In her classroom, Ms. Evans uses ongoing assessment to inform her instruction. Read the following selections from an interview on her approach to assessment and answer the questions below.
Q: What is your approach to formal assessment?
A: My formal assessments consist of a barrage of tests starting with phonemic awareness assessments. I do most of my reading assessments one on one. Also I do a basic phonics skills test and I find out whether [students] know their letters and their sounds, and their vowels and their digraphs. And then they do some reading for me of some short vowel words like be or see. The basic phonics skills test I give has a sequence of skills so that it has final E words or R-controlled vowel words so I can really pinpoint the gaps. I also do a spelling inventory which tells me if they are applying the knowledge, because oftentimes reading and spelling are different. And also I use a high-frequency word list at the beginning of the year, so I know where to start. I want to find out, what words do they know? And we keep working through those 300 high-frequency words during the year, as many as we can get through with each kid. It's very individualized. And then I do a running record, or a miscue analysis reading record. That is really where it all comes together. I see whether they are actually able to apply the phonics skills or the phonemic awareness knowledge for sounding out words, and how well they can read.
Q: What is your approach to informal assessment?
A: Every day I spend time watching kids doing independent work, working in centers. Sometimes I carry a little notepad around with me and make notes to myself. I keep notes of what happens in my guided-reading groups. I think that's some of the best time, because it is such a small group that I can really take good notes; for instance, Randy doesn't understand this or Monica did really well on that. And sometimes those notes mean that I can move a child to a different group. Either they are doing better or they are not keeping up with the group. Oftentimes after work with a small group I will hold one child back. And it is a little quick assessment because I have a question about their placement or did they get what we did in the lesson? And I do a check with them. So I do a lot of informal assessment that way. And sometimes just two minutes that I spend with a child gives me a lot of information to know where to go with him the rest of the day.
Q: What standards influence your instruction?
A: In the state of California there are standards in word recognition, in phonics, and in phonemic awareness. And there are standards in comprehension and word study. So I try to intermingle all of those different standards, meeting the needs of the kids. It's hard when differentiating instruction, when the standard is here, and your child is only working at this level. I try to look to the standards, and what is my benchmark for the end of the year. Where is it that I want this child to be? And how do I need to lay the foundation so that she can get there? What is it that I need to do to be able to help them meet those standards? The formative and summative assessments I do help guide me and guide my instruction, to help them reach those standards.
- What specific areas of literacy does Ms. Evans address with these assessment tools? How does she assess students' engagement in authentic reading and writing tasks?
- How does Ms. Evans's assessment approach compare to your own? What kind of assessment tools -- and how much assessment -- do you think are beneficial?
- Review the First Grade Student Record Sheet used by Ms. Evans and developed by the California Reading and Literature Project. What does it assess? How would you use this assessment information to inform your own instruction?