vocabulary words when read within the context of a passage, according to a national report released Thursday.
The state's eighth-graders scored slightly below the national average, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which periodically assesses American students in core subjects.
For the first time, NAEP released vocabulary results from the reading test it gives fourth- and eighth-graders across the country.
Oklahoma students in both fourth and eighth grades scored slightly lower than the national average in reading comprehension, the report said.
According to 2011 results, most fourth-graders nationwide knew the meaning of "created" and "underestimate," but few understood what "flourish" and "prestigious" mean.
In eighth grade, most students knew the meaning of "replicate" and "anecdotes," but few knew what "urbane" means, the report shows.
"Without a strong vocabulary, any child's ability to read and to learn suffers dramatically," said David Driscoll, chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP. "Helping students improve their vocabulary and use words in the proper context is essential to improving overall reading ability - especially for students who most need to improve."
Decades of research has shown a correlation between vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension, which was borne out in the results of the NAEP vocabulary assessments, officials said.
In 2011, fourth- and eighth-grade students nationwide who were performing above the 75th percentile in reading comprehension also had the highest average vocabulary scores.
Lower-performing students at or below the 25th percentile in reading comprehension had the lowest average vocabulary scores, the report said.
So a primary student's vocabulary knowledge can predict his or her reading comprehension in high school, said Margaret McKeown, a senior scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh.
"We still find there is very little vocabulary done in classrooms at any age," she said. "There is quite a bit of research about vocabulary and the best ways to teach it. Unfortunately, we are not seeing that go into the classrooms as much as we would like."
The NAEP assessment was designed to determine whether children could use the vocabulary words to understand what they are reading, rather than just isolated definitions, she said.
"So the NAEP vocabulary assessment items don't ask about the meaning of words, but about the meaning of a portion of the passage that contains a word that we're targeting," McKeown said.
An example test question for eighth-grade students:
Reading passage: Before my great-grandfather died, he sold the recipe for the mint syrup to someone in town for one hundred dollars. This hurt my grandfather's feelings. My grandfather thought he should have inherited it to carry on the tradition. As far as the family knew, the person who bought the recipe never used it. At least not in public. My mother had watched my great-grandfather make the syrup so often she thought she could replicate it. But what did he have in those little unmarked bottles? She experimented. Once she came close. She wrote down what she did. Now she has lost the paper.
Question: On page 2, the author says that her mother "thought she could replicate" the great-grandfather's mint syrup. This means the author's mother thought she could -
A) buy back the mint syrup recipe
B) make mint syrup that tasted like his
C) remember how the mint syrup tasted
D) make a better mint syrup than his
Source: National Assessment of Educational Progress report
Original Print Headline: State student vocabulary scores at or below average
Kim Archer 918-581-8315