Assessment, which involves collecting information about or evidence of your students' learning, is a continual and integral part of quality teaching. In fact, teaching without continual assessment is akin to "teaching without the children.
Fountas and Pinnell, 2001
Assessment is a critical component in the learning process. As teachers and students work towards a learning outcome, assessment informs instruction, guides students in setting learning goals, and measures progress and achievement.
There are two forms of assessment: formal and informal.
Formal district-wide literacy assessments measure overall student achievement. These measures help identify whether a student is meeting district benchmarks, or where the child is along a developmental continuum of literacy learning.
Informal assessments are performance driven; this type of assessment provides ongoing feedback to both student and teacher, and helps to drive focused and meaningful learning. Informal assessments help students to identify their strengths and challenges and set meaningful learning goals. They also help teachers to adjust instruction to support or extend learning for students based on their progress and need for differentiated instruction.
In September, January, and June, Mamaroneck teachers conduct district-wide formal assessments; they assess all students in the areas of reading and spelling against established district benchmarks. In the intervening months, teachers use a variety of informal methods of assessment during the daily reading and writing workshops and word study lessons. In some cases, additional assessment and differentiation is required to meet a student's learning needs. For additional information, visit the district's Response to Intervention page.
The district elementary literacy assessment framework prescribes the specific assessments teachers use at each grade level across the year. This framework uses the following tools to assess all students in the areas of reading, writing and word study:
Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System (K-5) uses a running record, miscue analysis, fluency rubric, and comprehension conversation to assess students' use of cueing systems; fluency; and comprehension within, about, and beyond fiction and nonfiction texts. A district reading benchmark plan helps measure student progress over time.
Fundations Unit Tests assess student progress within the district's K-2 word study curriculum. These tests measure students' phonemic awareness and phonics understanding, as well as spelling.
High-Frequency Word Lists (K-3+) assesses students' automatic recognition of words that appear most commonly in print. Students graduate from these assessments at the point in their elementary education when they master these word lists.
Early Literacy Development is measured regularly in Kindergarten and First Grade students. These assessments include:
- Phonological Awareness
- Concepts of Print
- Letter/Sound Identification
Kindergarten Screening - During the spring prior to entering kindergarten, incoming kindergarten students participate in Kindergarten screening. During this exciting time, students visit their home school, meet staff members and become familiar with the school. Through play-based experiences, the following universal screenings are administered:
- KLST-2 Language Acquisition and Skills Screening
- PLS-5 Language Acquisition and Skills Screening for Spanish speakers
- Literacy Screening
- NYSITELL Screening for English Language Learners
All classroom teachers use the following established tools and methods to monitor and document students' progress across the year as well as inform and adjust instruction:
Student Conferences (K-5) are one-on-one conversations in which the teacher explores the student's current reading and writing interests, behaviors, challenges and strengths; and then teaches him/her something specific that is both immediately useful and generally transferrable.
Informal Running Records (K-5) occur when teachers listen to individual students read a text aloud. Teachers annotate a copy of the text, recording words students read correctly and using a coding system to record students' miscues, omissions, substitutions, and self-corrections. Teachers pose questions to assess students' literal and inferential comprehension of the text.
Anecdotal Records are brief comments about observed behaviors of students at work. Teachers may record anecdotal notes while observing students during independent reading and writing, conferences, partner work, clubs, and small group instruction. Typically the notes taken by the teacher highlight the strengths the student is demonstrating as well as the suggested next steps for instruction. Teachers keep anecdotal notes in a variety of ways ranging from paper record-keeping to electronically.
Observational Checklists are another tool teachers and students use to keep track of progress and learning. Students may use checklists to self-assess their habits, behaviors and strategy use. Data gathered from checklists is often used by teachers to plan for follow up instruction as well as determine instructional goals for students.
Student Work is a written record of student understanding. Teachers use students' ongoing written work to assess and plan for whole class, small group instruction and one-on-one conferences. This student work may include reading logs, reading notebooks, writers notebooks, writing drafts and published writing.
Allington, R.L., (2001). What Really Matters for Struggling Readers. New York, NY: Longman Pubishing Group.
Anderson, C., (2005). Assessing Writers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Anderson, C., (2000). How's It Going? Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Anderson, C., (2009). Strategic Writing Conferences. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Collins, K., (2004). Growing Readers. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.
Fountas, I. C. & Pinnell, G. S., (2006). Teaching for Comprehending and Fluency.Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Fountas, I. C. & Pinnell G. S., (2001) Guiding Readers and Writers Grades 3-6. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Hampton, S. & Resnick, L. B., (2009). Reading and Writing Grade by Grade. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.