Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Psychology and Special Education

First Advisor

Nannette Commander, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Daphne Greenberg, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Claudia Flowers, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Andrew Roach, Ph.D.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a controversial test administration alteration, the read-aloud alteration, in which text (passages and questions) is read aloud to the student on a reading comprehension test. For students whose disabilities impair their skill in decoding text and reading fluently, accessing text to demonstrate their comprehension can be significantly impeded. Using a quasi-experimental design, this study examined whether the comprehension scores for students with disabilities with certain characteristics improved with the read-aloud alteration. Participants were fourth-grade Georgia public school students (N=664) enrolled during the 2005-2006 school year, with and without disabilities, who were administered the third-grade Reading Criterion-Referenced Competency Test under either the read-aloud or standard administration condition. A 20-question survey was completed for each special education student who participated by the educator most familiar with the student’s educational program. Several moderator variables, such as reading achievement as measured by an external criterion (the reading comprehension subtest of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills), the degree of the student’s disability, as rated by the teacher, and individualized educational program features such as the presence of a decoding objective and time spent in the general education classroom, were investigated. These moderator variables were hypothesized to help better identify students with disabilities who might need and benefit from the read-aloud alteration. Students given the read-aloud alteration achieved higher raw score gains on the posttest than those assessed under the standard condition regardless of their disability status (students with or without disabilities). No interactions were identified between the moderator variables studied and test condition, with the exception of testing condition (standard / read loud) and reading skill (below average, average, or above average). Regardless of disability status, students who were provided the read-aloud alteration and were classified as having below average reading skills on the norm-reference ITBS had higher gain scores than their peers.

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