Purpose: Kannada, one of the Dravidian languages, is the official language of Karnataka state of India. There is a need for a test using Kannada words that can assess visual aspects of reading independently of syntactic and semantic knowledge. Methods: A test of reading rate in Kannada was developed following the design principles of the Wilkins Rate of Reading Test (RRT). Fifteen high-frequency bisyllabic Kannada words were selected. Children were recruited from state and private schools that used Kannada or English as the medium of instruction. A total of 799 children from Grade 2 to 9 participated in the study. Reading rate was measured using the English RRT and the Kannada version twice in immediate succession during the first session. In 85 children, measurements using the Kannada RRT were repeated after an interval of 15 days. Results: Pearson product moment correlation between the two immediately successive tests was 0.95 for the Kannada RRT and 0.91 for the English RRT. The correlation for the tests separated by an interval of 15 days was 0.83. When Kannada was the medium of instruction, there was little difference between test scores for Kannada and English. When English was the medium of instruction, test scores were greater in English. Scores increased as expected with age (P < 0.0001), similarly for Kannada and English tests. Conclusion: The newly developed Kannada RRT is both reliable and valid and can be used as a tool for measuring the visual aspects of reading.
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