By: Carmen Willings
It is important to document print reading rates to evaluate reading efficiency and academic achievement in order to determine the appropriateness of print as the primary literacy medium. The TVI should document whether the student is completing tasks efficiently through print, making academic progress within a reasonable time compared to sighted peers. The students reading should be assessed using the reading media of choice and using low vision devices.
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Due to the nationwide shortage of vision professionals, it can be challenging to locate personnel. Announce a job vacancy on the Job Exchange of Teaching Students with Visual Impairments, an online listing of jobs specific to the visual impairment field.
Although ongoing short passage assessments are helpful, they don’t indicate if visual fatigue is a concern for the student. For this reason it is important to evaluate the student’s reading when reading lengthier passages and/or collaborate with classroom teachers to evaluate how a student performs when taking longer assessments. If a student experiences fatigue by the end of the day, it may be helpful to evaluate the student in the morning and compare to the reading level at the end of the day.
The student’s overall academic achievement should be considered as well as how the student has performed on state competency tests, and other standardized achievement tests. The magnitude of the gap between the student’s reading and the student’s sighted peers should be considered when determining appropriate reading media. Some possible solutions identified on p. 262 of Foundations of Low Vision: Clinical and Functional Perspectives by AFB, could include one of the following:
There are many reading rate charts that are available by searching the internet. Fountas & Pinnell, a commonly reading assessment tool used in schools identifies the following expected Oral Reading Rates (Words per Minute) at grade and instructional levels:
These averages appear slightly higher than other reading charts and reflect rates of students with unimpaired vision. The following describes the typical oral and silent reading rates for students without visual impairments found in Foundations of Low Vision: Clinical and Functional Perspectives by Corn and Koenig.
In general, to measure a student’s oral reading rate and to get the number of words read per minute, record the number of seconds the student needs to read the passage. Divide the number of words in the passage by the number of seconds needed to read each selection, then multiply the quotient by 60 to determine words per minute. Alternatively, divide the number of words in the passage by the number of minutes spent reading to determine the words per minute.
It is very common for students with visual impairments to have a slower reading rate but the team should look at whether the student is making adequate progress from year to year and whether they can compete with sighted peers.
Basic Reading Inventory ("Johns") is a popular informal reading inventory. Large Print and Braille reading lists and reading passages are now available from APH. It helps determine a student's instructional, independent, and frustration reading levels & listening levels based on speed, accuracy, and comprehension. This tool helps determine the most effective literacy modalities for students with visual impairments.
A great resource on conducting Learning Media Assessments is the Texas School for the Blind (TSBVI) Learning Media Assessment.
Functional Vision & Learning Media Assessment (FVLMA) is an assessment tool, available from APH, that helps practitioners gather, store, track, and analyze information regarding students' functional vision and appropriate learning media.