Cand.ed. Anne Arnesen
Social Functioning and Reading Proficiency: Validity of Educational Assessments Used in Norwegian Elementary Schools.
The thesis is written within the field of special education. It has examined issues related to assessing students' social functioning and reading proficiency. Early and accurate identification of students´ specific difficulties in one or both of these areas is essential to guide efficient interventions and monitor progress. However, high-quality assessments to guide efficient interventions and monitor students’ progress are required. This is examined in the thesis’ three studies using multiple methods. First, descriptive analysis of survey data on the school's use of educational assessments for students' social functioning and reading development formed the basis for systematic review of the quality of the available documentation of the instruments. The findings showed that reading development was assessed three times as often as social functioning. The psychometric quality of the most used assessments was weak or undocumented, while the material quality was generally good.
The other studies examined two specific screening instruments, the “Elementary Social Behavior Assessment” (ESBA) for students' social functioning in Grades 1-6 and the "Oral Reading Fluency" (ORF) for students' reading development in terms of decoding, accuracy and fluency in Grades 2-5. ESBA showed good criterion validity when correlated with the teachers´ version of the "Social Skills Rating System". Factor analyzes established construct validity and high score and test-retest reliabilities were found. Latent growth curve models showed measurement invariance for the ORF. Even though, initial individual differences varied more than growth rates, growth was positive for all participating students. Criterion validity was established in which the ORF and the National tests and assessments in reading correlated moderate to strong. Reliability values for ORF were high.
Overall, the thesis highlights areas of development for educational assessment practices and further in-depth research to improve the assessment quality that may strengthen preventive approaches and learning support for struggling students. The doctoral work has been conducted at the Department of Special Needs Education.