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September 1. 2017

Twitter Chat RECAP: The Power and Purpose of Assessment

On Thursday, August 31, Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell  hosted a Twitter Chat about The Power and Purpose of Assessment. People from all over the country logged in to share their thoughts about this important topic, just in time for the new school year! Followers engaged in a discussion about many different angles of assessment from how assessment informs moment-to-moment teaching decisions, to the importance of the continuous use of reading records in everyday instruction. Some favorite tweets included: 
Assessment is not teaching. It is gathering information for teaching. More...
August 28. 2017

The Power and Purpose of Assessment


 

It’s back-to-school time! Classroom organization is ready and routines are established. Now it’s time to start assessments, and that is not always an easy undertaking. First, assessment takes significant prep work: you have to print materials, note students’ prior level, set each student up in your data management system, and then assess every student in a reasonable amount of time while staying organized and keeping track of all materials and results! It’s a lot of work. It can be easy to get caught up in the logistics and lose sight of the main reason why we assess our students. So let’s take a step back and kick off the new school year thinking about the power and purpose of assessment. More...


August 15. 2017

Practice Continuous Monitoring Using Data Walls

A data wall, or a data board, is a visual tool used to keep up with the progress of all students in a class and, ultimately, in a school. It keeps student progress on display at all times. We emphasize that data walls are a teacher’s tool. It is not good practice to label students or label groups using text levels.

For teachers, however, it is important to know the instructional levels students can currently process (and that includes the behaviors and understandings outlined by the level of text) and to have a vision for what teaching is needed. The data wall becomes a living document that reveals the diversity among your students. It helps to blur grade-level lines and to remind you and your colleagues that you need to teach students where they are but give them impetus to go further.

For getting started with a data wall, these suggestions may be useful:

  • Convene teachers in a grade-level group (or some combined grade levels if needed.)
  • Have a large graph on the wall with text levels across the top and blank space to place sticky notes. Create a bracket or shading to indicate your district’s grade-level expectations.
  • Each teacher brings results of the first administration of text-based assessment, e.g., BAS, to the meeting.
  • They record the student’s first name and reading level on a sticky note with a uniform color for each grade level.
  • Add colored dots if needed for any additional information.
  • Place sticky notes under the appropriate column (text level) on the gradient.
  • Create a key so that everyone recognizes the classroom or grade level and special designations.
  • Have a discussion of what you notice as you look at the data wall and set some goals.
  • Return to the data wall at regular intervals (often quarterly) for a continuing discussion. As time goes on a student’s progress up the ladder of text, teachers can move the sticky notes and place them at a higher level.

As previously stated, the data wall should reside in the teacher's workroom. It is not a tool for students or families to see. It helps to create a culture of collaboration in which teachers can support each other in solving problems and have shared ownership of student outcomes. This culture forms the fabric to support a high-quality instructional program for literacy.

From Guided Reading, Second Edition by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.