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Assessment in My Reading Workshop

By Beth Newingham on May 10, 2013
  • Grades: 3–5

Many teachers are excited to implement a Reading Workshop in their classroom. And why not? It is a framework for teaching reading that allows students to read self-selected texts at their own level, and it provides us teachers with many opportunities to differentiate our teaching to meet the wide variety of readers we often find in our classrooms. However, when we give up the traditional methods of teaching reading, there can initially be a concern when it comes to assessment.

The basal texts and other prepackaged reading programs come complete with end-of-the-story comprehension questions for each selection, fill-in-the blank vocabulary worksheets to match the "one size fits all" stories, and specific questions to ask students as they are reading the stories.

We know that these methods of assessment are not accurate indicators of true reading performance, nor do they help teachers guide their instruction to meet the specific needs of individual readers in their classroom. So you are probably asking, how can I implement a Reading Workshop and also assess my readers in an effective, efficient, and, most importantly, informative way?

The most important thing to remember about assessment is that it should be used to build knowledge about our students. Too often standardized tests and other assessments teachers give to students measure what they can't do. One goal of assessment in Reading Workshop is to determine where our students are struggling. And the most important goal of assessment in Reading Workshop is to determine what our students can do.

We truly learn about our students so that we can match their learning experiences with what they read in order to be most successful. Old assessments (and those included in a basal reading text) assess students at the end of a unit. In Reading Workshop, assessment is ongoing throughout each unit so that we can alter and tailor our teaching to meet the needs of our students immediately.

Comments (4)

Beth, I loved working alongside you and need some guidance. I would love to hear from you!


You noticed that I didn't mention the use of running records or conferring with students in this post about assessment. You can check out my more in-depth post about all of the different ways I assess my students here: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/top_teaching/2009/11/assessment-reading-workshop

I hope this helps!


I love what you're saying. The truth is that basal programs historically don't live up to their promises. The Common Core State Standards were written with the idea of pushing student achievement and the only way we can provide that kind of rigor is by differentiating instruction so that students can progress through a growth model. Differentiating means different books for different kids. Literacy instruction is not a prescribed predetermined day by day instruction. It is authentic and well planned and it matches the needs of the classroom. Well said Beth!

Odd but you don't even mention the use of running records or conferring with students about their reading.

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