Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"Learning to Read" to "Reading to Learn" Part 1: Assessments

So, on my way to figuring out how I'm going to help Builder Boy make the transition from "learning to read" to "reading to learn," (hereto after shortened to "LTR 2 RTL") I realized I should probably start with knowing where exactly he is now. But how?

Reading Eggs has a Parent's Dashboard where parents can keep track of what their kids are doing on the program and where developmentally the program thinks your kid is. The problem for me, however, is that the Reading Eggs levels only go up to what they consider to be "age 7." That doesn't give me a grade level, and I already know that these levels were nothing new for Builder Boy.

Looking to my curriculum isn't much help either. We use The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading and supplement with Hooked on Phonics. Unfortunately, OPGTR doesn't come with grade levels labeled, even though it is described as a complete K-4 curriculum. I did a match up of the two, using HOP to decide where grade levels in OPGTR is, but HOP only goes through 2nd grade. And both kids finished those 6 months ago. (Interestingly, those HOP levels cover pretty much the same stuff as Reading Eggs, which puts Reading Eggs at a K-2 level as well.)

A few weeks ago or so I was reading something on The Well Trained Mind Forum and saw a link to the San Diego Quick Reading Assessment. It gives you a list of ten words per grade level and has kids read them. If they get 9/10, they "pass" that level of reading. Personally, that seems a bit....incomplete for a reading "assessment," not to mention that it seems to be mainly sight words since they have "play, see, look, here" on the pre-school level! Out of curiosity I showed it to the boys (independent of each other) and they both passed the 2nd grade level, but not the 3rd (which had words like "frightened" and "exclaimed.")

At the beginning of our "school year" I purchased 3-Minute Reading Assessments: Word Recognition, Fluency, and Comprehension: Grades 1-4 at the referral of Jen at Teaching My Baby to Read. This book of assessments is MUCH more thorough than the Sand Diego Quick Assessment. It is intended for classroom use, but as it's one-on-one it works just fine for a homeschool setting (assuming you can get your other kids to leave you and the one child alone for 5 minutes.) It has four different reading passages per grade level, so you're always testing them on something they haven't read before. There are clear directions on what to listen for, how to conduct the assessment, and scoring charts and record keeping devices that are very nice. The pages don't tear out, so it's a bit of a pain to scan in the pages perfectly straight, but the book isn't all that thick, so as long as you don't have a problem with breaking the bindings on books like this, you're fine. They recommend that you give the assessment at different times throughout the school year so you can track improvement and spot areas that need working on. I gave this test to Builder Boy at the beginning of the "school year" and then with the move and being sick from being pregnant forgot about it until last week. I gave a 1st grade assessment to each of the boys (again, individually) since tecniclly we're still "1st grade" and they both passed on word recognition accuracy and reading fluency-automaticity, but I forgot to rate their expression or test their comprehension. Since they did so well I gave Builder Boy a 2nd grade assessment informally. I just had him read the passage to me out of the book without me keeping track of every mistake and he did very well on that as well. (Early Bird got distracted by something and didn't want to go on when it was his turn.) I will probably next Monday give him another of the 2nd grade assessment tests formally, and try to make sure I rate his expression and comprehension as well.

Since I'm trying to follow the steps (just maybe not in order) that Jen lays out in her "LTR 2 RTL" blog post, as part of assessment I also need to figure out Builder Boy's Guided Reading Level. More on that tomorrow.

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