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Frequently Asked Questions:
- What is the DRA, Fountas and Pinnell and/or Guided Reading Level of the books in QuickReads (QR)?
- What is the relationship between the QuickReads levels and lexiles?
- How is QReads different from Quick Reads?
- In the first step of the QuickReads instructional routine, students read silently. I thought the NRP found that guided oral reading improves fluency but silent reading does not.
- How effective has the QuickReads program been with special education students, especially ones with learning disabilities?
- For QuickReads and QReads, how are the Target Rates (words per minute) established at each level? What is the research behind this?
- Where can I find the research base behind the instructional routine of QReads?
- Q. What is the DRA, Fountas and Pinnell and/or Guided Reading Level of the books in QuickReads (QR)?
A. QuickReads was developed based on Dr. Hiebert's research-based text model: TExT (see chapter 1 of QuickReads Research Compendium) and features a specially designed, research-based curriculum and vocabulary base. The Program Overview provides the QuickReads Curriculum in the table on page 4. It was developed especially for fluency development and active fluency instruction. DRA Levels indicate the appropriate level for students to read independently while QuickReads levels indicate the appropriate level for fluency instruction and independent, scaffolded reading-and two should not be confused.
Since Pearson also is the publisher for the DRA, there has been coordination between the two leveling systems. However, Hiebert has written extensively about text difficulty (see Farstrup and Samuels 2002 book: What research has to say). She developed the QuickReads in response to the fact that the current text difficulty systems don't focus on the "cognitive load"--i.e., the number of new words in a text, the number of times they are repeated, and their characteristics.
For example, when writing a text with the word "zooplankton" in it-based on the model of text difficulty that underlies QuickReads-this word will be repeated several times in a passage as well as across passages. Further, we ensure that there aren't another 10 words of this type in the same passage (or for that matter, more than 1 additional word of this complexity--both in terms of meaning and also in terms of its multisyllabic structure). The emphasis of the Fountas and Pinnell guided reading levels is on other variables....the philosophy of the two systems is somewhat different. We have worked hard to make the overall texts of QuickReads engaging and very well structured in terms of style. However, in that the initial work with the DRA and Fountas/Pinnell was done with narrative (and QuickReads are completely informational), there are differences.
- Q. What is the relationship between the QuickReads levels and lexiles?
A. The model of text difficulty underlying QuickReads is much more specific than the method used to determine lexiles. Lexile measures are based on two predictors of how difficult a text is to comprehend: semantic difficulty (word frequency) and syntactic complexity (sentence length). QuickReads texts have not been manipulated for sentence length, and they include 98% high-frequency words and grade-appropriate phonic/syllabic patterns to promote fluency along with 2% content-rich vocabulary words which are repeated for reinforcement. If a student is able to recognize but is not automatic with the 500 most frequent words and simple, long, and r-controlled vowel patterns in single-syllable words, then Level B of QuickReads is appropriate. Level B of QuickReads was written so that 98% of the words in the texts come from the 500 most frequent words and words with simple, long, and r-controlled vowel patterns (in words with single syllables). Students should be assigned a QuickReads level based on the word list and phonic/syllabic patterns they need to practice to develop automaticity.
Having studied hundreds of lexiled texts, QuickReads author Freddy Hiebert posts that if word difficulty by itself was used and not manipulations of sentence length, QuickReads would fall at approximately these lexile levels:
- Level A: Lexiles of approximately 300
- Level B: Lexiles of approximately 400
- Level C: Lexiles of approximately 500
- Level D: Lexiles of approximately 600
- Level E: Lexiles of approximately 700-850
- Level F: Lexiles of approximately 860-975
- Q. How is QReads different from Quick Reads?
A. QReads is different from QuickReads in that QReads has 2 new subjects (Arts & Culture, and Literature & Language). It was also designed to address the interest level for middle and high school students. We wanted a set of texts that high school students can use to increase their fluency rate and texts that also corresponded to the subjects they were learning about in their classes and have relevance in their lives as young adults.
We used the national standards in Fine Arts, Dance, Music, Economics, and high school required reading lists for topic ideas. In terms of text difficulty, the levels A-F in QReads still follows the guideline of the number of high frequency words, and phonics and syllable patterns established in QuickReads level A-F.
- Q. In the first step of the QuickReads instructional routine, students read silently. I thought the NRP found that guided oral reading improves fluency but silent reading does not.
A.Yes, the National Reading Panel (NRP) did report that guided repeated oral reading of texts led to improved reading fluency. With respect to silent reading, the NRP examined studies of a specific kind of silent reading: sustained silent reading (SSR). SSR has a long history and a particular form (Hunt, 1965). In SSR, students read independently from self-selected books for a specified period of time during which the teacher reads as well. There is no reporting or monitoring of students’ reading. The Panel was unable to find evidence that SSR improves fluent reading. It is important to note that the Panel did not find that SSR detracts from proficient reading. Even so, this conclusion of the NRP has spurred lots of discussion and debate.
This conclusion has also been misinterpreted to mean that students should not read silently. However, the NRP did not review any research on repeated silent reading of text or even silent reading a single time of multiple texts. Because of the controversy surrounding the NRP’s Yes, conclusions on SSR, several studies have been conducted on scaffolded silent reading. As the label in the title indicates, this form of silent reading involves supports for readers, including guidance from teachers on the texts that are read, periodic teacher monitoring to determine students’ progress and proficiency with the text, and accountability through responses or records of what has been read.
In one of the recent studies, Reutzel, Fawson, and Smith (in press) compared scaffolded silent reading with guided repeated oral reading. Reutzel and his colleagues found no significant differences on third graders’ fluency and comprehension with the two kinds of reading with one exception—a significant difference favoring the scaffolded silent reading group in expression of a single passage. These researchers concluded that scaffolded silent reading represents a companion to guided repeated oral reading for promoting fluency and comprehension.
In a study conducted by S. Jay Samuels (co-chair of the NRP sub-committee on fluency who believed that the Panel’s conclusions about silent reading required bolstering) and Yi-Chen Wu (2004), scaffolded silent reading proved to have a significant effect on students’ word recognition, vocabulary, and comprehension. In particular, poor readers showed significantly greater gains in word recognition and vocabulary than good readers as a result of scaffolded silent reading.
A third study by Kuhn and her colleagues (2006) compared the effects of guided repeated oral reading of a single text for a week with reading of several texts that included some guided repeated oral reading and silent reading (much like the QuickReads instructional procedure). Students in the latter group (called wide reading) had greater text reading fluency compared to control students (and the guided repeated oral reading group with a single text did not). The same pattern of results was found in a subsequent replication.
The combination of guided repeated oral reading and silent reading in the QuickReads instructional routine reflects this solid research base. The inclusion of silent reading also means that students apply their fluency to the silent reading context—the context that characterizes the reading that is most typically done (even in school assessments). The QuickReads routine of guided oral and scaffolded silent reading is research-based and ensures that students are prepared to be fluent in the many silent reading tasks of school and beyond.
- Q. How effective has the QuickReads program been with special education students, especially ones with learning disabilities?
A. The use of the QuickReads program is proven to be effective with striving readers. In a study conducted independently of the publisher or developer of QuickReads and soon to be published in the prestigious journal, Journal of Educational Psychology, Vadasy and Sanders report that those students who began with below-grade-level word reading skill made the greatest gains in reading accuracy and fluency as a result of the QuickReads intervention.
These findings lead Vadasy and Sanders (in press) to design and implement another study that focused only on below-grade-level students in fourth and fifth grades. This study, which will soon be published in Remedial and Special Education, showed that below grade-level fourth and fifth graders achieved significantly higher on measures of vocabulary, word comprehension, and passage comprehension than the classroom controls as a result of the QuickReads intervention.
Additional evidence that the QuickReads program supports struggling readers comes from Hiebert (2005). In that study, students in the bottom quartile made substantially higher gains as a result of repeatedly reading QuickReads texts than those who read texts in basal anthologies (a gain of 42 words per minute for the QuickReads group; 17 for the basal anthology group). In another study, Hiebert (2006) reported that 38 percent of the students who had been in the bottom quartile moved into the second quartile as a result of the QuickReads intervention.
In all of these efforts, educators and students worked hard and extensively to support the reading growth of learning disabled students. These research studies show that the goal of meaningful and fluent reading is aided when learning disabled students read from accessible texts such as those in the QuickReads program. For more details on this topic, please see the position paper on QuickReads for Special Education Students.
- Q. For QuickReads and QReads, how are the Target Rates (words per minute) established at each level? What is the research behind this?
A. This is all based on the National Reading Panel research that established the target rates at each grade level. This information is in the Program Sampler, page 4 as well as page 13 of the QReads Teacher Guide.
- Q. Where can I find the research base behind the instructional routine of QReads?
A. Please refer to the QuickReads Research Compendium it is the same for QReads. The text model and instructional routine used in QReads are based on the research behind QuickReads-same model of text, same pedagogy featured in QuickReads but content that is appropriate for and relevant to middle and high school students.