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Do Your Students Understand The Text? Use the Cloze Procedure & Find Out

By Anne Vize

A cloze test is a neat tool to help you assess whether you are giving your students content which suits their reading levels. The cloze procedure helps teachers plan lessons that span multiple reading levels in a classroom.

What is the Cloze Test?

A cloze test is a means of assessing student competence in applying reading strategies to what they are reading, as well as determining their ability to comprehend the text. In a reading cloze test (also known as the cloze procedure), words are deleted through a short passage, and the student is asked to fill in the blanks. When using this procedure, it is not essential that the exact same word from the original text is given by the student; rather it is their ability to nominate a word which is logical and grammatically correct which is being assessed.

This cloze procedure is suited to students who are reading chapter books, as well as those who are reading at higher levels. It can also be used in a modified format for students who are reading at lower reading levels, although they may struggle with longer test procedures and may require assistance.

How to Administer the Test

To use the cloze procedure with your students, use the following steps:

  1. Take a representative passage of text from the book or other writing source and copy it, or scan and convert it into a word document.
  2. Delete words either according to the goals of your assessment or at a rate of about every fifth word.
  3. Ask students to fill in the blank spaces with a word which makes sense to them, given the context of the rest of the piece of text.
  4. Assess the finished result.

Students who are unable to fill in the blanks at the one word in five rate may be reading a piece which is too challenging for them. Be aware that you will need to manually assess whether it is possible to deduce the missing words from the text, as in some cases you may need to alter the rate to one in six, or amend the test slightly so a more logical word option is left blank.

How Will this Help You and Your Students?

Teachers use the cloze test for a variety of reasons, so you can adapt them to suit your own teaching situation as needed. Here are a few examples of what the results may mean and how this procedure could help you adapt your teaching to the students in your classroom.

A student who struggles to suggest logical word replacements for the majority of missing words may be reading text which is at too high a reading age for their skills. They may have specific reading problems which need addressing, such as difficulties understanding the various parts of speech such as nouns, verbs and conjunctions. They may be learning English as an additional language, and so lack the ability to use English language grammar rules to replace the missing words.These students may benefit from systems such as the Magic 100 Words.

For some students, a visual problem such as a difficulty tracking words in a horizontal plane across the page may be behind a reading difficulty. By contrast, some students who breeze through a cloze test may be reading material which is much too easy for their abilities, and could well do with being given an extra challenge.

As a teacher, take a realistic look at the results of the cloze test, and compare the findings across a whole grade or grade level. Using this procedure early in the year can save you a lot of unnecessary hard work and trauma later as you will know from the outset that your books are written at a level which suits the skills of your learners.

For students who are reading chapter books, utilizing the cloze test can help you plan whether books should still use picture cues, or whether students can manage longer, more complex books independently.