Reading Literacy in Relation to Patterns of Academic Achievement.
John Odwar Agak
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How is reading literacy related to academic achievement among 14 year old students in Kenya? This was the main issue in focus for the present study. The International Evaluation and Educational Assessment Association (TEA) Reading Literacy Test was used for measuring reading literacy and the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) was used for measuring academic achievement. It was hypothesized that there are degrees of variation in correlation between reading literacy and each subject areas a student opts for at KCPE. It was also hypothesized that there is a variation in performance on reading literacy due to influences caused by background factors (literacy interaction) and voluntary reading processes. Reading literacy was assumed to be decomposable into latent variables including: a general reading ability factor, a document reading factor and specific passage factors. However, such a measurement model Was not successful. The selected measurement model constituted only two latent variables: a general reading ability factor which covers most of the items with very few exceptions and a documentary factor which entails those items related to identification, location and association of information in brief documents. There was also a clear evidence that the postulated components of academic achievement, namely: general reasoning and verbal abilities were present in this study. General reasoning ability proved to be the main factor across most of the subjects at KCPE while verbal ability was connected to the subjects loaded mainly with connected texts to be comprehended. When voluntary reading was explored, a good measurement model was obtained. The measurement model for voluntary reading encompassed seven different types of voluntary reading topical readings from books, magazines and newspapers. Significant relationships between voluntary reading and both reading literacy and academic achievement were observed. An examination of the background factors in the study indicated that they have an impact on students' performance on reading literacy and academic achievement. A strong relationship between reading literacy and academic achievement was noted especially when latent variables were used. This relationship remained even when the background factors were controlled. The measurement model for reading literacy and academic achievement turned out to be the same. However, there were some differences in terms of performance on reading literacy and academic achievement location wise.