Brandi J. Clark

Writer and Educator

Do You Prepare Students for Reading Assessments?

Cactus and book

If you don’t …You should…

Here’s why…

My fear is that not all struggling readers…are in fact struggling.

shocked kid

Observation #1: Students don’t change reading levels as often as they should.

Here’s an exercise analogy…to build muscles, you need to lift heavier and heavier weights. If you continue to lift the same weight or the do the same amount of repetitions, there will be little growth.

For students this is similar…to build reading muscles they need to “lift” challenging texts. If they continue to read “just right” books, there will be little growth.

It is through classroom instruction with challenging texts that reading growth happens.

My fear is that students are not challenged as often as they should be and are stuck in “just right” books at levels that they have long mastered.

Observation #2: Many teachers rely only on standardized reading assessments to adjust a student’s reading level.

When I began teaching, we were instructed on how to create our own informal reading assessments using running records and comprehension questions. This practice facilitated reading level changes more frequently as the process was quick yet still informative. I have noticed in the past several years, teachers have stepped away from their own professional judgement using informal reading assessments and rely solely on formal reading assessment kits. The is an entire post on to itself—stay tuned!

Observation #3: Students engaged in a standardized reading assessment do not know their rights.

We have no problems preparing students for all other tests in Math, Science and Social, but not reading assessments.

Why is that?

Reading assessments are a type of testing genre that students need to know about. The amount of weight placed on these tests can be huge. When I say this, I mean that in some classrooms, formal reading assessments are the only basis for changing a student’s reading level. So it makes sense to educate students on how important these are and how to prepare for them. I have created a list of reading rights based on the current reading assessment at our school.

Reading Assessment Rights for All Students

1. I have the right to be assessed under favorable conditions. (This means assessing when the student is in a favorable mood and not tired.)
2. I have the right to choose fiction or nonfiction books. (This means allowing them to choose a book they are interested in.)
3. I have the right to see the book if I ask to see it. (This means that when telling students about reading assessments, inform them that they can ask to see the book when you ask them questions.)
4. I have the right to get an additional point for extra information. (This means student should be encouraged to make connections as they talk about a book’s content in order to gain that extra point.)
5. I have the right to seek clarification.(This means that students should be able to ask questions if they need to, for whatever reason, during a reading assessment.)
6. I have the right to classroom instruction that includes questions within, beyond and about the text.(This means that comprehension conversations should be happening naturally during Read Alouds, Shared Reading, Guided Reading and one on one reading instruction.)

So, this is my latest thinking on Reading Assessments. They are a valuable part of the classroom reading workshop but like anything they need to be used responsibly.

Until Next Time,

Lit Maven Out!

About Brandi Clark