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May 11. 2018

FAQ Friday: How Long Does it Take to Administer the Benchmark Assessment to a Student?

Q: How long does it take to administer the Benchmark Assessment to a student?

A: At the earliest levels, a full assessment conference may take 20–30 minutes. At the upper levels, where the texts are longer and the conversations more substantive, it may take 30-40 minutes, but as you gain experience, the time will be shorter. Remember that the longer books have a stopping point for oral reading. Also, fluency makes a difference. In this guide, we make several suggestions for how to make efficient use of your time. Remember that each student has had a chance for one-on-one time reading and talking with the teacher.

<<To see more FAQs or get answers to other questions from a trained consultant, please visit the Discussion Board!>>

April 26. 2018

Getting Kindergarteners to Level D

In 2012, as the result of ongoing data collection, changes were made to the recommended grade-level goals on the F&P Text Level Gradient™. Instead of kindergarteners completing the grade at an instructional level C the gradient shows them exiting at an instructional level D. Since this change, many kindergarten teachers struggle with how to meet this goal. But it’s important to know that it is possible! Below are some suggestions on how to accomplish this goal in practical ways that also instills an absolute joy of reading and writing.

A Literacy-Rich Day

Literacy should be woven through everything you do from the minute your children walk in the door. For example, as soon as children arrive for the day, they fall into a routine of finding and flipping over a name card in a pocket chart to indicate attendance. Then they sign their names in response to a question on a class-size piece of paper before going to an opening circle. The question and talk around the responses can then begin the opening circle. So just in walking in the door and getting to circle, children have been exposed to letters, sounds, opinions, writing of their names (letter formation), and talk supporting an opinion. 

Interactive Read-Aloud

Through interactive read-aloud, we teach children to think and share using books that not only instill joy but provoke conversation. We model for children how to use pictures to make predictions and connections, as well as infer how characters are feeling or what is motivating their actions. We also model language, language structures, and how to talk about books, scaffolding children who have limited language.

Shared Reading

In shared reading, we begin to show children how print works using books with enlarged text that have wonderful illustrations and language that pull the children in. These books are designed for children to be able to read them with support after having heard them read at least once. We bring attention to letters and sounds; concepts of print, such as left to right; phonological awareness with a focus on hearing rhymes, syllables, and words; and, later, focusing on individual sounds with attention to building a bank of high-frequency words and comprehension.

Shared and Interactive Writing

Shared and interactive writing should also be an important part of the daily routine. In shared writing, children see what it looks like to be a writer as they contribute to the thinking that goes on the page. This might be a shared experience or response to something read or a story the children are composing together. It can be as simple as a list of some kind or labeling of an illustration. You are writing out loud, saying what you are doing as you are doing it, and giving your children opportunities to choose words, practice language structures, and see and hear how letters are formed. 

Writing Workshop

Writing workshop will give children an opportunity to practice what you are doing in shared and interactive writing. And though it may begin with only drawing, it will build as they have daily lessons in writing through your shared and interactive writing.

Observation 

Your observations from all of this work will lead to differentiation in small-group work leading toward guided reading. In small group, you can differentiate with fun tasks and lessons in letter/sound correspondence, phonological awareness, letter formation, and, later, high-frequency words. You can even do small group shared reading for those who need more practice in a book previously used. 

Rely on the Resources 

We have to depend on the resources we have available in order to reach the goal of getting children to level D. The most important resource we can use is The Literacy Continuum. Through using this valuable resource on a daily basis we can truly understand the many stepping stones that lead to the goal of level D. Become familiar with the goals of text levels A–D. Read the snapshots carefully at the beginning of each level description. Note the characteristics that change from level to level. 

Other valuable resources include Literacy's Beginnings, which is a wonderful text that describes what a literacy-rich kindergarten classroom looks and sounds like, and the new Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ Kindergarten System, which includes materials to support teachers and administrators in providing a literacy-rich kindergarten appropriate to the 21st century.

We still have many young children entering kindergarten with no literacy knowledge, but that doesn’t mean they are struggling or that learning will be hard for them. It often means they haven’t had the opportunity. We have to provide those opportunities with a goal of kindergarten being fun but embedding learning within the fun and making every minute count.

Read HERE about the rationale behind the changes to the F&P Text Level Gradient™.  

~The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Team 

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April 13. 2018

FAQ Friday: What are the Major Differences Between Benchmark Assessment System, Second and Third Editions?

Q: What are the major differences between Benchmark Assessment System, Second and Third Editions?

  • New Comprehension Conversation Scoring Rubrics. The new rubrics enable more rigorous and consistent administration, analysis, and scoring. 
  • Revised Comprehension Conversation scoring. We have found that teachers need more guidance on how to conduct the Comprehension Conversation portion of the reading record. To provide this help, we have more clearly defined this process through the creation of a new rubric and have updated the scoring criteria. As a result, there will be more consistency and accuracy in scoring this portion of the assessment. Elimination of the extra point will bring greater consistency of scoring among teachers. 
  • Updates to the Assessment Guides, Recording Forms, Online Data Management System, and the Benchmark Assessment System Reading Record Apps
  • Enhanced digital delivery and elimination of physical CDs and DVDs. All Recording Forms, Summary Forms, optional assessments, and all NEW Professional Development Videos and Tutorial Videos are now available on Online Resources. In an effort to meet the changing technology landscape, we are eliminating the inclusion of any CDs or DVDs in the system. A unique product code, available on the inside front cover of each Third Edition Assessment Guide, will "unlock" the content in Online Resources. 
  • All new student and teacher video examples on the Professional Development Videos. Video examples are updated with all new content, including the new prompts and scoring for the comprehension conversation. 
  • Benchmark Assessment books revised for factual information in nonfiction and other minor changes in fiction and nonfiction.

<<To see more FAQs or get answers to other questions from a trained consultant, please visit the Discussion Board!>>

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.