As you are preparing for the Foundations of Reading test, think back to your coursework on creating assessments. In addition to the open response, the FORT is made up of 100 multiple-choice questions. Understanding the mechanics of a good, critical thinking multiple choice question can help you to choose the best alternative and dodge the distractors.
Test makers often create distractors from what they know to be misconceptions of their testing pool. Consider the following distractors.
- Guided repeated oral reading is an important part of a balanced literacy program for students who are reading with fluency and automaticity.
- Confusion between spelling of wait and weight demonstrated the student’s weakness in phonology.
- The student’s reading “the play started” with the miscue of “the play start” could best be addressed by teaching inflected phonemes such as -ed.
- The student’s pronunciation of courageous as /ker- ay -gus/ demonstrates a lack of awareness of phonological shift in a derived form.
Do you see any problems? The problem is that the distractors themselves have errors.
- Guided repeated oral reading is indeed an important part of a balanced literacy program, but not for student who are reading with fluency and automaticity. Once a student has reached fluency, guided repeated oral reading is no longer generally considered to be a best strategy.
- Phonology is the systematic organization of sounds. It does not include spelling.
- An inflected ending such as -ed is a morpheme, not a phoneme. The morpheme -ed contains two phonemes: /e/ and /d/.
- The student who pronounced courageous with a long a sound made the phonological shift from the root form courage to the derived form accurately. The /j/ sound of courageous does not shift from the root form courage.
Multiple-choice questions on the FORT are designed to test your knowledge and critical thinking skills. They will require that you have mastered vocabulary and that you can apply strategies to classroom situations.
One way you can eliminate a distractor from consideration is if it contains an error. Apply all those comprehension strategies that you are teaching your students: monitoring, rereading, metacognition. Search out the traps and avoid them.
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