Study Guide

Field 065: Literacy

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Sample Selected-Response Questions

Competency 0001
Foundations of Language and Literacy Development

1. The results of longitudinal studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of skilled and dyslexic readers while reading best support which conclusion about dyslexia?

  1. Most children tend to outgrow dyslexia naturally as the brain matures, regardless of the presence or absence of remediation.
  2. Specific environmental factors are closely correlated with dyslexia, which can be ameliorated by minimizing exposure to these factors as early as possible.
  3. Dyslexia has a neurological basis that can be treated effectively through explicit and intensive instructional intervention.
  4. Children who experience early onset of dyslexia are less likely to require intervention than children whose onset comes in middle or late childhood.
Answer
Correct Response: C. This item requires examinees to demonstrate knowledge of current research on reading processes. Longitudinal research studies by Sally Shaywitz, M.D. and others using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare skilled and dyslexic readers at different stages of development have confirmed that a key neural signature for dyslexia is underactivation of neural systems in the posterior of the brain. This "wiring glitch" is present in young children with dyslexia from the very start of reading and persists throughout adolescence and adulthood. However, these same studies have shown that effective reading interventions result not only in improved reading for children with dyslexia but also in brain repair.

Competency 0002
Foundations of Literacy Instruction and Assessment

2. Early in the school year, a literacy specialist gathers evidence of a student's reading performance from a variety of sources including standardized test scores, results of screening and diagnostic assessments administered by the student's classroom teacher(s), and representative work samples. This would be an appropriate first step to take for which assessment purpose?

  1. determining whether a targeted intervention is having a positive effect on the student's literacy development
  2. evaluating the alignment of the student's intervention plan with grade-level literacy benchmarks
  3. developing an individual profile of the student's strengths and needs in multiple dimensions of literacy
  4. determining the student's rate of progress toward achieving specific literacy standards
Answer
Correct Response: C. This item requires examinees to apply knowledge of the importance of using a variety of assessment results to identify reading difficulties and determine appropriate interventions for all students. Both the timing and the types of assessments described in this scenario provide key information to help answer the question. Early in the school year, a reading specialist gathers a broad range of formal and informal assessment evidence related to a particular student's reading performance. By combining an analysis of the student's standardized test scores with an analysis of his/her work and the results from screening and diagnostic assessments, the specialist can develop a comprehensive description, or profile, of the student's current knowledge, skills, and abilities related to literacy. Gathering assessment evidence is the first step in the process of identifying the student's strengths and needs in order to plan effective differentiated literacy instruction and interventions.

Use the information below to answer the two questions that follow.

In January, a literacy specialist conducts a variety of informal reading assessments with a third-grade student who is experiencing reading difficulties. The student has received a series of Tier 2 interventions by her classroom teacher that emphasized explicit remedial phonics instruction and repeated-reading activities (e.g., rereading an assigned text up to four times, timing and graphing each reading). However, the teacher reports that the student is not making sufficient and meaningful progress toward grade-level goals in reading.

In this particular assessment, the literacy specialist asks the student to read aloud from an unfamiliar grade-level passage (Flesch-Kincaid grade level 3.5). As the student reads, the specialist makes notes about her performance on a separate copy of the text. Immediately following the oral reading, the specialist has the student reread the passage silently and then asks the student several comprehension questions. The specialist's annotated copy of the passage appears below.

Competency 0002
Foundations of Literacy Instruction and Assessment

3. Based on an analysis of the student's reading performance on this assessment, future interventions designed to improve the student's decoding skills should focus primarily on developing the student's

  1. knowledge of English inflectional endings and ability to segment morphologically complex words into their component parts
  2. recognition of common long-vowel and short-vowel phonics/spelling patterns and basic letter combinations (e.g., consonant digraphs)
  3. knowledge of basic English syllabication patterns (e.g., closed, open, r-controlled) and ability to apply syllabic analysis skills
  4. recognition of high-frequency irregular words and advanced phonics elements (e.g., complex vowel teams, medial consonant clusters)
Answer
Correct Response: D. This item requires examinees to apply knowledge of assessments in foundational reading skills, including interpreting and using results from these assessments to plan instruction and interventions in phonics and word analysis. The assessment evidence presented suggests that sight-word recognition and knowledge of advanced phonics elements are two serious areas of need for this student. The student misreads several high-frequency irregular words that should be automatic (i.e., sight words) by or before third grade (e.g., thought, gone, could, watch, together, through). In addition, the student has difficulty decoding most words that contain consonant clusters (e.g., Shondra, strange, Patch, explains, watch) and completely omits words that contain complex vowel teams (e.g., neighbor, delighted). As with the sight words, the student should have mastered these advanced phonics elements by this time (January of third grade).

Competency 0004
Reading & Writing: Foundational Skills

4. The assessment evidence most strongly suggests that instruction designed to improve the student's reading fluency should focus on which component of fluency first?

  1. accuracy
  2. automaticity
  3. rate
  4. prosody
Answer
Correct Response: A. This item requires examinees to demonstrate knowledge of factors that can disrupt fluency. The student's accuracy in this assessment is 87%. This is well below the level necessary for the student to make meaning from the passage, which is confirmed by the fact that the student could only answer half the comprehension questions correctly. The student's accuracy must improve first before focusing on other components of fluency.

Competency 0003
Role of the Literacy Professional

5. At the middle and high school levels, differentiated instruction for students who are experiencing reading difficulties should take place in which instructional setting?

  1. in reading intervention classes only
  2. in both general education classes and reading intervention classes
  3. in general education classes only
  4. in general education classes at the middle school level and reading intervention classes at the high school level
Answer
Correct Response: B. This item requires examinees to apply knowledge of components and features of effective evidence-based intervention programs for struggling readers and writers. Students who are experiencing reading difficulties require differentiated instruction that builds on their strengths while addressing their specific area(s) of need. At the middle school and high school levels, this is not just important in reading intervention classes. Content-area teachers also need to differentiate instruction to ensure that struggling readers develop skill in disciplinary reading. Promoting reading development is a shared responsibility for all teachers who work with struggling readers.

Competency 0004
Reading & Writing: Foundational Skills

6. A literacy specialist shows a small group of second-grade students the following pairs of words.

hiding
robot
stages
hidden
robber
stagger

These word pairs would be most appropriate to use as examples in a targeted intervention designed to promote students' recognition of

  1. the difference between denotative and connotative word meanings
  2. the distinguishing features of regular open and closed syllables
  3. the difference between inflectional and derivational morphemes
  4. the distinguishing features of continuant and stop phonemes
Answer
Correct Response: B. This item requires examinees to demonstrate knowledge of phonics and syllabication and to apply knowledge of effective, developmentally appropriate, data-driven instruction and intervention to promote students’ development of knowledge and skills related to phonics. The specialist clearly chose the word pairs hiding and hidden, robot and robber, and stages and stagger because of their similarities—in all three pairs, both words begin with the same three or four letters and both words contain two syllables—which make it easier for the specialist to point out the words' differences. An analysis of the differences between the words in each pair reveals that in each case the first word contains a single medial consonant, while the second word contains the same consonant doubled. Not coincidentally, the first syllable of the first word ends in a vowel, while the first syllable of the second word ends in a consonant. In addition, the vowel in the first syllable of the first word is always long, while the vowel in the first syllable of the second word is always short. The distinguishing features of an open syllable are the syllable ends in a vowel and the vowel is long. The distinguishing features of a closed syllable are the syllable ends in a consonant and the vowel is short.

Competency 0005
Text Complexity and Text Comprehension

7. A tenth-grade biology text contains the following passage, which is representative of the text's overall complexity.

The cerebrum is the part of the human brain associated with conscious thought. Its structure consists of two hemispheres that are connected by a group of neurons called the corpus callosum.

Which feature of this passage contributes most to its complexity and would likely make the text challenging for tenth-grade students who are struggling readers?

  1. The text uses a significant number of Tier Two and Tier Three words.
  2. The text has multiple levels of meaning.
  3. The text's syntactic structures are unusual and complicated.
  4. The text's purpose is unclear.
Answer
Correct Response: A. This item requires examinees to apply knowledge of text complexity. In the representative sample of the text, each sentence includes words that are likely to be challenging to students who are struggling readers. Tier Two words in the passage include associated, conscious, structure, consists, and hemispheres. Tier Three words include cerebrum, neurons, and corpus callosum.

Competency 0006
Reading & Writing: Different Types of Text

8. A literacy specialist is working with a small group of third-grade students who are struggling writers and who therefore tend to write very little. The specialist wants to teach the students a prewriting technique to help promote and stimulate their writing fluency. Which technique is best designed for this purpose?

  1. freewriting
  2. outlining
  3. self-questioning
  4. semantic mapping
Answer
Correct Response: A. This item requires examinees to apply knowledge of strategies for supporting instruction and intervention to promote students' skill in composing. Freewriting is a technique in which students write nonstop for a period of time, such as five or ten minutes. The topic can be assigned or self-selected, or the teacher may show students a visual stimulus such as a photograph. The point is to encourage students to catch the flow of their thoughts without worrying about spelling and other aspects of writing that may cause a struggling writer to "freeze up." Freewriting may be used as an end in itself to encourage writing fluency, or students may use the ideas they generated as the foundation for a piece that they continue to work on.

Competency 0007
Language and Vocabulary Development

9. A middle school literacy specialist is working with a small group of struggling readers who are having difficulty comprehending and retaining new content-specific vocabulary words that are related in meaning (e.g., planetary satellite, comet, asteroid). Which instructional strategy would be most effective in helping the students distinguish nuances of meaning between different but related words?

  1. having the students work with a partner to construct and complete a cloze exercise
  2. encouraging the students to develop the habit of looking up the etymology of new words
  3. modeling how to recognize and blend multisyllabic words into pronounceable syllables
  4. showing the students how to construct a semantic features analysis chart
Answer
Correct Response: D. This item requires examinees to apply knowledge of effective, developmentally appropriate, data-driven instruction and intervention in word study. In a semantic features analysis chart, students compare and contrast related words according to specific features. The target words are listed under the first column of the chart and the features become the headings of the succeeding columns. For example, the words planetary satellite, comet, and asteroid all relate to objects in space, so the column headings might include features such as orbits a larger object, reflects light from another object, is spheroidal in shape, and is gaseous. Students complete the chart using plus (+) and minus (–) signs to indicate whether an object has a particular feature. A planetary satellite, for example, would have a plus sign under orbits a larger object, reflects light from another object, and is spheroidal in shape, and would have a minus sign under is gaseous. Meanwhile, a comet would have a plus sign under orbits a larger object and reflects light from another object, but it would have a minus sign under is spheroidal in shape and would have both plus and minus signs under is gaseous. By analyzing the objects' distinguishing features and marking them on the semantic analysis chart, students develop a greater depth of understanding of new academic vocabulary.