Teaching Reading: Final Paper (Part 4)

Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, in case you missed them. Here is my answer to the fourth prompt given as part of my Final Paper for Instructional Practices for Reading Teachers.

Write a letter to parents explaining at least 4 ways (2 informal and 2 formal) of how you will assess your students. Justify your response.

Hello to all the parents of the students in Miss Sarah’s classroom! I will be conducting both formal and informal assessments of reading throughout this school year. Formal assessments are those which compare students’ performance to other students at large to arrive at conclusions about average holistic performance, while informal assessments are done for the purpose of tracking each individual student’s progress (Vacca, et al., 2015). Despite the bad connotation that the word assessment has, allow me to assure you that assessments serve a very important purpose: They “provide students and [teachers] with ongoing information about learning progress” (Kauchak & Eggen, 2014, p. 347). The first formal assessment that this school uses is a “survey test” (Vacca, et al., 2015, p. 151). This is a formative assessment used to reveal students’ overall abilities for the purpose of identifying any areas, not just in reading, where instructional intervention might be needed (Vacca, et al., 2015). The second formal assessment used is a “diagnostic test” (Vacca, et al., 2015, p. 151). Unlike the survey test, this assessment can “provide more detailed information about individual students’ strengths and weaknesses,” as related to reading (Vacca, et al., 2015, p. 151). By using both the all-encompassing survey test and the in-depth diagnostic test as formal assessments, I will receive comprehensive information about your children’s instructional needs.

Informal assessments will make up most of the assessment I do with your children. The first informal assessment I will use is the Qualitative Reading Inventory (Kesler, 2012, “Informal Assessments”). This assessment is more time-consuming than some, but it provides a detailed report of both reading rate and comprehension (Kesler, 2012, “Informal Assessments”). I include this assessment because it covers comprehension as well as speed and accuracy in reading, which I believe is vital. “It is important to remember that fluency is not just about reading fast. Fluency is about decoding words and comprehending at the same time” (Vacca, et al., 2015, p. 237). The second informal assessment I will use is simple “running records” for each student, where I will take a moment every month or so to have the student read aloud to me while I take note of their accuracy and rate of reading (Kesler, 2012, “Informal Assessments”). This information I will record and compare to previous scores to note improvement and areas that still need practice. Running records are useful because they reveal patterns in students’ understanding of words (Vacca, et al., 2015). The third informal assessment I will conduct is based on the “National Assessment of Educational Progress Oral Reading Fluency Scale” (Vacca, et al., 2015, p. 239). This assessment is unique in that it measures not only reading accuracy, but also “smoothness, phrasing, pace, and expression” (Vacca, et al., 2015, p. 239). The ability to read with prosody, or expression, indicates a high level of both reading accuracy and comprehension (Vacca, et al., 2015). There are many easy, quick assessments besides Qualitative Reading Inventories, running records, and Oral Reading Fluency that I can and probably will use to measure my students’ progress and achievement in reading, but these three are my favorites.

References

Kauchak, D. & Eggen, P. (2014). Introduction to teaching: Becoming a professional. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Kesler, M. (2012). Informal assessments (Week 4 presentation from Instructional Practices for Reading Teachers). Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University Online.

Vacca, J. A., Vacca, R. T., Gove, M. K., Burkey, L. C., Lenhart, L. A., & McKeon, C. A. (2015). Reading & learning to read (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

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