Online Reading Comprehension Assessments

Online Reading Comprehension Assessments (ORCA) are tests of students' abilities to locate, evaluate, synthesize, and communicate information that they read online. Funded by a grant from the Institute for Education Sciences, the ORCA Project was a five-year research project to create, study, and validate assessments that educators could use in schools. The research team developed and studied the use of ORCA assessments with middle school students.

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ORCA are designed to be practical tests of middle school students' online reading comprehension. There are multiple ORCA formats that assess students' abilities to read to locate, evaluate, synthesize, and communicate information that they encounter online in different search engine and Internet environments. A locate task, for example, might require students to generate relevant keywords for a specific Internet search, effectively read the search results, and identify websites that would be helpful for addressing the given problem. The ORCA Project website has important background information about the scope of the project, test development and research (e.g., published journal articles, research reports, and conference presentations), and videos about the assessments. There is also a comprehensive administration and scoring manual, and contact email for educators to request access to the assessments and scoring system. The ORCA assessments are free for educators and students.