A fine-tuned look at literacy – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

A fine-tuned look at literacy

Professor of Education Charles Temple recently published a new reading assessment tool for figuring out what a child can and cannot do when he is learning how to read. “It gives a fine-tuned look at what areas need strengthening,” explains Temple. “Developmental Literacy Inventory” tests word recognition, comprehension fluency, listening capacity, phonics knowledge, and emergent literacy concepts. The tool includes text passages used for pre- and post-testing which are ranked by MetaMetrics Inc.’s Lexile system. “The Lexile system measures levels of readability,” explains Temple. “It’s important that the reading material you put in the hands of a child is at the appropriate level.” The Developmental Literacy Inventory also provides a thorough list of books for each reading level. The Colleges, as well as the greater Geneva community, have been involved in the development of this assessment tool since its inception in 2004. America Reads volunteers and Temple’s students have tested sections of the inventory over the past few years and William Smith alumna Chrystne Wood ’04, MAT ’05 wrote her thesis based on field-testing parts of the tool. In addition, teachers at West Street School and North Street School reviewed it and provided feedback. In addition to measuring a child’s reading skills, it can be used in other areas of education. “You might see a child in a classroom who regularly neglects his homework. This tool could identify reading problems that might help explain why he hasn’t been doing his assignments,” Temple says. He and colleagues who worked with him to develop the inventory hope to develop a parallel instrument for Spanish-speaking children and they have begun preliminary work with colleagues in Argentina and El Salvador. Recently, Temple served as a keynote presenter at the Congreso La Educacion al Servicio del Apredizaje, sponsored by the Salvadoran Ministry of Education and USAID and organized by the Salvadoran group, FEPADE. Temple conducted four workshops consisting of creative dramatics, readers’ theater, poetry reading and writing, and book-making. In addition, Temple led a team of trainers as part of a two-week program in Kakata, Liberia. The program was geared toward the 90 educators recruited from around the country for Liberia’s Rural Teacher Training Institutes and was the first event this summer conducted under the USAID-funded Liberia Teacher Training Project. One participant commented that “This training is very rewarding. It has dramatically changed my traditional concept of teaching to an improved efficiency of teaching and learning. I am a new Liberian teacher now!” Temple is chair of the education department, co-founder and director of the Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking (RWCT) Project, and a recipient of the Fulbright Scholar Award. He received his B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina, and his M.Ed. (curriculum studies) and Ph.D. (reading education) from the University of Virginia.