Hawker Brownlow Education
 

Assessing Levels of Comprehension (ALC) & Building Levels of Comprehension (BLC)

The diagnostic reading series Assessing Levels of Comprehension (ALC), and its companion instructional series Building Levels of Comprehension (BLC), help build higher-order thinking skills to develop proficient readers.

  • Thinking skills from literal to inferential
  • Step-by-step scaffolded approach to higher-order thinking
  • Think-aloud strategy that models thinking skills and processes
  • Explicit instruction for understanding questions to find answers
  • Test-taking practice with multiple-choice and short-response questions
  • Reading passages in several literacy genres
This two-part program features student workbooks and teacher guides designed to enable teachers to pinpoint at what step a student’s understanding breaks down (ALC) and provides instruction and practice (BLC) in building and developing students’ skills by answering reading questions at the four levels of comprehension:

Find It

locate answers stated directly in selection; answers are at concrete, literal level

Connect It

find and organise pieces of information; answers are at literal, analytical level

Add To It

combine clues and prior knowledge; answers are at inferential level

Go Beyond It

think beyond information in the passage and apply prior knowledge; answers are at critical, creative level

The series features comprehension questions in two formats – multiple-choice and short-response – that are typically found on standardised tests. The thinking-skills research on which this series is grounded will enhance students’ proficiency with answering questions at each of these levels of comprehension.

Assessing Levels of Comprehension and Building Levels of Comprehension are designed to help students use various levels of thinking to arrive at answers to reading comprehension questions, both in multiple-choice format and short-response format. The differentiated instruction that is facilitated by the mirroring of genres and question types in both ALC and BLC allows teachers to fairly assess students’ abilities to answer questions at the four levels of comprehension, or thinking. Cooperative learning and multiple genre exposure can strengthen the participation rate of students with diverse needs.

Through an understanding of students’ level of mastery at the levels of comprehension, teachers can progress from the diagnostic portion of this series, Assessing Levels of Comprehension, to the instructional portion of the series, Building Levels of Comprehension. The diagnosis and instruction will help students become successful and effective readers.

Teach Research-Based Levels of Comprehension!

“Levels of comprehension” refers to the thinking processes that are stimulated in order to arrive at answers to reading comprehension questions.

Many researchers have studied how levels of comprehension affect reading comprehension. ALC and BLC recognise and integrate the cognitive taxonomies of Benjamin Bloom and Robert Marzano who demonstrate a hierarchical order of thinking skills that students should master in order to guarantee that learning is deep and solid.

The series’ levels of comprehension relate in a general and simplified way to the levels of cognition in both taxonomies. The four levels of comprehension further align to various reading strategies.

Level 1
Find It
Reading Strategies:
  • Finding Vocabulary Meaning in Context
  • Recalling Details
  • Understanding Sequence
  • Recognising Cause and Effect
  • Comparing and Contrasting

Levels of Cognition:

  • Bloom: Knowledge, Comprehension
  • Marzano: Knowledge
Level 2
Connect It
Reading Strategies:
  • Finding Vocabulary Meaning in Context
  • Finding Main Idea
  • Understanding Sequence
  • Recognising Cause and Effect
  • Comparing and Contrasting
  • Summarising (Books C–H)

Levels of Cognition:

  • Bloom: Comprehension
  • Marzano: Knowledge, Organising, (Applying), Analysing
Level 3
Add To It
Reading Strategies:
  • Finding Vocabulary Meaning in Context
  • Finding Main Idea
  • Interpreting Figurative Language
  • Making Predictions
  • Drawing Conclusions and Making Inferences
  • Distinguishing Between Real and Make-believe (Book A–C)
  • Distinguishing Between Fact and Opinion (Books C–H)

Levels of Cognition:

  • Bloom: Application, Analysis, Synthesis
  • Marzano: (Applying), Analysing, Generating, Integrating
Level 4
Go Beyond It
Reading Strategies:
  • Identifying Author's Purpose
  • Identifying Text Features
  • Understanding Literacy Elements and Features
  • Recognising Correspondence
  • Understanding Resources

Levels of Cognition:

  • Bloom: Synthesis, Evaluation
  • Marzano: Generating, Integrating, Evaluating

ALC and BLC increase critical thinking in reading, provide practice with self-assessments and goal-setting, and identify mastery at the four levels of comprehension. The levels of comprehension, or thinking, are presented in a supportive and non-threatening manner and are couched in a familiar context.

Multiple-Choice and Short-Response Questions

Questions are the vehicles that ignite conversations and discussions. Marzano (1993) determined that questioning is the most popular technique to stimulate students’ thinking. Questioning, in today’s classroom, primarily appears in two written formats – multiple choice and short response.

 

Multiple Choice Format

While multiple-choice questions generally are not seen as the typical springboard for higher-level thinking, this generalisation and format cannot be ignored. According to Winerip (2006), forty-two per cent of students are now taking reading and maths tests that are entirely multiple choice.

As teachers already know, students need to be aware that multiple-choice items often require higher-level thinking. The multiple-choice format does not always require simple factual recall. Students need the awareness that multiple-choice answers may not always be obvious. They need to reflect upon the question, the text and the offered answer choices before selecting a response. The Assessing Levels of Comprehension series will positively emphasise questions that require higher-order thinking to attain the answers. Teachers will see how students react to multiple-choice questions, the answers to which are not found directly in the text.

Short Response Format

The short-response question format is a truer vehicle for stimulating higher-order thinking. And while multiple-choice question formats are gaining prominence in the testing arena, short-response question formats continue to stake a claim in assessment situations. “[Changes in] assessments suggest a shift, albeit a gradual one, from objective to more open-ended responses to text (Sarroub & Pearson, 1998). Open-ended items better measure students’ ability to think about a story and to use the information in a story to explain their thinking. Thus a combination of objective and open-ended questions in any given assessment may make it possible to gather more specific information about a reader’s thought processes” (Applegate, Applegate & Quinn, 2002). The Assessing Levels of Comprehension series incorporates the short-response question format to showcase students’ mastery of higher-order thinking.

Assessing Levels of Comprehension (ALC) and Building Levels of Comprehension (BLC)

ALC

Assessing Levels of Comprehension provides teachers with a format for diagnosing students’ level of mastery at various levels of comprehension.

ALC Student Books Include:

  • 10 lessons – each with a reading passage and short-response questions
  • 2 self-assessments

ALC Teacher Guides Include:

  • Research summary
  • Reading Strategies chart
  • Understanding Levels of Comprehension
  • Teacher assessments
  • Class Performance Chart
  • Answer Key

BLC

Building Levels of Comprehension provides instruction and step-by-step practice in understanding and answering reading questions.

BLC Student Books Include:

  • 4 lessons – one for each level of comprehension – which include
    • modelled and guided instruction
    • modelled, guided and independent practice
    • embedded test-taking practice with both multiple-choice and short-response questions
  • 3 cumulative review lessons
  • 5 final reviews

BLC Teacher Guides Include:

  • Suggested schedule
  • Research summary
  • Understanding Levels of Comprehension
  • Answer Key