Monday, September 10, 2012

Start of Year Assessments

Now that the school year is underway, I am giving careful thought to finding out about my readers. What do I know about them? What do I need to know?

I begin with last year's test scores. I think that these are valuable in that they tell me what readers can do with extended texts in a rigorous situation. But these scores are not enough, especially for those who are struggling readers. Our next step is to assess students. Our team has found great success with the short assessments in the CORE book. The screening tools are quick to give and help us to see patterns.

Next, we do the oral reading fluency measures in Scholastic's Fluency Formula. I like the assessment in which we do three one-minute measures, and then take the median score as the one that we record. This helps kids to get over their nervousness of reading aloud to us!

So what next? It's tempting to stop here. But I always like to do one more extended response question, preferably one that has students support an inference with details from the text. (Examples of these are in my book, The Forest AND the Trees.) This kind of thinking and writing is heavily represented in the Common Core. But it's nothing new--being able to cite specific evidence from the text has always been a key skill for writers and readers. Once I have the responses in hand, I can match them up with the other assessments to see how readers do across multiple assessments in multiple situations. This graphic that I made for a workshop several years ago shows how I think about these responses and use them to plan instruction:

With all of this data in hand, we can start planning intervention groups, guided reading groups, and everyday classroom instruction. That is when the fun can begin!


  1. Can you put this document in a downloadable format? It's excellent. Thanks.

  2. Hi Nikki! If you write me an email at I can send it your way. :)