Study Guide

Field 221: Reading Specialist
Sample Multiple-Choice Questions

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Each multiple-choice question has four answer choices. Read each question and its answer choices carefully and choose the ONE best answer.

During the test you should try to answer all questions. Even if you are unsure of an answer, it is better to guess than not to answer a question at all. You will NOT be penalized for choosing an incorrect response.

Objective 0001
Understand foundations of reading instruction.

1. The influence of L. S. Vygotsky on literacy education is best exemplified by a teacher who:

  1. uses a combination of synthetic and analytic methods to teach beginning reading instruction to students.
  2. designs partner activities to emphasize to students the collaborative aspects of literacy.
  3. supports students in reading texts that are slightly more difficult than those they could read on their own.
  4. establishes a system of rewards to encourage students to read independently.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: C.
Psychologist L. S. Vygotsky introduced the concept of the zone of proximal development, which is the difference between what a student can do without support and what he/she can do with scaffolding. A teacher who uses supports to help students read more complex texts than they could read independently is applying this concept.

Objective 0002
Understand how to interpret and use reading research.

2. All elementary students in a school district have taken a standardized reading achievement test. Students in one school scored significantly lower than students in the other schools. A reading specialist has been asked to review these results and recommend whether to restructure the reading program in the low-performing school. In making this decision, which of the following steps would be most important for the reading specialist to take?

  1. reviewing other assessments to see whether the reading achievement of students in the low-performing school has been improving
  2. examining the test results of individual students in the low-performing school for the purpose of developing case studies
  3. comparing the reading achievement of students in the low-performing school to state and national norms for reading achievement
  4. evaluating the licensure and certification qualifications of the teachers in the primary grades at the low-performing school
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: A.
The decision to restructure the reading program at a school should not be made based on the results of one standardized test. The reading specialist needs to consider the results of multiple assessments, such as comparing the results of the previous year's reading achievement test to the current year's results and reviewing the overall results of classroom benchmark assessments. Reviewing the results of multiple assessments, including longitudinal data, allows stakeholders to identify positive or negative trends with regard to school improvement and to identify particular areas of the school's reading program that demonstrate strengths and needs.

Objective 0003
Understand oral language foundations of literacy development.

3. Which of the following activities is likely to be most effective in promoting a kindergarten student's understanding of the connection between spoken and written language?

  1. teaching the student to recognize and name the letters in his or her first name
  2. encouraging the student to examine the pictures in a text and to make up a story to go with them
  3. making sure that the classroom contains many printed signs and labels
  4. having the student tell a story and watch as the teacher writes down what the student says
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: D.
Transcribing a student's oral story helps the student understand that one important function of print is to encode speech. It also helps reinforce for the student the emergent literacy concept that print carries meaning.

Objective 0003
Understand oral language foundations of literacy development.

4. Knowledge of which of the following instructional concepts would likely be most beneficial in supporting English literacy development for students who are English language learners?

  1. Frequent partnering with students who speak more proficient English is the key to developing English literacy skills.
  2. English academic vocabulary shares numerous cognates with other languages.
  3. Speaking English proficiently is an indication that a student should be able to read and write fluently in English.
  4. English has more homonyms, homophones, and synonyms than do most European languages.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: B.
Cognates are words in a language that share a common ancestry or origin and thus a common root or base form with words in another language. Because academic English vocabulary is primarily derived from Latin and Greek, it is estimated that between 80 to 90 percent of academic English vocabulary words have cognates in languages that are also derived from Latin and Greek (e.g., Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Romanian). Providing English language learners with explicit instruction in applying a cognate strategy when encountering new English vocabulary in texts supports their English literacy development by helping them deduce the meaning of key vocabulary in a text, which in turn can help them access the text's meaning.

Objective 0004
Understand the influence of individual differences and diversity on language and literacy development and instruction.

5. A middle school reading specialist is preparing to read aloud and discuss a narrative text with a group of students that includes English language learners who are at varying levels of English language proficiency. Which of the following approaches would be most appropriate for the reading specialist to take to ensure the lesson is accessible to all learners in the group?

  1. suggesting that the English language learners' language arts teacher preview the text with the students in advance
  2. preparing visuals (e.g., props, time lines, illustrations) related to the text that can support the English language learners' participation
  3. asking students in the group who are bilingual to translate the text for the English language learners as the reading specialist reads it aloud
  4. obtaining translations of the text in the primary languages of the English language learners and allowing them to read the translations as the reading specialist reads in English
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: B.
At the middle school level, narrative texts tend to include few illustrations that would help support English language learners' listening comprehension during a read-aloud. In addition, the texts are likely to include both social and academic vocabulary that may be unfamiliar to these students. Using props, timelines, illustrations, and other visuals during the read-aloud is an effective teacher strategy for scaffolding English language learners' understanding of the sequence of events in a narrative text and for promoting their comprehension of new vocabulary in the text.

Objective 0005
Understand features of educational environments that promote literacy development.

6. A reading specialist would like to promote high school students' motivation with regard to reading. Which of the following strategies would likely be most beneficial to use for this purpose?

  1. providing students with a wide variety of reading materials related to their interests
  2. making recommendations to students about available grade-level-appropriate books
  3. asking students to select a book of their choice to read and develop a class presentation about the book
  4. having students dress up in an appropriate costume based on a book character of their choice
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: A.
Convergent research on student motivation suggests that an important factor in motivating student learning is creating learning experiences that offer choice. Providing adolescents with a variety of reading materials related to their interests honors individual students' perspectives and their need to feel a sense of control and belonging in the learning environment.

Objective 0006
Understand strategies for evaluating, securing, and managing resources to support effective reading instruction.

7. A third-grade teacher asks a reading specialist for help in evaluating the suitability of several children's books for use as reading materials for language arts instruction. In making these judgments, which of the following questions would be most important for the reading specialist to consider first?

  1. Will the books help address the goals of the third-grade reading curriculum?
  2. Are the books written at the independent reading level of most students in the class?
  3. Will these books be appropriate for use in more than one instructional context?
  4. Are the authors of these books well-known, respected authors of children's literature?
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: A.
The goals of a reading program should be based on grade-level learning standards and students' interests, backgrounds, and abilities. Considering the goals of the reading curriculum when selecting reading materials for language arts instruction will help the teacher choose materials that are relevant to and appropriate for students.

Objective 0007
Understand foundations of reading assessment.

8. Reading specialists in a school district meet to analyze the fourth-grade National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading data in order to plan strategies for improving student performance. According to district NAEP data, a key area in need of improvement for fourth graders is reading informational texts. Instruction in which of the following skill areas would likely be most effective in helping students at the basic level of reading comprehension on the NAEP move to the proficient level?

  1. integrating information about a topic from multiple expository texts
  2. identifying the main purpose of an expository text and an explicitly stated main idea
  3. recalling relevant information that supports a given interpretation of an expository text
  4. gathering information from different parts of an expository text that supports an explicitly stated main idea
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: A.
Integrating information from multiple texts is the highest level reading skill among the response choices given and is an appropriate goal for fourth graders, according to both the NAEP reading framework and the Illinois Learning Standards for English Language Arts.

Objective 0008
Understand assessment of essential components of reading development.

9. Use the table below to answer the question that follows.

Text WordMiscue
glowgo low

A second-grade student makes the above miscues when reading aloud a text. This evidence suggests that the student would likely benefit most from an intervention designed to improve the student's decoding skills with respect to which of the following elements?

  1. consonant digraphs
  2. closed-syllable words
  3. consonant blends
  4. vowel teams
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: C.
The student's miscues suggest a significant pattern of difficulty with consonant blends. The student had difficulty with st in fist, br in broom, st in instead, and gl in glow, all of which are examples of consonant blends.

Objective 0008
Understand assessment of essential components of reading development.

10. According to research, a reading motivation survey is most effective at the middle school level when the survey is designed or adapted specially for an adolescent audience. For example, it is most effective to use a conversational interview when asking adolescent students about what they read or viewed most recently and where they read or viewed the information. Which of the following statements best describes the research-based rationale why a conversational interview is an effective survey format to use with adolescents?

  1. Teachers need to ask adolescents different questions about their reading habits than they ask younger students.
  2. Adolescents are more likely to talk about their reading habits with peers than they are with their teachers or a reading specialist.
  3. Open-ended questions are better at eliciting precise responses from adolescents about their reading habits than are literal or direct questions.
  4. There is often a discrepancy between how adolescents perceive themselves as readers or how well they like reading and their actual reading habits.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: D.
Adolescents tend to spend many hours daily engaged in reading and writing in multiple and varied ways and formats, many of which are online. However, they tend to define "reading" and "writing" as school-based activities, so when completing a formal written reading motivation survey, they will often ignore their many literacy-related competencies and motivations. A conversational interview allows a teacher or reading specialist to discover the multiple literacies in which students are engaged outside the classroom, acknowledge these multiple literacies, and promote students' motivation by helping them see themselves as competent and engaged readers and writers.

Objective 0009
Understand assessment for the purpose of diagnosing reading difficulties and principles of working with students who have reading difficulties.

11. A reading specialist wants to ensure that a screening battery for elementary and middle school students will be comprehensive enough to identify students who are in need of a more thorough evaluation for reading difficulty. Which of the following types of assessment would be most appropriate to include in the screening battery?

  1. a formative assessment and a standardized assessment
  2. a code-based assessment and a meaning-based assessment
  3. a progress-monitoring assessment and a normative assessment
  4. a phonological assessment and an oral reading fluency assessment
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: B.
The results of code-based assessments can provide teachers with insight into students' print processing abilities, such as their decoding and fluency skills. The results of meaning-based assessments can provide teachers with insight into students' text comprehension abilities, such as their knowledge of vocabulary, syntax, and text structure, and their ability to apply various cognitive and metacognitive skills and strategies during reading. Struggling readers may experience difficulties with any or all of these components and processes involved in reading. By including a code-based assessment and a meaning-based assessment in the screening battery, the reading specialist is most likely to identify in which key area(s) of reading a student is experiencing reading difficulty and requires more in-depth evaluation.

Objective 0010
Understand emergent literacy, including development of phonemic awareness.

12. Before a kindergarten class goes out to recess, the teacher reads aloud the weather forecast from a newspaper. After recess, students discuss the accuracy of the forecast. Later in the day, the teacher writes and reads aloud a note asking the school librarian to order a book the students have requested. These informal activities are likely to promote students' literacy development primarily by helping the students recognize that:

  1. the letters in printed words correspond to individual sounds.
  2. print communicates meaning and can serve a variety of useful purposes.
  3. reading and writing can be sources of personal enjoyment.
  4. reading comprehension requires focused attention to the meaning of the text.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: B.
In this scenario, the teacher uses implicit instruction to promote students' basic concepts of print and their motivation for literacy development. By modeling various functions of print throughout the school day, the teacher reinforces that print has meaning and that reading and writing are valuable skills that can be used in many contexts and for varied purposes.

Objective 0010
Understand emergent literacy, including development of phonemic awareness.

13. Which of the following statements best summarizes the findings of current research on the role of phonemic awareness in reading development?

  1. Students who demonstrate a high level of phonemic awareness also tend to apply metacognitive skills to self-monitor comprehension.
  2. Phonemic awareness activities help promote students' oral communication skills as well as their reading development.
  3. Systematic phonemic awareness instruction is most useful for helping students become conventional spellers.
  4. A prereader's level of phonemic awareness is one of the best predictors of the child's early reading success.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: D.
Phonemic awareness is a specific type of phonological awareness that involves the ability to distinguish the separate sounds (phonemes) in spoken words. Phonemic awareness skills are considered foundational, or prerequisite, for the development of phonics skills. Convergent research indicates that a child's phonemic awareness and letter recognition skills are the best predictors of a child's success in beginning reading development.

Objective 0011
Understand development of phonics and other word identification skills and spelling.

14. A second-grade teacher wants to help English language learners begin to develop a sight vocabulary in English. The teacher could best address this goal by:

  1. helping the students learn basic phonics generalizations.
  2. using graphic organizers to summarize information from texts.
  3. introducing new words by grouping them in conceptual categories.
  4. displaying high-frequency words and labeling objects in the classroom.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: D.
A student's sight vocabulary means the words that the student recognizes automatically without decoding. Having a large sight vocabulary along with strong phonics skills supports students' reading comprehension because the reader needs to expend less time and energy on decoding and can therefore devote more time and energy to constructing meaning. A student's sight vocabulary typically includes many sight words, which are words that appear in high frequency in grade-level reading materials. Providing English language learners with exposure to high-frequency words, including labeling common objects around the room, is an important first step in helping them build their sight vocabulary in English and make connections between the words and their meaning.

Objective 0012
Understand development of reading fluency.

15. Which of the following statements regarding the relationship between oral and silent reading is based on convergent research on reading fluency?

  1. Students' silent reading rates typically surpass their oral reading rates as early as first grade.
  2. Oral and silent reading rates are both limited by the speed of readers' eye movements and how fast they can speak.
  3. Silent reading is a performance-based situation, which can contribute to increased reader anxiety and a comparatively slower rate than during oral reading.
  4. Students who have widely differing reading proficiency levels exhibit greater variability in their oral reading rates than in their silent reading rates.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: A.
Norms indicate that students' oral and silent reading rates diverge beginning in the first grade. For example, first-grade students who read at the 50th percentile average about 53 words per minute when reading orally, but they average about 80 words per minute during silent reading. This has important implications for reading instruction. As soon as students demonstrate accuracy and automaticity in their decoding skills, teachers should encourage them to begin practicing silent reading, while holding them accountable for comprehension.

Objective 0013
Understand development of academic language, including vocabulary and complex language structures.

16. A high school reading specialist promotes instruction in synonyms of target vocabulary whenever possible. For example, the reading specialist encourages content-area teachers to discuss with students how the choice of a particular word may generate a different understanding or reaction from readers (e.g., substituting ancient for elderly). The inclusion of a focus on synonyms as part of word study demonstrates the reading specialist's understanding of which of the following important concepts related to the acquisition of new vocabulary?

  1. Teaching words that are morphologically similar promotes students' skills in structural analysis.
  2. Teaching words that are semantically polar enhances students' depth of understanding of the terms.
  3. Teaching words that are similar in meaning enhances students' ability to attend to nuances of meaning.
  4. Teaching words that are orthographically similar promotes students' retention of new vocabulary.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: C.
In the scenario, the reading specialist recommends that content-area teachers include synonyms as part of word study. Synonyms are words that have a similar meaning or denotation. Words that have the same or similar denotation, however, may have different connotations, which are implied or associated meanings. For example, the words ancient and elderly both denote a person or thing that exhibits the qualities of age or long existence. However, describing a person as elderly sounds more objective or neutral, while describing a person as ancient could have negative or derogatory implications. Having students compare the denotative and connotative meanings of synonyms enhances their ability to attend to nuances of meaning. It also enhances their understanding and retention of target vocabulary.

Objective 0014
Understand development of reading comprehension.

17. A reading specialist regularly uses the Directed Reading-Thinking Activity (DR-TA) method when conducting guided reading with a group of fourth-grade students. Before students begin to read, they generate questions and make predictions about the story based on the title and cover illustrations. They stop at predetermined points in the story to respond to and/or revise their earlier questions and predictions and to make new ones. This approach is most likely to promote students' reading development in which of the following ways?

  1. motivating students to apply word identification strategies in order to understand the story
  2. improving reading fluency by encouraging students to identify meaningful units of text
  3. strengthening comprehension by prompting students to apply metacognitive skills
  4. helping students apply knowledge of common text structures to clarify understanding
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: C.
In order for students to respond to and revise the questions and predictions they made prior to reading, they need to apply metacognitive skills during reading. Metacognition is the process of thinking about or being aware of one's thinking. In the context of the Directed Reading-Thinking Activity (DR-TA) described, the students must monitor their comprehension during reading and be actively aware of whether or not the text is aligned with their earlier questions and predictions.

Objective 0015
Understand literary and informational texts and how to promote students' comprehension and analysis of different types of texts for various purposes.

18. A reading specialist examines a text that the social science teacher plans to assign to eighth-grade students and recognizes that the text includes several complex grammatical structures that are likely to be difficult for struggling readers. Which of the following instructional strategies would be most effective for the reading specialist to use to help scaffold the students' reading comprehension of the text?

  1. practicing with students how to combine simple sentences to make complex sentences
  2. modeling for students how to employ reference materials to help interpret complex grammatical structures
  3. encouraging students to read aloud complex sentences using appropriate expression
  4. guiding students in a close reading of problematic sections of the text to deconstruct complex sentences
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: D.
To help students achieve college and career readiness, content-area teachers must prepare them to construct meaning from complex discipline-specific texts on their own. Engaging students in a close reading of a complex text is an excellent way to use a gradual release of responsibility approach to achieve this goal. Close reading involves reading and rereading a complex text section by section, during which the teacher models and provides students with opportunities to practice key content-area reading skills, such as how to deconstruct syntactically complex sentences.

Objective 0016
Understand professional roles and responsibilities, including curriculum design and implementation in the field of reading.

19. A district reading specialist has been working to create an ongoing relationship with literacy researchers at a local university. As part of this arrangement, students and faculty at the university will conduct ethnographic and experimental research in the district schools, with the help of classroom teachers. Teachers in the district schools are most likely to benefit from this interaction by:

  1. developing an awareness of the reading strengths and needs of individual students.
  2. becoming motivated to continue their education and to obtain higher levels of reading certification.
  3. acquiring the habit of analyzing and reflecting on their instructional practices relating to reading.
  4. gaining access to the most current publications that summarize reading-related research.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: C.
In the scenario, teachers in a school district will have the opportunity to participate in university-sponsored literacy research. Research projects typically provide teachers with opportunities to raise questions about instructional practice, to test assumptions, and to evaluate results on student learning. Benefits for the teachers of participating in such projects include encouraging the teachers to question the research basis of the instructional strategies they are using and to reflect on the effectiveness and appropriateness of various practices in different instructional contexts.

Objective 0017
Understand professional development, including staff development in the field of reading.

20. A reading specialist leads a professional development workshop on ways to encourage independent reading in the classroom. As a follow-up activity, the reading specialist asks participating teachers to develop a personal action plan to implement one of the presented strategies in their classrooms. The teachers will reconvene after several weeks to discuss their experiences. Which of the following steps should the reading specialist have the teachers take first as part of evaluating the effectiveness of their implementation?

  1. reporting back to the group about the pros and cons of putting the strategy into practice
  2. engaging in self-reflection about how and why the strategy was or was not successful
  3. deciding what to choose for the next classroom strategy that will help meet an important instructional goal
  4. obtaining feedback from colleagues about other strategies they have found effective in similar instructional settings
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: B.
Metacognition in the form of self-reflection is an important feature of effective professional development. In the scenario described, the reading specialist provides teachers with the opportunity to engage in active learning by developing a personal action plan to implement a new instructional strategy that the specialist taught them in a workshop. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of their implementation, the teachers must first reflect on various data, such as their observations of students during the lesson(s) (e.g., Did students appear engaged in the strategy? Did they have difficulty performing any part(s) of the strategy?) and the results of any informal assessments they conducted during or post instruction.