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August 15. 2017

Practice Continuous Monitoring Using Data Walls

A data wall, or a data board, is a visual tool used to keep up with the progress of all students in a class and, ultimately, in a school. It keeps student progress on display at all times. We emphasize that data walls are a teacher’s tool. It is not good practice to label students or label groups using text levels.

For teachers, however, it is important to know the instructional levels students can currently process (and that includes the behaviors and understandings outlined by the level of text) and to have a vision for what teaching is needed. The data wall becomes a living document that reveals the diversity among your students. It helps to blur grade-level lines and to remind you and your colleagues that you need to teach students where they are but give them impetus to go further.

For getting started with a data wall, these suggestions may be useful:

  • Convene teachers in a grade-level group (or some combined grade levels if needed.)
  • Have a large graph on the wall with text levels across the top and blank space to place sticky notes. Create a bracket or shading to indicate your district’s grade-level expectations.
  • Each teacher brings results of the first administration of text-based assessment, e.g., BAS, to the meeting.
  • They record the student’s first name and reading level on a sticky note with a uniform color for each grade level.
  • Add colored dots if needed for any additional information.
  • Place sticky notes under the appropriate column (text level) on the gradient.
  • Create a key so that everyone recognizes the classroom or grade level and special designations.
  • Have a discussion of what you notice as you look at the data wall and set some goals.
  • Return to the data wall at regular intervals (often quarterly) for a continuing discussion. As time goes on a student’s progress up the ladder of text, teachers can move the sticky notes and place them at a higher level.

As previously stated, the data wall should reside in the teacher's workroom. It is not a tool for students or families to see. It helps to create a culture of collaboration in which teachers can support each other in solving problems and have shared ownership of student outcomes. This culture forms the fabric to support a high-quality instructional program for literacy.

August 11. 2017

Enhanced Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Recording Forms: Why we changed them and how it might affect you


Fountas and Pinnell are always working with teachers in schools, observing new practices and refining their current thinking. After witnessing many assessments being administered using the Benchmark Assessment System (BAS) they realized that gaining strong behavioral evidence of understanding (using talk as evidence) was new or unfamiliar to many teachers. In fact, many teachers were not receiving enough opportunity for continuous professional learning in standardized administration and evidence-based scoring.

For that reason, Fountas and Pinnell created more-detailed assessment guidelines and a new comprehension conversation rubric for the Recording Forms in Leveled Literacy Intervention Systems, 1st and 2nd Editions (LLI), BAS, 3rd Edition (only), and Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ Guided Reading Collection. As of August 7, 2017, customers will automaticallyreceive access to new Recording Forms via the Fountas & Pinnell Online Resources, including updates in the Online Data Management System and Reading Record Apps.

What is different?

  • New Comprehension Conversation Scoring Rubrics: The new rubrics provide greater reliability to this portion of the assessment, sharpen observation of literacy learning, and scaffold understanding of how to use evidence to assess students’ literacy learning.
  • Clarified Comprehension Conversation Scoring (Guide to Total Score): The process on how to conduct the comprehension conversation portion of the reading record has been more clearly defined through the creation of the new rubrics and an update of the scoring criteria. They have also eliminated the extra point, which will bring greater consistency of scoring among teachers.
  • Revised Comprehension Conversation key understandings and prompts to help elicit key understandings from students during the conversation that align to The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Continuum, Expanded Edition.
  • Updates to Online Data Management System, and the Reading Record Apps to align with the above enhancements.

 Who is affected?

This change should have no impact on teachers using the Recording Forms for LLI, 2nd Edition, BAS, 3rd Edition, and FPC Guided Reading Collections. However, since the scoring and the conversation for the Recording Forms in BAS, 1st and 2nd Editions are remaining the same, there has been concern about using the results of those assessments in conjunction with the new, enhanced forms and whether or not they will match. For those customers, you can rest assured that consistency will stay intact, and here’s why: BAS is an interval assessment used to determine an optimal learning level, while other Recording Forms (in LLI and FPC Guided Reading Collection) are continuous assessment tools to monitor progress. In addition, knowledge gained through the new Recording Forms will naturally transfer to use with the BAS, 1st and 2nd Edition Recording Forms and thus result in greater reality over time.

With refinement comes reflection

With the clear guidelines and rubrics, Fountas and Pinnell are confident that educators will achieve consistency. The new guidelines and rubric will enable teachers to sharpen their observation of students’ reading behaviors and strengthen the connection from assessment to instruction. Take this time to reflect on observations and the assessment analysis, and engage in a discussion with colleagues to plan rich and comprehensive literacy experiences that meet learners where they are and bring them forward with intention and precision. 

To get a deeper explanation on this important enhancement, view the whitepaper on The Role of Recording Forms Across the Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Brand: A Message from Literacy Leaders, Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell.

~The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Team

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