Construction & validation of a new vocabulary measure

Construction & validation of a new vocabulary measure

First Author: D. Midian Kurland -- TextProject
Additional authors/chairs: 
Elfrieda H. Hiebert
Keywords: Vocabulary, Assessment, Computer-Assisted, Knowledge, Reading development
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: Vocabulary knowledge consistently predicts comprehension (Rickets, Nation, & Bishop, 2007) but vocabulary interventions have been ineffective in increasing comprehension (Wright & Cervetti, 2017). These results may reflect the focus of current vocabulary tests on students’ relative performances rather than on knowledge of words representing specific domains (Pearson, Hiebert, & Kamil, 2007). This study describes the validation of an alternative vocabulary test—the Core Vocabulary Assessment (CVA)—that assesses students’ knowledge of words within bands of the 2,500 most-frequent morphological families (Hiebert, Goodwin, & Cervetti, 2018).

Method: Multiple forms of two grade-level tests of 20 items each were created from 20 pairs of words from two word bands, one with an average U function of 63 (Grade 4) and the other with an average U function of 29 (Grade 6). All words in distractors, sentence stems, and correct answers were from easier word bands. Alternative forms of appropriate grade-level tests were administered to 669 3rd and 4th graders and to 1,462 5th and 6th graders at the beginning and end of a four-month period.

Results: Students in the lower grade of a range performed significantly lower than target grade students (1.9 difference between grades 3 and 4 and .95 between grades 5 and 6). Gains of .9 (4th grade) and 1.14 (6th grade) occurred over the four-month period but these were primarily due to the performances of students in the lower grade of the range.

Conclusion: O'Reilly, Wang, and Sabatini’s (2019) finding of the ability of particular content words to predict comprehension suggests the need for measuring specific domains of vocabulary. In that the core vocabulary accounts for an average of 91.5% of words in texts from Grades K through 12, insight into students' knowledge of this body of words is especially critical. Studies underway of the CVA, including its relation to a vocabulary intervention, will be described.