The Wheldall Assessment of Reading Passages
A test of oral reading fluency
Reading fluency reflects a student’s automaticity in decoding. To read effectively and with understanding, students need to be able to decode words effortlessly so that they are not wasting cognitive capacity that could otherwise be deployed in making sense of what is being read. Reading fluency is a powerful predictor of overall reading progress.
The Wheldall Assessment of Reading Passages (or WARP) has been designed to identify low-progress readers, and to monitor their reading performance over time, using a test of oral reading fluency. It is a simple, quick, reliable and valid reading test.
Students read for just one minute from specially written 200-word passages, which have been designed to be of similar difficulty level. The number of words read correctly in that minute is a measure of the student’s level of oral reading fluency.
The WARP has been shown to correlate very highly with more general measures of reading accuracy as well as reading comprehension. The passages are presented in a consistent way each time, following set procedures.
Although the WARP has not been standardized in the traditional sense, provisional WARP benchmarks have been provided to help identify students who are falling behind. If a student is performing in the bottom 25% for his/her grade level this would indicate that additional instructional support is needed. During and following intervention, the WARP can be used to monitor progress and the WARP chart provides a quick and simple means of illustrating the progress a student is making.
As the WARP can be used both for screening as well as for measuring students’ ongoing progress, it provides teachers with an early-warning signal identifying those students who may require additional intervention.
Who is it for?
The WARP is generally suitable for students at a reading level in the range Year 2 to Year 5. Because the WARP requires a child to read passages of text, younger students will generally find it too difficult whereas ceiling effects are likely to be present with more proficient students after Year 5. However, this assessment will be a very useful tool for measuring those older low-progress readers in upper primary, early secondary grades.
It is very simple and straightforward to administer and so it could be administered by almost anyone. It is, however, designed for use by teachers and other professionals who have some expertise in the area of reading so that the interpretation of WARP scores is based upon a sound knowledge of the reading process and reading instruction.
How does the WARP relate to Response to Intervention
Assessment is an important part of a Response to Intervention (RtI) model, as educators need to determine when students need more intensive instruction (and also, when they no longer require intensive instruction).
This assessment must be conducted frequently (and therefore quickly), and must be a valid measure of an entire academic area (in this case, reading). Curriculum-based measurement satisfies these criteria, and as the WARP is a curriculum-based measure of reading, it can be used for this purpose.
Within an RtI model, the WARP can be used for screening, progress monitoring, and instructional decision-making.
Key features include:
- it is quick and easy to administer
- administration does not require special qualifications
- measures real reading in its natural context, not just lists of single words
- passages have been specifically designed to be of similar difficulty level
- can be used to screen large groups to identify those at-risk of falling behind
- can be used to monitor the progress of individual low-progress readers on a regular basis (ie weekly), allowing for adjustment to instruction
- may be used for longer term monitoring over several school years
- includes easy to use benchmark/cut-off scores
- access to a special record-keeping and charting tool to track students’ progress
The WARP Kit consists of the following components:
- Presentation booklet, containing 3 different Initial Assessment Passages and 10 different Progress Monitoring Passages from which students read during the test
- Thirty Initial Assessment Passages Record Forms, sufficient for 30 students
- Fifteen Progress Monitoring Passages Record Forms, sufficient for 15 students. The form includes an area to manually chart a student’s progress
Please note: Both the Initial Assessment Passages Record Forms and the Progress Monitoring Passages Record Forms can only be used once and will need to be replaced once the Forms provided in the Kit have been used.
In addition to the Kit, a specifically developed tool for the management and charting of student test scores is provided. This tool is located in the Members’ Area on the MultiLit website (multilit.com) and will be available to anyone who purchases the WARP.
Information for teachers
Both the Initial Assessment and the Progress Monitoring Assessment are carried out on a one-to-one basis between the tester and the student. The Initial Assessment should take no longer than 5 minutes (as it involves reading three passages of 1 minute each and averaging the three results) but the Progress Monitoring Assessment should take no longer than 1 minute per assessment.
The reading passages have been deliberately designed to be as similar as possible in terms of difficulty level and unlike other similar tests they can be used across all grade levels (Years 2 to 5), making the WARP very easy to implement in a school environment.
Although no specific PD is required to successfully implement the WARP, a one-day Measuring Student Reading Progress for Schools for teachers is available and practitioners are highly recommended to enrol in this to further their skills and understanding of the purpose of reading assessment. This Workshop will provide participants with the knowledge to make instructional decisions based on data to screen and monitor students who are falling behind in reading. Administration of the WARP will be included in this workshop.
Information for parents
The WARP is used with students who attend the MultiLit Literacy Centre. The WARP is an important part of the initial and post testing assessment battery of reading assessment and provides useful information for planning student programs. The WARP is also used to monitor the progress of students in Year 2 and above who are enrolled in a 10-week program.
Teachers who are using the WARP in schools can discuss your child’s test results with you and provide advice about whether additional instructional support is needed. When such additional support is required and offered by the school, your child’s ongoing WARP results can be provided in chart form, a quick and simple means of illustrating the progress your child is making.
Work on the WARP commenced at Macquarie University Special Education Centre (MUSEC) in 1995 with a view to develop a literacy skills test that provided a means of tracking reading progress, particularly of low-progress readers, to a level that represents functional literacy.
This resulted in a set of generic 200-word passages, each comprising an entire story, of roughly equal difficulty. These passages were trialled with children in many schools.
Subsequently, the WARP has been the subject of several empirical studies to establish its technical characteristics. This involved thousands of children at different grade levels (Years 2 to 5), and has established the WARP passages as both highly reliable and valid indicators of overall reading performance.
These studies detailed the continuing development of parallel passages, the collection of grade ‘norms’ or benchmarks, the establishment of the test’s reliability and validity, the exploration of gender differences, and so on. A list of published studies can be found in the Manual.
This data was then used to estimate the average score for the various year groups as well as the cut off score on the WARP for each Year that indicates critically low reading performance.
- Who is the WARP designed for?
The WARP has been designed to assess and monitor the reading performance of children. It is generally suitable for students at a reading level between Year 2 to Year 5
- Can anyone administer the WARP or do you need to have special qualifications?
It is designed for use by teachers and other professionals who have some expertise in the area of reading. It is, however,very simple and straightforward so it could be administered by almost anyone. Although no specific training is required to successfully implement the WARP, attendance at the one-day Measuring Student Reading Progress for Schools Workshop is highly recommended.
- Does the WARP really take only one minute to administer?
Each WARP passage is read for just one minute but the initial assessment is based on the average performance over the three ‘baseline’ passages for greater accuracy and takes about five minutes.
- Should Progress Monitoring tests be administered at the same time of day each time?
There is no need to be too strict about this but try to keep as close as possible to a weekly interval between testings but one day either side is unlikely to make much difference.
- Is the WARP reliable? And is it a valid measure of reading?
Numerous studies published in refereed academic journal articles have confirmed that the WARP is both highly reliable and a valid measure of reading. The Manual includes a listing of these studies.
- Is the WARP standardised?
The WARP is standardised in the sense that it is predicated upon a standard set of passages consistently administered in a standard way. It is not, however, norm-referenced.
- What will the WARP results tell me?
It will provide an indication of how well a child is reading compared to the average performance level for students who have experienced the same amount of reading instruction (years and terms).
- Is it possible to get a reading age from the WARP?
No, reading ages are not provided
- How would you recommend teachers use the WARP to report to parents?
Teachers could use the WARP as an initial screening measure to identify low-progress readers. Parents should be informed if their child is performing in the bottom 25% for his/her grade level.
Pricing and purchasing the WARP
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