In Part I, I wrote about how important it is for teachers to have an efficient data tracking system in place. In Part II, we will look at some of the assessments I use, and how I use them to measure student growth.
A few reliable assessments I like to use include:
- Dibels (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy). I use this assessment to measure grade-level reading fluency. The good news is–it’s FREE! (The not so good news is it takes a long time to assemble once printed and is somewhat confusing to assemble) Type “Dibels” in your search engine and download from the University of Oregon. At the beginning of the year, make packets for each student and grade level (for me, that means grades K-6). Give your students each 3 one-minute timed passages to read. This will take place three times a year in fall, winter, and spring. Each time, calculate the words per minute for the three passages, as well as errors, and record the median score. You will now have your student’s grade level fluency rate. This is great solid data to have, and will show whether your students are making growth in their decoding and fluency.
- DRA, (Developmental Reading Assessment). I have worked at four different schools, and they have all had a set of DRAs. As such, I am hoping you have access to this assessment. The DRA will give you a fluency rate once students are decoding, but I like to use it primarily to look at reading comprehension and writing skills. The assessment has a range of what it tests, depending on grade level, but once students are decoding, they read a passage and answer comprehension questions and write a passage. It is always a good idea to have a leveled writing assessment. This will show whether students are on grade-level, ahead, or lagging behind. The one tricky thing about the DRA is it is graded based on a rubric, and though mostly structured, it can be a little more subjective when graded depending on the teacher.
- QPA (Quick Phonics Assessment). This is another assessment that you can download for FREE. A colleague recently introduced me to this test, and I really like. Each subtest looks at different phonetic reading skills, and gives you a good idea where to focus. For example, you may see a deficit in r-controlled vowels, vowel teams, and multisyllabic words. This, in turn, helps guide your teaching instruction and address areas of need and deficits.
I hope this helps! In Part III, we will look at tracking methods, and what to do if you find you have a student (or students) who isn’t showing growth. Have a wonderful weekend!
As a Learning Specialist, I report progress on IEP goals in quantitative terms. As such, it’s essential (for my sanity) to have a good system in place for recording and retrieving student data.
Setting up a system is initially time consuming, but once in place, it saves you time and allows you to be accurate and confident in your reporting throughout the year. It is also a great way for you to identify areas of need and growth for your students.
Here are some key points to consider/follow when recording major data points:
- Identify what you want to measure.
- Identify what assessments you will use to measure student growth.
- Give assessment and establish a baseline for each student.
- Identify how often you will access; this is typically fall, winter, and spring.
When thinking about data collection, mull over these points and ask, “What do I want to measure?” For me, this typically includes: decoding, fluency, comprehension, writing, and mathematical computations.
In Part II, I will give you specific examples of what assessments I use, and how I record them.
Whether you are writing a goal for: students to meet school benchmarks in reading, a student on an IEP (Individualized Education Program), a personal goal, or a goal for your child, goals should be specific and measureable.
A goal should include these components:
- a baseline (current level)
- how you will measure the goal
- when the goal is expected to be met
- a reasonable amount of expected growth/progress (goals need to be attainable!)
Here is a sample goal:
By 12/2014, “Johnny” will write a five sentence paragraph including a topic sentence, three supporting sentences, and a close, with 80% accuracy in 4 out of 5 trials as measured by student writing samples and a rubric.
Baseline: Johnny currently writes one sentence beginning with a capital and ending with an end mark.
Goals can also have objectives that break the goal down even further. For example, you could add as an objective: Johnny will use a graphic organizer to organize his ideas for his paragraph.
Again, it really helps to know where your student/child is at, and where you would like him or her to be. Make sure the goals are reasonable. Most students make a years worth of academic growth in a given year. If a student has a learning disability, adjust the goal to meet his or her learning pace.
Your child or students may be receiving special education services.
I want to emphasize:
Special education is a service. Special education does not refer to a place, and it does not refer to a person.
These services may be offered in a variety of settings ranging from the least restrictive, in the general education classroom, to more restrictive, such as a separate classroom. Some students flourish in a more restrictive environment, and some students flourish in a less restrictive environment; it is highly individualized.
As a rule:
The environment should best meet the needs of the student in the least restrictive environment (LRE).