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Dodging Distractors on Foundations of Reading, Part 2

October 25th, 2017 | Comments Off on Dodging Distractors on Foundations of Reading, Part 2 | Certification Prep, Reading Certification, Teacher's Lounge Blog

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.

Are you looking for additional resources to help you prepare for the Foundations of Reading exam? We have a full-length comprehensive course that provides instruction, practice, and expert support. Best of luck.

Dodging Distractors on Foundations of Reading Exam

October 10th, 2017 | Comments Off on Dodging Distractors on Foundations of Reading Exam | Certification Prep, Reading Certification, Teacher's Lounge Blog

In addition to mastering the content for the Foundations of Reading teacher certification test, you can also be wise to some testing strategies. Multiple choice questions are made of a stem and alternatives. One of the listed alternatives will be the best answer while the others will be distractors.

Here is a tip to help you use the question to find the best answer: Compare the information in the stem to the alternatives. You should be able to eliminate some options with information in the stem. Consider the following:

Lily is a sixth grader who reads grade-level narrative with fluency. Despite receiving a superior rating on her science project on coding, she read a passage on a similar topic hesitantly. She stopped frequently and reread words, phrases, and entire sentences. She performed poorly on comprehension questions over the passage. Based on her profile, which of the following approaches is most likely to help her?

A. Introduction of key vocabulary words
B. Direct instruction on comprehension strategies
C. Instruction on understanding academic language structures
D. Provision of a graphic organizer to map story elements

The exam requires critical thinking. Take the information you’ve been given and draw some conclusions.

Is the problem content vocabulary (A)? Probably not. The stem tells you that Lily got a superior rating on her science project. We can assume that research on the project would provide sufficient background knowledge and vocabulary for grade level informational text.

Is the problem her comprehension strategies (B)? Probably not. Again, the stem tells you that she stops and rereads. Rereading is a valid comprehension strategy. Don’t be tempted to bite here because of her poor performance on comprehension questions. Comprehension problems are often more complex than just use of the usual strategies of rereading, visualizing, and paraphrasing.

Is the problem academic language (C)? Maybe. Academic language is a broad term that includes the language that students need to do well in school. It includes vocabulary, grammar, literary devices, signal words, sentence structure, etc. This could be the problem. We know Lily reads narrative fluently and informational text hesitantly. Don’t assume that because she has the vocabulary she also has the skills to pick up on signal words and interpret complex sentences.

Is the problem with analyzing story elements (D)? No. Story elements are a component of narrative text. Lily’s struggle is with reading informational text.

After comparing all the alternatives with the stem, you can definitely rule out A and D. Given that the question indicates that Lily is using comprehension strategies and gives no indication of her ability to process complex academic language, addressing academic language structure weaknesses is the best approach.

You’ll need to be on guard for irrelevant material in the question stem, but more often than not, the stem provides valuable information you can use to dodge the distractors.

Are you looking for additional resources to help you prepare for the Foundations of Reading exam? We have a full-length comprehensive course that provides instruction and practice. Best of luck.