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GCSE Reading Ages

Discussion in 'Assessment' started by chatmaw, Sep 28, 2018.

  1. chatmaw

    chatmaw New commenter


    Can anyone help, please?

    I'm doing a piece of work about reading ages and the impact on student outcomes and was wondering if anyone has calculated the reading age needed to access the new GCSE exams? (The average or any in particular).

    Anecdotally, I've heard that the reading age needed for some history exams last year was seventeen.

    Are there guidelines for exam boards about what the reading age of a given GCSE exam has to be?

    Thanks in advance for any help.
  2. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    If you're calculating the reading age of an exam, there presumably ought to be some adjustment for subject-specific language that is part of what was taught. Those terms probably push the reading age up, and it would be interesting to calculate the reading age with those terms taken out.
  3. OneLooseCrank

    OneLooseCrank Occasional commenter

    My only observation is that the Renaissance Learning; Star Reader tests many schools use 'top out' at 16 years and 6 months... Their point is that a student with this level of reading is reading above the national average and it's difficult to index levels higher than this. So... I'm not sure that a reading age of 17 is accurate. The students we have that are at the top of the Star Reader assessment are very very capable readers.
    I'd be very interested to know a firm answer to what level of literacy is the minimum needed to fully access the GCSE exams though... I wait with baited breath.
  4. Lucy2711

    Lucy2711 Occasional commenter

    The outcomes of readability analyses vary a great deal depending on the measure used. Even what are called 3rd generation measures (using computer-generated algorithms) are variable and influenced by subject-specific language.
    The older ones were usually based on material originally written for adults - I seem to remember one was based on the readability of technical manuals used by US military!
    16y6m is about the average age for the end of compulsory schooling so that's why some tests stop there. I'm not sure that it's possible to distinguish reliably between reading competence from about age 14 upwards as it's all down to interpretation and readability analyses don't deal with that.
  5. IlMentore

    IlMentore New commenter

    Anecdotally? I have consistently seen students with C or 4 on GCSE English who tested as having a reading age of about 12.6 according to the (crappy) test we have to run every year on incoming students.

    That said, I have had too many prospective students openly admit that their English teachers wrote the answers on a bit of paper for them to copy into the answer booklets, but that is a whole other issue...

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