I’ve received a lot of questions about the home computer assessments over the past day. I’ll be writing more extensively about it soon, but here is some additional information:
* We assessed a total of 35 students from the thirty families who had home computers and DSL and there were 40 students in the control group.
* There are well over 100 students of all ages in the households with home computers. These students also used the home computer for one-hour each to study English. However, we did not assess the students who are not attending our high school. It was just logistically too problematic to do so.
* For the fluency assessments, all students read from the same two passages at the beginning and at the end of the quarter. They read each one for a minute each, their errors were subtracted and the two scores were averaged. The vast majority of students in both groups were Beginner English Language Learners, and the passages were at the first grade level. Teachers or student teachers gave each reading fluency assessment individually.
For the clozes, all the students completed the same three clozes and the three were averaged.
We use these kinds of reading fluency and cloze assessments in many of the English classes at our school — both ESL and non-ESL. Obviously, though, the reading levels of the assessments differ according to the English ability of the classes.
* Parents were given a different assessment, and also showed improvement. However, we didn’t have a parent control group.
* I want to emphasize that we don’t view this as a super-duper scientific study that meets every criteria (whatever they are) for academic journals. We just used similar assessments to what we use with other students in our school and tried to do it in a way that wasn’t too time-consuming for anybody. For us, the key is that our students and their families tell us they love it and that it helps them learn English and build their self-confidence, and our teachers agree with that assessment based on what they see in the classroom.