Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Christopher H. Skinner

Committee Members

Kathy Davis, Sherry Bain, Charles Hargis


Students referred for school psychology services often have reading skills deficits and experience difficulty in other academic areas. There are no procedures, strategies, or programs that can be used to remedy reading skills deficits across all children. Therefore, the effects of remediation procedures must be assessed. For this assessment to be useful (e.g., allow educators to alter ineffective programs quickly) these assessment procedures must be efficient and allow for multiple forms. This assessment must also be reliable and sensitive enough to detect small changes in behavior over a brief period of time. Curriculum-based measurement (CBM) procedures were designed to allow for frequent and efficient evaluation of intervention effects (Deno, 1985). Researchers have repeatedly shown that there are strong positive correlations etween words correct per minute (WCPM) and standardized tests of reading Fuchs & Deno, 1992). However, researchers have also found a decreasing orrelational trend between WCPM and standardized reading achievement tests as student grade level increases (Jenkins & Jewell, 1993).

CBM procedures measure oral reading fluency (WCPM) in an attempt to indirectly measure general reading skills. Rate of comprehension is a measure in which comprehension and fluency are both directly measured. Rate of comprehension may provide the sensitivity needed to detect small changes in reading growth as student grade level increases (Skinner et al., 2002).

The current study was designed to extend research on CBM reading assessment procedures. Specifically, researchers compared the effects of oral and silent reading on the number of questions participants answered correctly across elementary and secondary students. Additionally, researchers compared the effect reading mode (oral versus silent) had on comprehension rates across elementary and secondary students. Finally, the relationships among oral and silent reading comprehension rate and WCPM and oral and silent reading comprehension level and WCPM were analyzed.

Participants were assessed in two sessions. In one session, each student read three passages silently and answered comprehension questions. In the other session, each student read three passages orally and answered comprehension questions. The passages and questions used were selected from the Timed Readings Series (Spargo, 1989). For both reading conditions, the investigator recorded the number of seconds required for the student to read each passage, the number of questions the student answered correctly, and the student’s rate of comprehension. For the oral reading condition, the experimenter recorded errors and the number of words read correctly in 1 minute.

The results of this study support the validity of WCPM as a measure of comprehension rate, but not comprehension level. The results also indicate that oral reading does not hinder reading comprehension, but may actually enhance comprehension relative to silent reading. Thus, the current results suggest that during CBM, asking students to answer questions after reading aloud is appropriate, but measures obtained from the comprehension questions are only useful if converted to rates. The current results support the use of WCPM as a measure of reading comprehension rates. Although the current results support oral reading comprehension rate as a possible measure of general reading skills, future research is needed to establish the reliability, validity, and sensitivity of that measure.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."

Included in

Education Commons