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Assessment & evaluation

On Teaching Nonsense Words

Lil Wayne can do rap, but he’d definitely be out of place at a Gospel Convention, sort of like a love affair with a happy ending in a Taylor Swift lyric.

So what’s out of place in reading education?

My nominee is the act of teaching kids to read nonsense words. Don’t do it. It doesn’t belong (it may even be worse than orange and green together).

Why, you might ask, would anyone teach nonsense words? I attribute this all-too-common error to a serious misunderstanding of tests and testing.

Opting Your Kid Out? Part 2

Last week, I wrote about the value of the information parents receive when their kids take common — or standardized — assessments.

Opting Your Kid Out? It Means Opting Out of Being a More Informed Parent

Some kids tell their parents everything that goes on in school.

At least, that’s what I’ve heard. My kids certainly never did. My older daughter, in particular, considered school to be her domain.

She established my outsider status her first day of nursery school, when I went to pick her up. Excited to hear about everything she had done, I asked her how her day went. Her response: “None of your business,” or something to that effect.

What Phonological Awareness Skill Should We Be Screening?

Teacher question: I read a research study (Kilpatrick, 2014) that questions the value of segmentation tests for measuring phonemic awareness, because such tests did not correlate well with first- and second-grade reading achievement. At our school we have used DIBELS in Kindergarten and Grade 1 to identify children at risk for reading difficulties. Is this really useful or are we identifying kids as needing help when they do not? Should we be using measures of blending and manipulation instead?
 
Shanahan's response:

On Progress Monitoring, Maze Tests, and Reading Comprehension Assessment

Teacher question:

Identify, Intervene as Early as Kindergarten for Students with Dyslexia, Researchers Say

In research just published by the University of California at Davis and Yale University, educators can find advice to heed now about promptly identifying and intervening with students who are dyslexic.

RtI: When Things Don't Work as You Expected

When I arose today I saw lots of tweets and Facebook posts about a new U.S. Department of Education study. Then I started getting emails from folks in the schools and in the state departments of education.

“What’s going on here?” was the common trope.

Basically, the study looked at RtI programs in Grades 1 through 3. The reports say that RtI interventions were lowering reading achievement in Grade 1 and while the RtI interventions weren’t hurting the older kids, they weren’t helping them to read better.

Be Like Sherlock: Use PAR/uPAR Data to Determine Who Needs Reading Accommodations

The popular fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes said,“it’s a capital mistake to theorize before you have the data.” Ben Johnston makes the same point when schools seek school success for struggling readers. He offers a solution for improving decisions whenever questions about providing reading accommodations seem more like a game of chance than a science. 

More on the Instructional Level and Challenging Text

Teacher question:
I’ve read your posts on the instructional level and complex texts and I don’t think you understand guided reading. The point of guided reading placements is to teach students with challenging text. That’s why it is so important to avoid texts that students can read at their independent level; to make sure they are challenged. The Common Core requires teaching students with challenging texts — not frustration level texts.

Shanahan response:

Report Cards and Standards

From a teacher:

I wanted to ask your opinion regarding the structure of report cards for parents of students in grades 3-5. Understanding that ELA CCSS intertwines the areas of reading, language, spelling, writing, and moving toward creating district standards-based report cards in all K-5 grade levels, how do you think students' progress should be reported out to parents via report cards, as we transition? Would you recommend having an ELA grade on the report card or segregating particular areas as a stand alone grade?

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"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." — May Ellen Chase