Well...here is the reason for our shift. Guided Reading is out of the door because we guided students to look at the picture and make guesses. So we do not do GR anymore because poor readers make guesses. We are doing "differentiated" literacy instruction with the premise that we push phonics....(decoding, blending and nonsense words...which should enhance fluency if the kiddo can decode quickly in their head). So now we are being asked to express "descriptors" (Common Core...Big Ideas) and not reading levels to parents. Why? Well the thought is that not all Level D students are the same... so why level them?
So now what is going on is teachers are doing running records anyway...to get an even level of descriptors and making an attempt to avoid gut feelings. I am attaching what most districts are using for this reason. The thought is that every teacher in your grade level uses the same test/assessment to avoid "loosey-goosey" results. Now these do NOT have to be used b/c grade levels should "agree" on same assessment for uniform results.
Okay so we are not the researchers of the world who are making millions on their literacy programs. BUT we are experienced enough to know that the levels in Reading Street are loosey-goosey on the first grade level...what the claim is that it should not matter. At the same time, you need to know what to pull for the kiddo who can't practice decoding b/c on-level is too easy and advanced is too difficult.
What I would say is do a sight word assessment (you should do this anyway). Kiddos who can read 60 sight words are usually D-E, 80 F-G, 100 H-I, 120 J. Sight Words are a good assessment to do regardless because SW will effect fluency because those words "have" to be memorized.
Our running records from the Wright Group are worthless in the sense that they would not give you descriptors because most words in text are not decodable. What those RR are good for is for using our Wright Group books. The attached RR are good for determining you descriptors because they are decodable text.
Running Records were developed by Marie Clay with the purpose of analyzing miscue analysis or why the child is making errors (vowel sounds, does not know sight words, guesses, can't blend, etc.). The Wright Group took it one step further and said now you can get these levels. However when a parent takes a child to a book store, they use Lexile Levels but the issue becomes these levels do not exist for K-1 reading levels. So why does a parent need a level that means nothing to the library or book store? (Hey...not saying we are agreeing but this is the conflict).
This is a lot to take in and this is not the final say...this is just why we are going in this direction. Reading Street is a very comprehensive program and it has flaws...ALL programs will. What we have to do as teachers is look at these descriptors and determine "where" is this kiddo lacking? Is it fluency? Nonsense word, sight word phrases, books on tape, Dick and Jane or something with repeated text. Is it a sight word problem? Check out Heidi Songs for jingles, sight word games, sight word rings. Is it a phonics issue? letter sounds/blending games, word sliders, making words, letter chants, vowel practice, etc. With knowledge of these so called "descriptors" you can the info to know how to differentiate your instruction.
What I do not like as a teacher...is the fact that we are not showing parents with a "picture" how their child did/did not progress. Is there a way to do so? Should sight word count be used in a graph instead? Second what bothers me is this above, on or below level nonsense. Does Reading Street determine this or the teachers? What does Common Core say? Perhaps there needs to be a discussion on this. Maybe grade levels could select the same "cold" reads to determine what means below, on level or above and to go along with this the child needs a certain sight word score. This is something that should be tabled before report cards. All I can say is that grade level need "uniform" assessments because my gut feeling differs from yours and vice versa.
We are sharing this "drama" with you...our virtual friends because we want your comments/suggestions! How is your school leveling first graders who have the widest span of readers on-levels or 6 levels (Wright Group calls them E, F, G, H, I, J). We are struggling because our "on-level" books are too easy for some readers and then the "above level" are too difficult due to this wide span in first grade. What does "on-level" first grade text look like? What is your district doing? Is anyone using Reading Naturally to level? What do you think?
Here is the link to RS Running Records that can be used to get Descriptors: http://www.firstgradebrain.com/2011/07/scott-foresman-reading-street-running-records-unit-1-5-1st-grade.html
FYI: Descriptors are determined by analyzing miscues...so yes we will do a running record or cold read but NOT to get a level. Instead we will analyze miscues.
Based on Brain Research: "Google" Dr. Louisa Moats
Based on Brain Research: "Google" Dr. Louisa Moats