Helping Students Read Test Passages2Though I am only in my second year of teaching, I am willing to hypothesize that everyEnglish teacher wonders at one point or another how to get his or her students to read more.Personally, I wonder this on a daily, perhaps even hourly, basis. Like many other urban teachers,most of my 10
graders come to me reading on a middle school level and many below that. Iknow that if they had been reading more as they grew up and went through their schooling, theywould not be in this situation. When my students come up against their standardized test inApril, it will include readings on a higher level than most of my students are prepared for. Ispend much of my year, particularly the 3
quarter, preparing students for the DC-CAS readingtest. With the aforementioned problem of lack of reading skills in mind, my main concern is thatmy students actually try to read the passages on the test. If I had a nickel for every time I asked astudent about his/her thinking on a particular question he/she missed on a practice drill and thestudent replied, “I just didn’t read the passage,” or, “This was boring, I just guessed,” I couldretire on the money I would have. My students lack the patience and tenacity to deal with drytesting passages that are in some cases above their comprehension level. In short, my actionresearch question is, how do I get my students to engage in reading passages so that they get testquestions right?My exploration of this topic boils down to three major factors, which are the center of myresearch. First, there is the component of the test itself. Students have varying attitudes towardtaking tests, and their investment in the test—whether or not they care about their results—iscritical to their success or failure, I think.The second major component of reading test performance is comprehension. Studentsmust understand the reading if they are going to get the questions right.