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Contemporary Classroom Vocabulary Assessment for Content Area

Osa is a teacher that teaches grade three students who reside in a community that is characterized with high-percentage of English-language learners and diverse cultural backgrounds (ELLs) (Dougherty Stahl & Bravo, 2010). Throughout her teaching experience, Osa felt that her students are very engaged in the vocabulary instructions and literary block and content area instructions as supported by the increased time and attention to the aforementioned learning areas.

However, results from the Iowa Test of basic Skills (ITBS) revealed that her students gained no significant improvements on their language proficiency and vocabulary tests but Isa believes that the unavailability of appropriate assessment tools accounts for the non-favorable results that her students achieved. In line with this concept, the goal of this paper is to enumerate a collection of techniques that can teacher can adapt to and tailor according to the needs of their respective school curriculums with respect to vocabulary knowledge and vocabulary growth (Dougherty Stahl & Bravo, 2010).

Furthermore, this paper aims to emphasize the involvement of word knowledge in assessment difficulty and to propose some considerations on the alteration of existing vocabulary tests (Dougherty Stahl & Bravo, 2010). The knowledge of words is a multi-faceted characteristic that is affected by phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and phonics (Dougherty Stahl & Bravo, 2010). Hence, it is important for students to gain maximum understanding of the nature and functions of words; an event that signifies the success of a teacher.

Unfortunately, current vocabulary assessment tools must be reconsidered with respect to certain assessment dimensions in order to more accurately quantify the degree of vocabulary learning of the student. These assessment dimensions include discrete-embedded approach, selective-comprehensive style of choosing the words that are to be included in the assessment and the context-independent-context-dependent form of tests (Dougherty Stahl & Bravo, 2010).

Lastly, the three assessment methods that are recommended in this article are composed of the following: Vocabulary Knowledge Scale (VKS), Vocabulary Recognition Task (VRT), and Vocabulary Assessment Magazine (VAM). Vocabulary Knowledge Scale (VKS) is made according to the incremental stages of word learning which makes it sensitive to reflecting shifts of word knowledge gain while vocabulary recognition task (VRT) also make use of self-report coupled with demonstrated knowledge but is more flexible for teacher-made revisions (Dougherty Stahl & Bravo, 2010).

Vocabulary assessment magazine (VAM), on the other hand, make use of “short-answer and open-ended questions in response to short, unfamiliar texts, a strategy that is found to be most applicable in assessing students knowledge on scientific concepts (Dougherty Stahl & Bravo, 2010). Reflection Osa’s disappointment on the results of her students’ vocabulary assessment exam is an event that is experienced by many teachers nowadays. This is due to the fact that a number of vocabulary assessment tools are really insufficient in quantifying the degree of learning that English-language learners (ELLs) and English-Only (EO) students obtain.

Consequently, the efforts made by the authors of this article are really important and cannot be undermined because their teachings and proposals can be utilized to develop assessment tools that understand the needs and achievements of the students. Content area vocabulary development of children can be more appropriately documented by their teachers because they are the ones who directly witness the development of the students. Hence, the reconsideration of general assessment tools is needed in order to attain maximum assessment of the students’ vocabulary capabilities.

This research article supports teachers in taking firm measures when creating vocabulary assessments which can be presented to higher academic officials in order to serve as basic knowledge on the learning achievements of the students. In general, the lessons given from this article can be used in developing teacher-made vocabulary assessment tools that can help educators to more appropriately quantify the degree of vocabulary learning of students.


Dougherty Stahl, K. A. & Bravo, M. A. (2010). Contemporary classroom vocabulary assessment for content areas. The Reading Teacher, 63 (7), pp. 566-578.

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