MONTPELIER — Vermont students’ vocabulary comprehension in the fourth and eighth grades are above national averages, according to data released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Challis Breithaupt, NAEP state coordinator at Vermont Department of Education, said it was the first-ever national vocabulary report.
“There was a new framework for reading in 2009 and the feeling was there needed to be a criteria developed for vocabulary,” Breithaupt said.
The measure would assess more of students’ ability to understand vocabulary and their ability to acquire meaning from passages they were reading.
“Helping students to increase their vocabulary and to feel comfortable using words in various contexts is paramount,” state Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca said in a statement. “There is significant research in the field supporting a link between vocabulary and comprehension.”
On a scale of 0-500, fourth-graders scored 224 and eighth-graders scored 274. The national average for fourth- and eighth-graders was 217 and 263, respectively.
Only Connecticut, Massachusetts, Montana and North Dakota scored higher than Vermont’s eighth-grade vocabulary.
“Students use their knowledge of words in order to understand what they are reading, to identify ideas and themes,” said Vilaseca. “Summer reading programs continue to support the good work that is done throughout the school year; keeping our children’s minds active supports strong reading and comprehension skills.”
The NAEP addressed the method of the vocabulary test in its results: “Unlike traditional tests of vocabulary that ask students to write definitions of words in isolation, NAEP always assesses word meaning within the context of particular passages. Students are asked to demonstrate their understanding of words by recognizing what meaning the word contributes to the passage in which it appears.”
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