Low scores for Exact word recognition or reading comprehension can help to identify students who have reading difficulties that may require support in examinations. When assessing larger groups of students, a time-saving strategy would be to administer Exact to all students. As difficulties with reading are sometimes not as apparent in the classroom as difficulties with writing or speed of working, this has the benefit of highlighting students whose reading difficulties have not been identified previously.
Exact reading comprehension accuracy and word recognition can be used to screen for reading difficulties which may require support in examinations. However, assessment evidence in Part 2 of Form 8 is not required for a student to have the support of a reader in examinations.
The Exact reading comprehension speed is one of a very few tests which assess the time it takes a learner to read and actually understand a passage, as opposed to simply reading it the first time. The Joint Council for Qualifications ‘Access Arrangements and Readable Adjustments’ document (AARA) explains the difference between the two [2019-20, Section 7.5.10]. Slow reading speed is where a learner takes longer than expected to decode the words the first time they read – either aloud or silently. Slow reading comprehension speed is where a learner needs to re-read text many times in order to absorb its meaning. The latter is clearly a disadvantage in a timed assessment, and the Exact is a very useful tool that assessors can use to confirm the need for extra time where a candidate scores less than 85 on the reading comprehension speed subtest.
Exact has quite a wide range of application in addition to assessment for exam access arrangements, e.g.
(a) Exact is appropriate for assessing students with specific learning difficulties in, secondary, further or higher education, or for teachers wishing to obtain a standardised objective assessment of literacy for groups of students from ages 11-24, or for individual students within that age range who have specific problems (such as slow handwriting, spelling or reading comprehension).
(b) Although individual tests from Exact may be helpful in suggesting dyslexia, or may form part of a dyslexia assessment, this group of tests are not sufficient in themselves to make a diagnosis of dyslexia and are not designed for that purpose. Administrators who require a test that will screen for dyslexia should consider using LASS 11-15 (for the age range 11:0 – 15:11) or LADS / LADS Plus (for ages 16 and upwards).
(c) Exact has two forms of equivalent difficulty – Form A and Form B. This allows for repeated assessment if desired, without undue concern about practice effects and without violating psychometric principles. The two forms can be alternated over time in order to record progress, e.g. in response to intervention given to students with literacy difficulties.
The program checks whether the student has devoted a reasonable amount of time to the reading comprehension passages. If a student has completed the reading comprehension test in less than eight minutes the results should be regarded as ‘doubtful’, i.e. it is unlikely that proper consideration has been given to the answers, and hence the scores will be unreliable and should not (on their own) be used as meaningful evidence for exam access arrangements. If a student completes the reading comprehension test in less than five minutes, the results should be regarded as ‘impossible’, i.e. the student has answered the comprehension passages so quickly that it is impossible for them to have given proper consideration to the answers, and hence the scores are not safe to be used as evidence for any purpose (see Section 3.1.2 of the Exact Manual for guidance on this).
The results from all the tests in Lucid Exact are based on standardised norms derived from a representative national sample, and are for the whole of each test. In other words, failing to answer all the questions in the reading comprehension test undoubtedly affects the outcome, but that does not necessarily invalidate the results.
By checking the time the student has devoted to the task and the number of questions attempted the administrator can determine whether or not the student made a serious attempt or not, and consequently how the results should be treated.
(a) If the time taken on the test was between eight and ten minutes then the result is will generally to be an accurate reflection of the student’s reading comprehension skills.
(b) If less than eight minutes but not less than five minutes the result could be an acceptable reflection of the student’s reading comprehension skills but the administrator should to bear in mind that it could be unreliable and so further investigation will be necessary.
(c) If less than five minutes the result is almost certainly unreliable, in which case the administrator would be well advised to repeat this test having provided appropriate guidance to the student regarding how the test should properly be attempted (see Section 3.1.2 of the Lucid Exact Administrator’s Manual for further advice on this matter).