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Reading Proficiency Test for

Secondary Education ELL Students

Hanan Alqarni and Lauren Porter

Colorado State University


Importance of Assessing Reading with Proficiency Tests

This reading proficiency test in an important assessment tool for English language

learners (ELLs) who are entering U.S. secondary public school education because

reading is an important skill to master in order to succeed in a middle or high school in

the U.S. Students will be required not only to read a variety of texts for class, but will

also be expected to read schedules and announcements in order to understand where and

when they need to be for classes, as well as events that are occurring in the school. The

ability to read in both contexts for secondary education- academic and social- will help

students to integrate into the public school system in the U.S.

It is important that a reliable, appropriate, and well-designed reading proficiency

test is created for ELLs in secondary education settings so that, as students filter in at

different times of the year, they can be assessed using a standard assessment and be

placed in the appropriate ELL classes. Additionally, in todays world, learning English

opens doors for personal, professional, and cultural development, so it is important to

assess where a learner is at in order to place them in the correct level of instruction. In the

U.S., ELLs who enter the public school system are at various levels of English

proficiency, so it is important to assess their reading proficiency as one measure of their

level, so that they are matched with appropriate instruction and materials.

There is a linguistic achievement gap between limited English proficiency (LEP)

students and English-proficient students (Thomas & Collier, 2002), but it is open to

debate whether or not this difference can be attributed to a lack of linguistic skills,

academic preparedness, or both (Lam, 1993; National Research Council, 1993).

However, despite the fact that that the differences in achievement are debated, the

important part for instructors to note is that there is an achievement gap. This reading

proficiency assessment aims to target assessment of students reading skills, in order to

place them in appropriate ELL classes to assist them with further reading proficiency and

skills and close this achievement gap for ELLs.

In general, ELLs are a growing population in the U.S., so it is imperative that we

address this demographic shift that is occurring in our schools. According to Callahan,

In Grades K-12, English learner enrollment increased by more than 104% during the

1990s, while overall enrollment increased by only 13%. The bulk of the growth in the K-

12 population can be attributed to students who are either immigrants or the children of

immigrants (2005, p. 305). While tests exist that assess learners proficiencies with

integrated skills (for example, TOEFL Junior and ACCESS), this reading proficiency test

is useful because it is practical, and it targets assessment of one skill for a more specific

interpretation of test scores.

The test is practical because it can be administered in one hour by one teacher or

paraprofessional, thus requiring minimal resources and time. The student can take this

test at the school, and it is free (aside from the cost of printing the test materials and the

payment of time for whoever grades it). Because it is a multiple-choice test, the grading

time is minimal. For this test, the format is selected-response questions because, although

selected-response items do have downsides, they are a common way to test text

comprehension (Alderson, 2000), and are a more practical testing format for the

Method of Organization of this Paper

This paper includes the introduction, a description of the test, including its

purpose, type, interpretation of scores, target language use (TLU) domain, construct

definition, design of the test (table of specifications), and the description of test tasks.

There is also a hypothetical pilot test procedure, including hypothetical participants,

administration, and scoring procedures, as well as hypothetical test results. These include

item statistics, descriptive statistics, reliability, and description of masters or non-masters.

There is also a discussion, with a critique of item performance, evaluation of the tests

usefulness, and a reflection. At the end of this paper there are references as well as

Appendices A-C. These are A) the TLU domain description B) Table of Specifications

and C) a copy of the test, scoring key, and answer sheet.

Description of Test


The purpose of this test is to assess students reading proficiency via targeted

assessment of different reading sub-skills. This reading proficiency test has a low-impact,

as it is used to place students into different levels of English instruction at the public

school. However, students do not receive an official grade from this test, nor does a

failing grade mean that they wont receive continued instruction- there is no admittance

to classes that is dependent on this score. Because different questions target different sub-

skills through the use of varying levels of text, (the texts get progressively more difficult

on the lexile index), the test can be used both to assess with which sub-skills, and with

which level of texts the students struggle with. Because the test is only a total of twenty

items, it can easily be reviewed to identify with which of these sub-skills and/or texts
students struggle with (especially by utilizing the table of specifications, see Appendix


Additionally, teachers can combine this selected-response test with other formal

or informal assessment tasks, including observations, self-reports, having students

complete an oral reading fluency test, and others in order to assess reading in multiple


As this proficiency test will best used for placement purposes, and is just one way

of assessing students reading abilities, it stands as a practical assessment because of its

ease of scoring.

Interpretation of Scores

The test will be scored as a criterion-referenced test. There is no cut-score, but

students will be placed into different levels based on their score. Because this test only

targets reading assessment, scores can be used to level students (beginner, intermediate,

advanced) and all of the sub-levels within those levels, but it can only be used to place

students in those levels based on reading. In other words, in order to get the most holistic

picture of the level where a student is at, he or she must also take other proficiency

assessments (or be alternatively assessed) in other areas/skills in order to have the most

accurate idea of his or her overall proficiency.

TLU Domain

The TLU domain for this test is both English and mainstream classes in U.S.

public education (secondary-middle and high school) settings. Based on their proficiency

level, students will be placed not only in different English for language learners classes,

but may also spend different amounts of time in mainstream classrooms, or in pathways
classrooms. For example, if a student is a beginner, he or she will be placed into a

beginner English classroom, and so the TLU domain is the language skills necessary for

that room- beginning writing, reading, listening, and speaking. However, if a student is an

advanced English speaker, he or she may or may not need any more instruction in

English for language learners classrooms, so the TLU domain for this individual would

be mainstream English, social studies, and science classes, etc. In general, no matter what

their proficiency level, students will need to accomplish academic tasks appropriate in

secondary education using all four skills, and will also need communication skills in

order to ask questions, ask for directions at the school, and to become involved in

extracurricular activities.

Construct Definition

This test assesses learners reading comprehension through identification of

important information, main-idea comprehension, and summary of the text. Basic literacy

skills are assumed. Listening, speaking, and writing skills are not included in this


Design of Test

A Table of Specifications serves as a way to specify what an assessment is

designed to measure (Miller, Linn, & Gronlund, 2009). This test, as can be seen in the

Table of Specifications (see Appendix B), tests learners reading comprehension through

identification of important information, main-idea comprehension, and summary of the


The Table of Specifications for this test shows the text, its word count and lexile

measure, which sub-skills it targets, how many questions per text target the different sub-
skills, and which questions on the test are used to do so. For example, (1.1) indicates that

a certain sub-skill is assessed in Part 1, Question 1. (1.2) would indicate Part 1, Question


Description of Test Tasks

There are 20 total selected-response questions. The test is formatted with selected-

response questions because, although selected-response items do have drawbacks, they

are a common way to test text comprehension (Alderson, 2000). Some drawbacks to

using selected-response questions are that sometimes students will guess an answer and

get it correct (which doesnt accurately represent their knowledge on the subject), some

students may develop strategies for answering selected-response questions, and that

students may be tricked into selecting inappropriate responses, which also doesnt

accurately reflect their knowledge (Alderson, 2000). Selected-response questions do hold

merit, as well. According to Miller, Linn, and Gronlund (2009), selected-response

(multiple-choice) items can measure knowledge of terminology, knowledge of facts,

ability to interpret cause-and effect relationships, and others. The range of knowledge,

and higher-level thinking skills, that can be tested via selected-response items

demonstrates that they can be a valuable way to test students understanding.

Additionally, selected-response items are flexible in the variety of knowledge that they

can assess, and they are able to cut down the vagueness- or subjectivity- of grading short-

answer questions (Miller, Linn, & Gronlund, 2009). Crafting a good selected-response

question takes practice and care; these selected-response questions were carefully

designed using suggestions from Miller, Linn, and Gronlund (2009), including, but not

limited to: not using negative stem items, using grammatically-correct alternative
answers, containing only one correct or clearly best answer, and including plausible


During the 1-hour test session, students will be tested on the following five texts: a

school schedule, a school announcement, two news articles, and one excerpt from a

popular book for teens/adolescents. The texts were chosen because they represent

authentic material that the students would likely come across when studying in an

American high school.

These authentic texts are sequenced so that they become progressively more

difficult, as can be noted in the lexile measure and word count of the different texts

chosen. The selected-response questions also target different sub-skills of reading,

including identification of important information, main-idea comprehension, and

summary of the text. The sub-skills targeted for each selected-response question are

shown in the Table of Specifications, above.

The first text (the Fort Collins High School Bell Schedule) is an image, with fewer

words on it, so test takers can rely on the chart to supplement and support reading skills.

The second text, an announcement from Fort Collins High School, is 97 words long, and

is accompanied by a chart to supplement reading skills. The chart below text two was

created by the test developers to help scaffold the text of the announcement. Text three,

the article The Job of the President, was obtained through The original

publication of the article came from and, and was adapted to a

lexile measure of 490L (grade level 2) by the newsela staff, and is 412 words long. Text

four, the article Effects of Climate Change: Hawaii and U.S. Tropical Islands is similar
to text three, and was obtained through The original publication of the

article came from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and was adapted to a lexile

measure of 600L (grade level 3) by the newsela staff, and is 517 words long. Text five is

an excerpt from the novel The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. This novel was chosen

because, according to, it is a popular novel among teens, and students

need to read books that are interesting for them in order to build reading stamina (Kittle,

2013). The excerpt chosen for this test is 451 words long, but the novel is graded at a

lexile measure of 810L (grade level 5). This is the highest-level text in this test, which is

why it was placed last.

The number of multiple choice questions varies for each text, and the multiple

choice questions are designed to assess different reading sub-skills that students need to

acquire to complete standards-based work in high schools. According to Grabe (2009),

there are many component abilities involved in reading comprehension, including the

three that are targeted in this test: main-ideas comprehension, recall of relevant details

(identification of important information), and summarization abilities. These sub-skills

are all targeted in the selected-response questions.

Description of text tasks

Students will first read the input (text) before responding to the questions. The

number of responses varies for the different texts, but it is expected that students first

read the selected text, and then respond to the multiple choice questions that follow.

Students can continuously refer back to the text as they work through the questions in

each section.
The test is organized into five parts, so that for each text (input), the selected-

response items correlating to that text are listed below it. The responses are based on

information found in the text, and target the reading sub-skills of identification of

important information, main-idea comprehension, and summary of text. The test-takers

have one hour to complete the test.

Each question is worth one point, for a total of 20 points. No partial-points will be

awarded for answers. Students will receive a score (number of correct items out of 20).

The instructor may interpret this score as norm-referenced if other learners are taking the

assessment at the same time, or to help in determining placement of student.

Pilot Test Procedure


The participants for the hypothetical administration of this assessment are ELLs

who are entering the public school system in the U.S. They are secondary students-

middle and high schoolers (6th-12th grade). Their ages range from approximately 12 to

18 years old. These students have varying levels of English proficiency, from low

beginner to advanced. The students who would be taking this test do have English classes

for ELLs, as well as supplementary English support at the school.


This assessment would be administered by a teacher, paraprofessional, or ELL

support instructor. The only required materials are a copy of the test, a pen, and the

scoring guide/answer key. The assessment could be administered in a room or area

separate from where the other students are studying in class. The students would have one

hour to complete the test. Because basic literacy skills are assumed, the students are not

allowed to ask questions or ask for help during the administration of the assessment.

Scoring Procedures

Students receive one 1 for a correct answer, and 0 points for an incorrect answer.

There are no partial scores given. The assessment is scored by the administrator after the

students have completed the assessment. Students raw scores can be reported to teachers,

administrators, ELL specialists, etc., and should be further reviewed, using the table of

specifications and the interpretation of scores sheet (see Appendices B and C), to see with

which questions the students are struggling. Different questions target different sub-skills

of reading, and are scaffolded, beginning with identification of important information,

main-idea comprehension, and then summary of text. These skills are progressively

harder, as students can locate specific explicit information when identifying important

information, but are required to make inferences or pull together more information when

summarizing. In this sense, when a scorer reviews the results, he/she can see with which

questions the students are struggling.

Test Results

Item Statistics

Item-analysis is the procedure by which someone can identify the difficulty of

each item, each test items discrimination power, and how effectively distracter items are

working. According to Miller, Linn, and Gronlund (2009), a simplified version of item
analysis is sufficient for classroom purposes (which is the case with this assessment). For

the purposes of this test, item analysis will be used to evaluate difficulty of each item as

well as each items discrimination power. For basic item analysis, depending on the

number of students/scores to be analyzed, all tests can be used for data, or the top quarter

of scores, and lowest quarter of scores, can be used. In groups of 20-40 students, it is

sufficient to use the top 10 scores (top 25%) and lowest 10 scores (lowest 25%), but in

classes fewer than 20, better data results from using all tests/scores available in the data

set (this would likely be the case for this reading proficiency test).

The first important piece of information that can be determined from item-

analysis is the difficulty level of the test item. This is achieved by calculating, for each

item, how many students answered correctly versus incorrectly. You take the total number

of correct responses divided by the total number of tests that you are using in your data

set, and your resulting percentage is your item difficulty. For example:

(P)= item difficulty

(R)= total number of students who answered correctly

(T)= total number of students who tried the item

P= 100R/T

The item discrimination power is the difference between the number of students

in the upper and lower groups (or data from higher-scored tests versus lower-scored tests)

in order to determine if the item is discriminating positively or negatively. If more

students in the upper group get the item right than the lower group, the item is
discriminating positively (desired), because this means that the item is discriminating in

the same way that the overall score of the test is. For example:

(D)= discrimination power

(RL)= number of students in lower group who get item right

(RU)= number of students in upper group who get item right

(T)= total number of students in item analysis

(D)= (RU-RL)/(.5T)

For this assessment, once multiple students had taken the test, the items could be

analyzed for difficulty, and discrimination. The more scores in the data set, the more

accurate the results, so it would be pertinent to wait to do item analysis until multiple

students have taken the test.

Descriptive Statistics

Descriptive statistics is used to describe data in simple formats, or summaries of

test results. Descriptive statistics are used to find results such as the central tendency

(average/mean) score on the test, measures of variability (range of test scores), the

frequency of scores, and the standard deviation (the average of the degree to which sets

of scores deviate from the average) (Miller, Linn, & Gronlund, 2009). Calculating

standard deviation helps one measure the variability and spread of scores from the mean,

and is an importance identification of variability in a test. Calculations are presented

Mean= sum of scores/number of scores in data set

Range= highest score- lowest score

Frequency= number of times each score was achieved

Steps to Calculating Variance (V):

1. Calculate Mean

2. Subtract Mean from each Raw Score

3. Square each difference score

4. Sum difference scores

5. Divide this sum by N-1

Standard Deviation (SD)= square root of variance

All of these calculations could be done using data from test scores once a

sufficient data set size has been accumulated. Descriptive statistics will also be more

accurate the higher N is.


Reliability is the consistency and stability of scores of tests. In other words, if the

same assessment is distributed multiple times, the scores would be (within a reasonable

range) the same. With a proficiency test, like this one, there should be a range of scores,

as this is an indication of proficiency, and makes the test results valid for its purpose
(assessment of proficiency). However, the range of scores should still be consistent over

time, indicating the tests reliability. To test reliability, a coefficient of correlation is used.

The coefficient of correlation represents the degree of relationship between two sets of

test scores, as expressed from the range -1.00 to +1.00. The ideal coefficient is as closet

to 1.00 as possible, but anything about .80 for this tests purpose is acceptable. The steps

for calculating the coefficient correlation are below:

1. Create a table with the a students test scores for the first time the test was taken

and the second time it was taken. X= first time score and Y= second time score.

2. Square each entry in column X, and enter in its own column.

3. Square each entry in column Y, and enter in its own column.

4. Multiple the entry in the X column and Y column (for each entry), and put the

result in its own column (XY).

5. Sum the entries in each column and note the number of pairs of scores (N).

Coefficient correlation (r)=

[EXY-(EX)(EY)/N] / square root of [EXsquared-(EX) (EX) / N] [EYsquared-


Description of masters/non-masters

For the purposes of this reading proficiency assessment, there is no cut-score

(masters and non-masters). While the test is scored as criterion-referenced, and students

do receive a raw score, the use is merely for placement, not as a pass/fail.

Critique of Item Performance

After multiple students have taken the reading proficiency assessment (ideally

over the span of years), the items could be analyzed for difficulty and discrimination

effectiveness using item analysis, and then compared to other years results. It is

important to remember that item discrimination power does not indicate that the item is

valid. In other words, just because an item has a positive discrimination power is not the

only justification for keeping the item. It is more important that the item is still assessing

the construct (in this case, one of the reading sub-skills). Additionally, there will be

varying levels of difficulty for items with this proficiency test, so it is important that item

analysis reveals a range of difficulty for these questions. This is important because the

items were designed so that some are more difficult (target higher-level reading skills)

than others.

Descriptive statistics is valuable to calculate whether or not the test scores are

reliable and valid, specifically by using the correlation coefficient.

Evaluation of Test Usefulness

Item and descriptive statistics would be used to determine if the test is useful in

discriminating scores as well as reliable. However, it is important to note that even if

items are discriminating in a positive way, that that doesnt mean they are valid unless

they match up with the test construct.

Because this reading assessment assesses students reading abilities, specifically

with the sub-skills of identification of important information, main-idea identification,

and summary of text, the test is only valid if the items used for assessment assess these

skills. With this reading test, it is clear that writing, listening, and speaking are not

assessed, so the tests validity increases because of that (as that aligns with the construct),

but items should be critiqued by multiple experts (and over time) to make sure that they

are assessing the sub-skills that are targeted.

The test is valid in the sense that it is assessing students reading proficiencies,

which are necessary in the TLU Domain. It is imperative that ELLs can read in the TLU

domain, in order to understand homework, read for homework, and navigate public

schools (by understanding announcements and schedules, etc.)

This test is useful because it is practical to implement, easy to score, and has a

low-impact on test takers. This is a low-stakes assessment, so students can take it

multiple times if anxiety or other factors affect them the first time they take it. Teachers

can also distribute the test to the same students multiple times if they want to assess

whether or not the student should move levels in English instruction (based on reading).

Additionally, because of the ease of administration and practicality, the assessment can

also be administered numerous times a year, which is important as different students will

be entering the school system at different points throughout the year.

This test achieves its purpose in terms of practicality of administration, but only

item statistics and descriptive statistics could quantitatively prove whether or not the test
is reliable and valid. However, the test does achieve its purpose of assessing reading

proficiency in a low-stakes manner.


Developing this test was important and useful, as we were able to put into practice

a variety of skills that wed learned throughout the year. Not only did we have to make

sure that our test was designed to match up with its purpose and use, but we also had to

design multiple-choice test items based on suggestions for doing so, and then to re-visit

item statistics and descriptive statistics in order to describe how the test could be

analyzed quantitatively for different qualities. Creating an assessment that is valid and

reliable is a difficult and time consuming process, and creating this reading proficiency

test was not only good practice, but also a nice reality-check for understanding what goes

into truly making a good assessment.



Alderson, J.C. (2000). Chapter 7: Techniques for testing reading. In Assessing

reading (pp. 202-270). New York: CUP.

Callahan, R.M. (2005). Tracking and high school English learners: Limiting

opportunity to learn. American Educational Research Journal, 42.

Grabe, W. (2009). Chapter 17: Reading assessment. In Reading in a second

language: Moving from theory to practice (pp. 352-375). Cambridge.

Kittle, P. (2013). Book love: Developing depth, stamina, and passion in

adolescent readers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Lam, T. C. (1993). Testability: A critical issue in testing language minority

students with standardized achievement tests. Measurement and

Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 26, 179191.

Miller, D.M., Linn, R.L., & Gronlund, N.E. (2009). Measurement and assessment

in teaching. New Jersey: Pearson.

National Research Council. (1993). Losing generations: Adolescents in high-risk

settings. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.



Appendix A

Characteristics of the setting

physical characteristics Classroom
participants Students
time of task Daytime

Characteristics of the test rubric

instructions Written at top of test
language English
channel Written
specification of procedures and tasks
structure Five parts with corresponding questions-
20 questions total
time allotment 1 hour
scoring method 1 for correct; 0 for incorrect criterion-
criteria for correctness
procedures for scoring the response Compare test to provided answer
key and interpretation of scores
explicitness of criteria and procedures See Appendix C

Characteristics of the input

channel Written
form Language
language English
length Varies depending on text
type Schedule, announcement, articles, excerpt
degree of speededness Items 1& 2 will require less time to complete
than items 3, 4, 5
language of the input English
language characteristics
organizational characteristics Organized to become progressively harder
based on lexile measure and word count
textual Articles, announcement, excerpt
pragmatic characteristics
functional informative
sociolinguistic Informal and Formal
topical characteristics Varies depending on research

Characteristics of the expected response

channel Written (circle response)
form Language
language Target (English)
degree of speededness
language of the expected response
language characteristics
organizational characteristics
pragmatic characteristics
topical characteristics

Relationship between input and response

reactivity Read text and circle correct response to item
scope of relationship Targets different sub-skills of reading
directness of the relationship Direct

Appendix B

Table of Specifications

Task (Sub-Skill)

Text Word Lexile I.d. of Main-idea Summary # of % of

Count Measure important comprehension items items

1. FCHS Bell 2 (1.1-1.2) 1 (1.3) 0 3 15


2. FCHS 2 (2.1-2.2) 1 (2.3) 0 3 15


3. The Job of 412 490L 2 (3.1-3.2) 2 (3.3- 3.4) 1 (3.5) 5 25

the President

4. Effects of 517 600L 2 (4.1-4.2) 2 (4.3-4.4) 1 (4.5) 5 25

Change (Grade

5. The Hunger 451 810L 2 (5.1-5.2) 2 (5.3-5.4) 0 4 20


# of items 10 8 2 20

% of items 50 40 10 100

Appendix C

Reading Comprehension Test

Name: ______________________

Instructions: In this test you will read five different texts. There are twenty total

questions in this test. After you read each text, read the questions that follow it and the

four possible answers. Choose the best answer by circling the letter of the correct answer.

There is only one correct answer per question. You have one hour to complete this test.

Part One: Fort Collins High School Daily Bell Schedule


1.1. On Wednesday, the students will have lunch for.

(A) 30 minutes

(B) 40 minutes

(C) 50 minutes

(D) 55 minutes

1.2. On Tuesday, Period 4 is from.

(A) 8:00-9:30

(B) 8:25-9:45

(C) 10:10-11:30

(D) 10:20-11:10
1.3. This picture (above) shows information about.

(A) The Fort Collins Elementary School Schedule.

(B) The Fort Collins Elementary Events Schedule.

(C) The Fort Collins High School Schedule.

(D) The Fort Collins Middle School Schedule.

Part Two: Fort Collins High School Announcement

FCHS 8th Grade Event! April 10, 2017, 5 pm -7 pm

The Fort Collins High School staff would like to extend a warm Lambkin welcome to our
incoming Freshmen class and their families and invite you to attend our Eighth Grade
Transition Night. This event will be held on Monday, April 10th from 5-7:00 pm. We will
begin the evening in the Fort Collins High School Main Gym and then move into a series
of break-out sessions to include topics such as high school athletics, transitioning to high
school, and information on counseling, and graduation. Mr. Matthew, the principle, will
be available to provide tours and answer questions from the students.

Topic Time

High school athletics 5 P.M.5:30 P.M.

Transitioning to high school 5:30 P.M.6:00 P.M.

Information on counseling 6:00 P.M. 6:40 P.M.

Graduation 6:40 P.M.7:00 P.M.

2.1. The event will begin with a session about.

(A) Graduation

(B) Information on counseling

(C) Transitioning to high school

(D) High school athletics

2.2. The beginning of this event will take place in..

(A) Mr. Matthews office

(B) Main Gym

(C) Graduation Center

(D) Counseling office

2.3. Fort Collins High School is holding an event about.

(A) 8th Grade Transition Night

(B) Athletics

(C) High School staff

(D) Fort Collins High School

Part Three: The Job of the President

President Barack Obama signs

H.R. 3630 - Middle Class Tax
Relief and Job Creation Act of
2012 (Payroll Tax Cut Extension)
in the White House Oval Office in
Washington, D.C., February 22,
2012. Courtesy of the Executive
Office of the President of the
United States.

The job of the president

The United States Constitution was written in 1789. This was when America was a
new country. The Constitution is a plan for the U.S. government. It created three
branches of government. The Constitution also created the role of the president. The
president is part of the executive branch of government.

Creation Of A Presidency

The Constitution was unique. Most countries in Europe still had kings and queens.
They were rulers with total power. The founders of America were afraid of one
person having too much power. They created a system that limited a leader's power.
This was a very new idea.

The President

Congress proposes laws. Then the president reviews them. The president can either
approve or reject them. Rejecting is called vetoing.

The president makes sure laws are carried out. Fifteen departments help do this. The
leaders of each department are part of the president's Cabinet.

The president can issue executive orders. These direct people who work under the
president. They can also update laws.

The executive branch maintains relationships with other countries. The president
can also forgive people for federal crimes. This is called a pardon.

With these powers come responsibilities. One is a requirement to give Congress

updates. Presidents do this in a speech. It is called the State of the Union address. It
happens each January.

Presidential Requirements
There are three requirements to be president. First, the president must be 35 years
old. Second, the president must have been born in the United States. Finally, he or
she must have lived in the United States for at least 14 years.

Choosing A President

The president is elected through the Electoral College. Citizens vote in elections.
Each state decides who has the most votes. The person with the most votes is
awarded electors. Each state has a certain number of electors to give away. States
with more people get more electors. There are a total of 538 electors if electors from
every state are added together. The parties choose who will be electors. These people
then vote for president. A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to become president.

Today, the president is limited to two terms. Each is four years long. This was
established in 1951. Before then, a president could serve an unlimited number of

The White House

The president lives in Washington, D.C. His home and office is in the White House.
The president earns $400,000 a year. Some presidents choose not to take this

3.1 How many branches are there in the U.S. government?

(A) 1

(B) 3

(C) 4

(D) 15

3.2 .How many electoral votes does a person need to become president of the U.S.?

(A) 14

(B) 35

(C) 270

(D) 538

3.3. The article is mainly about

(A) the president of the U.S.

(B) the history of the American government

(C) the Founding Fathers of America

(D) the bills that President Obama passed


3.4. According to the article, what did the Constitution do that was different from
other countries?

(A) The president is a part of the executive branch of government.

(B) The president lives in the White House.

(C) The president is a leader.

(D) The president has limited power.

3.5. Which one of the following best summarizes the big ideas of the article?

(A) The founding of America, and what the founders of America wanted their
government to look like.

(B) Where the president of the U.S. lives and how much money he or she makes.

(C) The limited power of the president, how the president is elected, and the
things that the president has the power to do.

(D) How the president must be 35 years old to get elected, and must have lived in
the U.S. for 14 years to get elected.

Part Four: Effects of Climate Change: Hawaii and U.S. Tropical Islands

A sea turtle is seen swimming

above a reef near the
Hawaiian islands. Climate
change has major impacts on ocean ecosystems and communities living on islands.
Photo: Pixabay/public domain.

Effects of Climate Change:

Hawaii and U.S. Tropical Islands
The United States controls dozens of islands. These include Puerto Rico. This island
is in the Caribbean Sea. Hawaii is an island state in the Pacific Ocean. Many people
picture these as places with bright sun. They have beautiful beaches. However, they
face big risks from climate change.

Climate change is a change in Earth's overall climate. This means a change in Earth's
average temperature. Or it could be a change in Earth's overall rain or snow.

The risk includes rising temperatures and higher sea levels. Weather patterns are
also changing. Islands face big risks because they are small. Some are also not very
high above the sea.

Rising Temperatures And Sea Levels

Temperatures are rising on these islands. They are also seeing higher sea levels. In
Hawaii, temperatures may rise by up to 3.5 degrees F 1 by the year 2050. Puerto Rico
may warm by as much as 5 degrees F by 2100. Higher temperatures are causing sea
levels to rise. Higher seas can eat away at island coastlines.

Over the course of the next century, global sea level is expected to rise. The remote
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, shown here, may be particularly affected as many of
the islands rise no more than 2 meters (6.6 feet) above sea level. Photo: USFWS.

Water And Communities

Scientists expect weather patterns to change. For example, some islands may get less
rain. That means less drinking water. There will be less water for farm crops. Some
islands, though, may see bigger storms. These can cause flooding.

Island towns are at risk because of these changes. Most islanders live near the coasts.
The rising ocean may force people to move.

1 F=fahrenheit
Climate change could also keep visitors from visiting. Tourism is important business
on many islands. Rising seas could wreck beaches. It may damage businesses. Such
changes could keep away tourists.

Over the course of the next century, global sea

level is expected to rise. The remote Northwestern
Hawaiian Islands, shown here, may be particularly
as many of the islands rise no more than
2 meters (6.6 feet) above sea level. Photo: USFWS.

Plants And Animals

Coral reefs are crucial parts of underwater ecosystems. Increased ocean

acidity is fatal to some corals. Photo: EPA.

Islands are home to many special animals and plants. Tourists may come to see
them. However, climate change is putting such natural places in danger.

Coral reefs are crucial parts of underwater ecosystems.

Increased ocean acidity is fatal to some corals. Photo: EPA.

Coral reefs are one such a place. Reefs provide ocean

homes for fish and other sea life. They also protect the
shore during storms. Many islanders depend on reefs for food and work. As the
oceans warm, coral is dying and reefs are shrinking. Fish populations are likely to

Rising sea levels are also affecting island plants and animals. For example, mangrove
forests are disappearing on some Pacific islands. These trees help protect the shore
from damage. Without healthy habitats, some animals will have no place to live.

The Hawaiian monk seal, one of the rarest pinniped (seal and sea lion)

species on Earth, lives in the remote islands and atolls north of Hawaii. Sea level rise
could mean the seals lose their habitat. Image: Wikimedia.

The Hawaiian monk seal, one of the rarest

pinniped (seal and sea lion) species on Earth, lives in the
remote islands and atolls north of Hawaii. Sea level rise could
mean the seals lose their habitat. Image: Wikimedia.

Climate change is changing the world. Scientists are studying how it will affect us.
Islands may face the biggest changes of all.

4.1. On islands, most people live near the ________.

(A) center of the island

(B) coast

(C) mountains

(D) farm

4.2. According to the article, by the year 2100, how much warmer might Puerto Rico

(A) 3.5 F

(B) 5 F

(C) 6.6 F

(D) 2050 F

4.3. Why are coral reefs important to islands?

(A) They protect the shore, attract tourists, and are home to fish and sea life.

(B) They are colorful and fun places to visit and fish.

(C) They are the cause of climate change and global warming, which is bad for

(D) Islands face the biggest changes of all of the ecosystems.

4.4. What happens to islands when temperatures rise?

(A) An increase in temperature means higher sea levels which is better for

(B) An increase in temperature means sea turtles swim to coral reefs more often.
(C) An increase in temperature means higher sea levels which is bad for islands
and coastlines.

(D) An increase in temperature means higher sea levels which means more seals
will live on the islands.

4.5. Which of the following best summarizes the article?

(A) This article mostly talks about climate changes effects on sea turtles, fish, sea
lions, and coral reefs, which people think are beautiful.

(B) This article mostly talks about how the U.S. controls islands, including
Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

(C) This article mostly talks about the effects of climate change on islands and the
animals and people that live there.

(D) This article mostly talks about how scientists dont think that climate change
will affect the islands.

Part Five: Excerpt from The Hunger Games

When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prims
warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad
dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.
I prop myself up on one elbow. Theres enough light in the bedroom to see them. My
little sister, Prim, curled up on her side, cocooned in my mothers body, their cheeks
pressed together. In sleep, my mother looks younger, still worn but not so beaten-down.
Prims face is as fresh as a raindrop, as lovely as the primrose for which she was named.
My mother was very beautiful once, too. Or so they tell me. Sitting at Prims knees,
guarding her, is the worlds ugliest cat. Mashed-in nose, half of one ear missing, eyes the
color of rotting squash. Prim named him Buttercup, insisting that his muddy yellow coat
matched the bright flower. He hates me. Or at least distrusts me. Even though it was years
ago, I think he still remembers how I tried to drown him in a bucket when Prim brought
him home. Scrawny kitten, belly swollen with worms, crawling with fleas. The last thing
I needed was another mouth to feed. But Prim begged so hard, cried even, I had to let him
stay. It turned out okay. My mother got rid of the vermin and hes a born mouser. Even
catches the occasional rat. Sometimes, when I clean a kill, I feed Buttercup the entrails.
He has stopped hissing at me. Entrails. No hissing. This is the closest we will ever come
to love. I swing my legs off the bed and slide into my hunting boots. Supple leather that
has molded to my feet. I pull on trousers, a shirt, tuck my long dark braid up into a cap,
and grab my forage bag. On the table, under a wooden bowl to protect it from hungry rats
and cats alike, sits a perfect little goat cheese wrapped in basil leaves. Prims gift to me
on reaping day. I put the cheese carefully in my pocket as I slip outside. Our part of
District 12, nicknamed the Seam, is usually crawling with coal miners heading out to the
morning shift at this hour. Men and women with hunched shoulders, swollen knuckles,
many who have long since stopped trying to scrub the coal dust out of their broken nails,
the lines of their sunken faces. But today the black cinder streets are empty. Shutters on
the squat gray houses are closed. The reaping isnt until two. May as well sleep in. If you

5.1. What is nearPrims knees?

(A) a primrose

(B) a cat

(C) a flea

(D) a mouse

5.2. What does the narrator take with her when she leaves the house?

(A) the cat

(B) a mouse

(C) some goat cheese

(D) a primrose

5.3. In this excerpt, the narrator is leaving her house and getting ready to

(A) go hunting

(B) talk to her sister and mom

(C) find her cat

(D) find a miner

5.4. In this excerpt, the narrator is mostly describing

(A) The reason her sister is named after a primrose.

(B) Why her leather books are important to her.

(C) Her family and the people of her town.

(D) Her cold bed and the morning.

Answer Key

1.1 B

1.2 D

1.3 C

2.1 C
2.2 B

2.3 A

3.1 B

3.2 C

3.3 A

3.4 D

3.5 C

4.1 B

4.2 B

4.3 A

4.4 C

4.5 C

5.1 B

5.2 C

5.3 A

5.4 C

Interpretation of Scores

If a student receives a raw score of 0-10, he or she should be placed in a beginner class.

If a student receives a raw score of 10-15, he or she should be placed in an intermediate


If a student receives a raw score of 15-20, he or she should be placed in an advanced

*The table below should ALWAYS be used in addition to the raw-score data. For
example, ff a student receives a high score (15 or more correct), but misidentifies
identification of important information multiple times, then he or she may have
guessed and gotten the correct answer on the higher-level questions. In this sense,
placement should always be considered based on raw score, as well as when compared to
which skills the student has mastered. Placement can be flexible.

*The interpretation of scores should always be discussed with the teacher and/or student.

Instructions for Using this Table: The scoring sheet below indicates which questions
target which sub-skills (identification of important information, main-idea
comprehension, and summary of text). The easiest skill is identification of important
information, next hardest is main-idea comprehension, and the most difficult is summary
of text. Compare the students score to this sheet, putting a check mark in the box if the
student got the answer correct. This should help to identify with which sub-skills the
student may or may not be struggling.

Interpretations of Test Scores


Question I.d. of important Main-idea Summary of text

information comprehension

1.1 X
1.2 X

1.3 X

2.1 X

2.2 X

2.3 X

3.1 X

3.2 X

3.3 X

3.4 X

3.5 X

4.1 X

4.2 X

4.3 X

4.4 X

4.5 X

5.1 X

5.2 X X

5.3 X


Score Reporting Form


You received a score of _________ out of 20. This is _________%.

(1 point for correct response, 0 points for incorrect response).

It is recommended that you be placed in level_____________.