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March 20. 2018

Teacher Tip: 6 Ways to Save Time During the Assessment Conference

To save time during the assessment conference, consider the following suggestions:

  1. Starting Point. Knowing where to start will save the student from having to read numerous texts. Use last year's reading records to get an indication of where to start, or what will be an independent text for the student. Then have in mind the next text, an instructional text, for the student.
  2. Organized Materials. Keep you Benchmark Assessment books and Recording Forms well organized in a hanging file next to you so you can "hit the ground running."
  3. Familiarity with Books. When you know the Benchmark Assessment books and key understandings well, you can move the comprehension conversation along briskly.
  4. Fluency. If your readers are fluent, the reading will take less time.
  5. Hard Text. As soon as a student's text reading shows the number of errors indicative of hard text, discontinue the reading. There is no need for the student to struggle through the whole text.
  6. Comprehension Conversation. If the text is hard (based on accuracy), do not have the comprehension conversation.

From the BAS Assessment Guide, 3rd Edition by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (C) 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

March 9. 2018

Why the Comprehension Conversation is Critical to Assessment

Students' talk reveals their thinking, which helps you know them as learners. One-on-one assessment is a great time to talk with students to learn their thinking, because what they're thinking will inform your instruction. Without talking to them and learning where they are, there's no way to know how to bring them forward. It's for this reason that the Comprehension Conversation is vital to assessment.

The Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System stands out from other assessment systems because it incorporates a rigorous and important Comprehension Conversation. The purpose of this Comprehension Conversation is to enable teachers to sharpen their observation of students' reading behaviors by hearing their thinking through talk and strengthen the connection from assessment to instruction. Here's how. More...

January 12. 2018

FAQ Friday: How Often Should the Benchmark Assessment Be Administered?

Q: How often should the Benchmark Assessment be administered?

A: We suggest that you administer the assessment at the beginning of the year to help you determine where to start your teaching with each child. You may also want to conduct the assessment in the middle of the year, to take stock of progress, though you may already have the information from your ongoing use of reading records in instruction. Finally, near the end of the year you may want to conduct one more assessment to obtain a final record of the child's growth across the year. You may decide to administer the last assessment a couple of months before the end of the year. In this case, the assessment can provide information for instruction during the last months of school, while avoiding the redundancy of testing at the very end of one year and the beginning of the next.
December 22. 2017

FAQ Friday: Can a Child Look at the Book During the Comprehension Conversation?

Q: Can a child look at the book during the comprehension conversation?

A: Yes. One purpose of the Benchmark Assessment System is to give you information to guide your instruction. If a child has to look back as a reminder it doesn’t necessarily mean the child doesn’t understand or remember. Perhaps the child doesn’t feel confident in his or her memory or talking about the text without that confirming look. Reinforcement and prompts to talk about texts without always looking back may build the child's confidence. The teacher needs to know the student and note such observations of behaviors that provide evidence of thinking and analyze the child’s thinking at that point in time.