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Gathering Information About My Readers With Formal Reading Assessments

By Beth Newingham on October 15, 2012
  • Grades: 3–5

After I have read over my students' (and their parents') reading interviews and touched base with each reader individually for a "meet the reader" conference, I begin doing formal assessments.

In our district, we use the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System. We attempt to determine each child's independent and instructional reading levels. I can usually complete two to three assessments during Individualized Daily Reading (IDR) each day. (Other districts may use similar assessments, such as the DRA.)

These assessments are so useful when planning my future instruction. As I listen to each child read aloud and then talk about the story, I learn incredibly important information about the child's fluency, rate of reading, decoding skills, and level of comprehension. I use Fountas and Pinnell's "Guide for Observing and Noting Reading Behaviors" checklist and highlight any skills we should work on throughout the year using direct instruction.

As I complete each individual assessment, I also make plans for future strategy group lessons. When a student is struggling with a common skill or strategy, I add the skill to my "Possible Strategy Groups" form and write the student's name underneath. As I assess additional students, I add more names underneath the same (or new) strategy lesson skill on the form. 

By the time I am done assessing my whole class, I have many small group strategy lessons I will be ready to teach during IDR time. Some skills are so glaringly weak that I know I will have to teach them as whole group mini-lessons.

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