Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Teaching Reading K-2 Workshop.

Using Assessment To Guide Instruction: Examine the Topic

Examine the Topic

Extend Your Knowledge

In this section, you will expand your understanding of assessment practices that inform your instruction. You will compare the ideas from the workshop video with passages from various publications. Read and respond to the ideas presented as they relate to your own teaching practices.

Classroom assessment in kindergarten through second grade requires knowledge of what you want to know about your students' literacy, how you will gain that information, and how to structure classroom routines to maximize time to assess. Assessment in these grades is particularly difficult because of the wide range of student abilities and performance in reading and writing. Read the following passage on a developmental approach to assessment from the article Effective Practices for Assessing Young Readers by Paris, Paris, and Carpenter. Consider the ideas for integrating and managing assessment and instruction in your classroom.

Not many parents or teachers expect assessments to be given to kindergarten children, but such assessments can be very useful. Five-and-six-year-olds have emerging knowledge about literacy that varies widely among children depending on their home background and experiences. Early assessments can identify children who know the alphabet, who can write their own name, and who have participated in joint storybook reading -- all indicators of rich literacy environments during early childhood. Kindergarten teachers may assess these skills through observation or with brief structured tasks. For example, sharing a book with a child can be an occasion to assess a child's recognition of letters, understanding of print concepts, and ability to retell a sentence or part of the story. For children who cannot identify letters and words, teachers may choose to use wordless picture books to assess knowledge about narratives in connected pictures, a pre-reading skill and a good index of comprehension (Paris & Paris, 2000). Young children's emerging knowledge about letter-sound relations is revealed in their "invented spelling" and can be assessed by teachers who ask children to listen to a dictated sentence and then write it. Each phoneme that a child hears and represents with a letter is an indication that the child is decoding sounds that correspond to distinct letters. Kindergarten teachers can also listen to children "read" familiar books that have been memorized to assess comprehension, accuracy, and word recognition. This is a natural precursor to assessing how children read unfamiliar words and books.

Some children may begin oral reading in kindergarten, but most begin in first grade. Teachers use informal reading inventories (IRIs) to assess oral reading accuracy with running records or miscue analyses. There are commercial IRIs that provide graded word lists, graded passages or leveled books, and directions for administering and scoring them. Whether teacher-designed or commercial, the IRI is a useful task for assessing children's oral reading rate, accuracy, fluency, comprehension, and retelling in a 10- to 15-minute session. First- and second-grade teachers weave reading and writing together for both instruction and assessment. For example, they might use a Writers' Workshop activity for children to draw and write about a recent event. They may use process writing in small groups as a means of assessing children's revising skills, while simultaneously encouraging children to read and edit each other's work. Reports, projects, and journals are used frequently in grades 1-3 because children are motivated to write about their own experiences. These work samples, whether assembled in folders, portfolios, or journals, provide excellent assessments of literacy accomplishments that can be shared with children and parents (Paris & Ayres, 1994). Many teachers like to assess children's attitudes about reading and how often they read on their own, so they may ask children to fill out brief surveys, answer open-ended questions, or keep records of when and what they read. Research has shown that young children often read less than 10 minutes per day outside school, and we know that positive attitudes and literacy habits are the foundation for early reading success (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). Some of the most frequent K-2 literacy assessments are shown below.

Usually assessed at
grade levels:

Assessment tasks

K

1

2

Letter identification; letter-sound correspondences

X

X

 

Phonological awareness (e.g., rhyming, blending)

X

X

 

Concepts About Print

X

X

 

Oral language and listening

X

X

 

Decoding and word identification

X

X

X

Oral reading rate and fluency

 

X

X

Journals, portfolios, work samples

X

X

 

Comprehension and retelling

 

X

X

Attitudes about reading

 

X

X

Book logs, reading habits, interests

 

 

X

Paris, S. G., A. H. Paris, and R. D. Carpenter. Effective Practices for Assessing Young Readers. (CIERA Report #3-013), 1-18. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement, 2002.

Based on your own assessment practices, reflect on these questions:

  • What are the instructional contexts that can provide important information about literacy learning?
  • What are the similarities in assessments across kindergarten through grade 2? How do the assessments differ?
  • What areas of literacy are critical to assessment?
  • How did the classroom excerpts illustrate the ideas in this passage?
  • Where might you observe examples of student literacy outside of instructional routines?

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