the DRA--A Balanced Approach Assessment
The Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA), developed by Joetta Beaver (1988), is a
measurement tool used by teachers who believe that reading involves meaning, language context, prediction, anticipation and graphophonics (Williams, 1999).Since the DRA is presently the closest assessment to the actual reading process, teachers can use the information to not only monitor student progress, but to learn what their next teaching move should be. The DRA provides teachers with information regarding which strategies the student is using and which strategies need to be reviewed. Additionally, teachers can determine if students need instruction in areas of comprehension such as retelling, adding details, sequencing events, and main ideas (Williams, 1999).
Teachers receive information from the DRA on a studentís fluency and word accuracy in addition to determining a studentís instructional reading level. When analyzing a studentís oral reading, teachers can determine whether the student needs to work on particular areas such as increasing the number of known high frequency words or areas needing review in phonics (Williams, 1999).
The major purpose of the DRA is to help guide instruction. Ninety-eight percent of the teachers and raters agreed to the statement that the information gained about the reader during the DRA conference helped them better identify things that the child needed to do or learn next (Williams, 1999).
The DRA is both valid and reliable according to research conducted by Williams (1999). DRA instructional reading levels demonstrated a strong correlation with the Iowa Test of Basic Skills Total Reading subscale for one large urban/suburban school district. This evidence adds strength to the belief that the DRA validly measures a childís ability to decode and understand/comprehend what he/she has read. The DRA is an authentic performance based assessment in which children are responding to real text through retelling (Williams, 1999).
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