How do the ARB levels align with the levels of commonly used reading assessments?
There are many different measures of reading and related skills being used. For example, the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) provides descriptors for reading for English language learners. In the adult literacy field, some of the reading assessment tools are Canadian Adult Reading Assessment (CARA), Diagnostic Adult Literacy Assessment for Beginning Readers (DALA), Canadian Adult Achievement Test (CAAT), Tests of Adult Basic Education (TABE), and Test of Workplace Essential Skills (TOWES). The only tool currently available that corresponds with ARB is Read Forward.
Will there be a set number of hours of instruction necessary for a learner to move between levels?
Due to the wide variability in the ways that the benchmarks are used, the instruction time required for each learner to progress between levels will fluctuate greatly. Reliable measures of time cannot be calculated for the benchmarks because of the broad scope in which they are applied and the variability of the outcomes.
Do the benchmarks align with grade levels?
No. They were designed based on research from International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) which uses a 5 point scale. It introduces an alternative way to measure adults’ reading skills. Rather than the K-12 grades, which are often inaccurate descriptions for adult reading, Benchmarks offers a more complete description of adults’ reading skills. The benchmarks range from mid-level 1 to low-level 3 of the IALS scale.
Can the ARB be used with EAL learners?
The design of the benchmarks was informed by the IALS methodology which is based on native speakers of English. Using the ARB with non-native speakers of English may give results that do not accurately portray their reading levels. This does not mean the ARB cannot be used with non-native speakers of English but consideration must be given to how the learner's first language and culture may impact their understanding of a text.
Is the ARB an assessment tool?
No, the Alberta Reading Benchmarks is a list of descriptors for reading organized into 7 levels. It does not evaluate learners’ skills or abilities. However, it can be used as the basis for developing formal and informal applications for assessment. It can be used for other purposes such as guiding reading instruction, informing learning plans, discussing learning goals and progress with learners, developing self-assessment tools, providing meaningful feedback to funders, to mention only a few.