The Reading for Information assessment measures an examinee's skill in reading and understanding work-related instructions and policies. The reading passages and questions in the assessment are based on the actual demands of the workplace. Passages take the form of memos, bulletins, notices, letters, policy manuals, and governmental regulations. Such materials differ from the expository and narrative texts used in most reading instruction, which are usually written to facilitate reading. Workplace communication is not necessarily well-written or targeted to the appropriate audience. Because the Reading for lnformation assessment uses workplace texts, the assessment is more reflective of actual workplace conditions.
The reading materials and related multiple-choice questions comprise five levels of complexity, with Level 3 being the least complex and Level 7 the most complex. Although Level 3 is the least complex, the questions require a level of reading skill well above simple decoding. The levels build on each other, each incorporating the skills assessed at the preceding levels. Examinees are given 40 minutes to answer 30 multiple-choice questions.
Questions at Level 3 measure the examinee's skill in reading short, uncomplicated passages which use elementary vocabulary. The reading materials include basic company policies, procedures, and announcements. All of the information needed to answer the questions is stated clearly in the reading materials, and the questions focus on the main points of the passages. At this level, the wording of the questions and answers is similar or identical to the wording used in the reading materials.
Questions at Level 3 require the examinee to identify uncomplicated key concepts and simple details; recognize the proper placement of a step in a sequence of events, or the proper time to perform a task; identify the meaning of words that are defined within the passage; identify the meaning of simple words that are not defined within the passage; recognize the application of instructions from the passage to situations that are described in the passage.
At Level 4, the reading passages axe slightly more complex than those at Level 3. They contain more detail and describe procedures which involve a greater number of steps. Some passages describe policies and procedures with a variety of factors which must be considered in order to decide on appropriate behavior. The vocabulary, while elementary, contains words that are more difficult than those at Level 3. For example, the word "immediately" may be used at this level, whereas at Level 3 the phrase "right away" would be used. At this level, the questions and answers are paraphrased from the passage.
In addition to the skills tested at the preceding level, questions at Level 4 require the examinee to identify important details that are less obvious than those in Level 3; recognize the application of more complex instructions, some of which involve several steps, to described situations; recognize cause-effect relationships.
Passages at Level 5 are more detailed, more complicated, and cover broader topics than those at Level 4. Words and phrases may be specialized (e.g., jargon and technical terms), and some words may have multiple meanings. Questions at this level typically call for applying information given in the passage to a situation that is not specifically described in the passage. All of the information needed to answer the questions is stated clearly in the passages, but the examinee may need to take several considerations into account in order to choose the correct responses.
In addition to the skills tested at the preceding levels, questions at Level 5 require the examinee to identify the paraphrased definition of jargon or technical terms that are defined in the passage; recognize the application of jargon or technical terms to stated situations; recognize the definition of acronyms that are defined in the passage; identify the appropriate definition of words with multiple meanings; recognize the application of instructions from the passage to new situations that are similar to those described in the reading materials; recognize the application of more complex instructions to described situations, including conditionals and procedures with multiple steps.
Passages at Level 6 are significantly more difficult than those at the previous level. The presentation of the information is more complex; passages may include excerpts from regulatory and legal documents. The procedures and concepts described are more elaborate. Advanced vocabulary, jargon, and technical terms are used. Most information needed to answer the questions correctly is not clearly stated in the passages. The questions at this level require examinees to generalize beyond the stated situation, to recognize implied details, and to recognize the probable rationale behind policies and procedures.
In addition to the skills tested at the preceding levels, questions at Level 6 require the examinee to recognize the application of jargon or technical terms to new situations; recognize the application of complex instructions to new situations; recognize, from context, the less common meaning of a word with multiple meanings; generalize from the passage to situations not described in the passage; identify implied details; explain the rationale behind a procedure, policy, or communication; generalize from the passage to a somewhat similar situation.
The questions at Level 7 are similar to those at Level 6 in that they require the examinee to generalize beyond the stated situation, to recognize implied details, and to recognize the probable rationale behind policies and procedures. However, the passages are more difficult: the density of information is higher, the concepts are more complex, and the vocabulary is more difficult. Passages include jargon and technical terms whose definitions must be derived from context.
In addition to the skills tested at the preceding levels, questions at Level 7 require the examinee to recognize the definitions of difficult, uncommon jargon or technical terms, based on the context of the reading materials; figure out the general principles underlying described situations and apply them to situations neither described in nor completely similar to those in the passage.