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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012

3 - Cognitive Models of Task Performance for Reading Comprehension

Summary

Reading comprehension is a central skill students must learn to become successful learners in other content domains. For example, adequate reading skills are required to acquire scientific and mathematical literacy skills. In the present volume, then, we begin by describing cognitive models of task performance in reading comprehension, because reading skills function as a gatekeeper for the acquisition of most other academic skills.

Although students typically prefer reading over mathematics (OECD, 2004), many students continue to struggle with their reading performance. According to 2003 PISA results (Lemke et al., 2004), students in the United States scored 495 on the reading component, which is not measurably different from the OECD average of 494 (PISA results are scaled to have a mean of approximately 500 with a standard deviation of 100). This is good news for American students. However, it should be noted that among the thirty-eight countries participating in the assessment, eleven countries scored higher in reading than the United States.

More recently, the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics (2009) reported that although students' reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) have increased since 1992, they remain unchanged from 2007 to 2009. In particular, 67 percent of students in grade four read at a basic level, and only 33 percent were classified as either proficient or advanced.

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