Last week, I came across this post titled "A Level is a Teacher's Tool, NOT a Child's Label" from the Fountas and Pinnell blog.
F & P are gurus of reading assessment, so the post quickly caught my attention.
If you don't have time to read the post from F & P (although I hope you will), here are a few highlights that really hit me:
* Reading levels should guide, not limit, student choices when choosing a book for independent reading. (Donalyn Miller, The Book Whisperer, has said this too.)
* Reading levels aren't meant to be shared with students OR parents. They should not appear on a report card or in a teacher's evaluation.
* Reading levels are an estimate, not an exact measure of a student's reading ability.
* Reading is not about moving up levels, it is about enjoyment and building a lifelong habit. (Yep!)
* Reading levels are a teacher's tool to be used for assessment and instruction only.
This got me thinking about how I communicate with my student readers about their progress.
I do not use the F & P system for assessing my students, but we do take the Star Reader test every month to check for progress. (It is even a component in my teacher effectiveness plan.)
My students keep a chart in their goal notebook to track their growth. Some months, there are cheers as good growth is made. Other months, they take a peek at their new score and quickly shut their notebooks.
This made me think about an assessment experience that I think many of us can relate too -- getting on the scale when I am trying to lose weight. When the numbers on the scale go down showing good growth in my weight loss goals, I am happy and motivated to keep going. But when the numbers are stalled, or even worse, go up, I am deflated and want to go find a pack of Oreos and gallon of milk, ready to give up.
I need to think more about the post from F & P and how I can communicate reading growth to my students in a way that is positive, motivating and accurate.
I think the answer lies in conferring.
Do you have any suggestions?