Originating in a recent CIERA conference held at the University of Michigan, this book brings together the nation's most distinguished researchers to examine how readers understand text and how comprehension is assessed. The first part provides both national and historical contexts for the study of reading comprehension. The second part examines how vocabulary, motivation, and expertise influence comprehension, and it includes analyses of the developmental course and correlates of comprehension. Chapters in the third part consider how schools focus on comprehension for instruction and assessment. The fourth part includes chapters on large-scale assessment that analyze how test formats and psychometric characteristics influence measures of reading comprehension. At the end of each part is a commentary--written by an expert--that reviews the chapters, critiques the main points, and synthesizes critical issues.