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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


The Effect of Reducing Attention Demands on Standardized Reading Test Performance

Kristen E. DiCerbo.

Quantifying student achievement has gained the interest of policy makers and the public. A significant portion of this interest focuses on reading achievement tests. While these may seem like simple assessment tasks, educational psychologists have long been aware that comprehension ability depends upon a multiplicity of complex perceptual, linguistic, affective and cognitive processes. The present research examined just one of the processes, namely attention, and its link to reading comprehension test performance. It is possible that when test length and attention demands are reduced, test performance may improve. This hypothesis was examined using third graders and a common standardized reading comprehension test.

The participants were 939 students. All participants completed equivalent forms of the Stanford 9, Primary 3, Reading Comprehension test, the first in one session and the second in divided-time sessions. For the divided-time sessions, one group of teachers administered the test on two days with passages, questions, and administration time divided approximately in half. Another group of teachers administered the test across three days with passages and questions divided equally into thirds. Overall, a significant effect for time indicated that subjects’ scores were twelve scaled score points higher for the divided-time administration than for the one-time administration. Further analysis revealed little effect for high achieving readers, moderate effect for middle achieving readers, and large effect for low achieving readers.


Kristen E. DiCerbo  (United States)

College of Education
Arizona State University

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Attention
  • Standardized Testing

(30 min Conference Paper, English)