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October 31. 2017

Teacher Tip: What To Do When A Student Has Read All of the Benchmark Assessment System Books

In order to get an accurate assessment using the Benchmark Assessment System and obtain observable evidence of what a student can process and understand independently it's important that the student not have already read any of the books. Sometimes, however, you might have students who seem to have "slid" back a level, perhaps over the summer or holidays. So what do you do when your students have already read the books? Here are some steps to consider: 
  • It is critical to look at The Literacy Continuum and determine what strategies need to be taught to a student who is not progressing beyond a specific level. Start there, and use other forms instruction, e.g., guided reading, to assess the student by observing what he or she specifically needs to help them process texts.
  • You can also take a quick and informal assessment by having the student read aloud from one or two other leveled books from your classroom library. Assess the percentage of words read accurately and note specific errors (substitutions, omissions, insertions). You will have an assessment of accuracy and also insights into the kind of information the child is using when errors are made (for example, words that look like other words, or words that are inaccurate but make sense). Errors can sometimes illustrate a child’s strengths and give you insights into how to help him or her.
  • When following the oral reading, involve the child in a conversation that will help you know what he or she understood from the text. You can ask several questions but the assessment should not feel like an interrogation. You could try to ask questions similar to the Benchmark Assessment System prompts.
  • If the level of the text is too difficult, move down the levels until you find something the child can read at instructional level with good understanding.
When you are simply trying to teach to the level, without fine tuning their instruction based on the individual student needs, we end up with students not progressing.
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