Collaborative Circle Blog

Friends, Don’t Rush the Being a Reader Placement Assessment!

Let’s all take a deep breath and consider the purpose of the placement assessment for Being a Reader small-group instruction. Simply put, the assessment is used to place students at their instructional point of need within Being a Reader Small-group Reading.

Three Compelling Reasons Not to Rush

1. Foundation-setting Lessons for Independent Work

It is crucial to take the time to set a strong foundation for independent work in the first few weeks of school.  During the foundation-setting lessons, you introduce independent work and the students talk about why reading and writing independently is important to their growth.

The dual goals of setting the foundation for Independent Work are to establish the structures so that: 1) students have the opportunities to take responsibility for their own learning and behavior and 2) the teacher is able to give full attention to the students in small-group reading instruction.

While teaching the whole-class foundation lessons, it is important to monitor the way the students are incorporating independent work habits and to adjust your instruction if needed.  Instruction should be repeated or the pace slowed depending on the needs of your particular class. Some classes may take longer to establish independent work rotations.  We recommend 6-8 weeks in Kindergarten and 4-6 weeks in grades 1 and 2.

For more information, see the discussion of Independent Work in the grade-level Teacher’s Manual beginning on page xxvii.

2.  Shared Reading in Kindergarten and Grade 1

In the Being a Reader program, Shared Reading is a collaborative literacy activity in which you read and reread carefully selected enlarged texts (big books and poems) with the whole class. Shared Reading offers a supportive context for young learners to develop a delight in reading and an understanding of their ability to interact with books and print.

In Kindergarten, the early weeks of Shared Reading model effective reading behaviors and strategies. Consistently inviting the students to be involved in reading and attending to print supports the type of instruction provided in small-group reading.  Additionally, 11 high-frequency words that are used in the Small-group Reading books in Set 1 are taught in the first eight weeks of instruction.

In Grade 1, the early weeks of Shared Reading provide the opportunity to reactivate learning from the previous year. Waiting to assess these students results in more accurate placement in small groups.

For more information, see the discussion of Shared Reading in the grade-level Teacher’s Manual beginning on page xxvi.

3.  Word Study in Grade 2

Word Study lessons in the Being a Reader program focus on developing strategies needed to decode polysyllabic words. Word Study addresses decoding, high-frequency words, and vocabulary through interactive instruction.

The first eight weeks of Word Study lessons are devoted to reviewing and solidifying complex-vowel spelling patterns. The review provides the students with the opportunity to reactivate learning from the previous year. Waiting to assess these students results in more accurate placement in small groups.

For more information, see the discussion of Word Study in the Grade 2 Teacher’s Manual beginning on page xxvi.

In Conclusion: Don’t Rush!

For most effective placement, give the Being a Reader placement assessment as close as possible to the week you will begin small-group instruction. We recommend one week before. There’s so much to be gained by allowing time for foundation-setting, reclaiming lost ground after the summer break, and building vocabulary before you assess students for small-group reading.

For grade-level specific information, see the Administering Placement Assessments section beginning on page pg. xi in the Being a Reader Assessment Resource Book.

For a comprehensive scope and sequence for Being a Reader Sets 1-5, click here.