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Topics surrounding general assessment and the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment Systems.

Why do we need to find 3 levels? Messages in this topic - RSS

GenevieveA
GenevieveA
Posts: 1


10/16/2020
GenevieveA
GenevieveA
Posts: 1
I am an English coordinator and I have introduced F&P BAS this year at my school. Previously, staff would find one instructional level for students and then benchmarking was complete. It was assumed that the students independent level was one level below.
We are currently trying to work together to change our processes, however there is a lack of agreement as to why teachers need to find students' independent level as well (I haven't mentioned testing to find their hard level yet). The argument is that the independent level should be the level below the instructional level.
Can you please help me to explain why it is necessary to test students until you find their true independent and instructional levels and not assume the independent level?
Thank you.
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Helenann Steensen, Fountas & Pinnell Consultant
Helenann Steensen, Fountas & Pinnell Consultant
Posts: 914


10/16/2020
GenevieveA wrote:
I am an English coordinator and I have introduced F&P BAS this year at my school. Previously, staff would find one instructional level for students and then benchmarking was complete. It was assumed that the students independent level was one level below.
We are currently trying to work together to change our processes, however there is a lack of agreement as to why teachers need to find students' independent level as well (I haven't mentioned testing to find their hard level yet). The argument is that the independent level should be the level below the instructional level.
Can you please help me to explain why it is necessary to test students until you find their true independent and instructional levels and not assume the independent level?
Thank you.


Hi GenevieveA
My ‘go to’ is always based on what Fountas and Pinnell have stated since their statements are based on research findings over several years. This gives me the ‘facts’ on which I can base my conversations and explanations with others. So, let me start where I would take teachers....
Please refer to Section 2 (page 16 of edition 3) of the BAS Guide. It states:
“You will always have the child read at least three texts as you determine his independent, instructional, and hard levels... If you have recorded an easy (or independent) level text for the reader, then continue the assessment with increasingly more difficult books (higher levels). .... A text can be read with high accuracy but be “hard” if comprehension is insufficient.. Then you can make a decision about the recommended placement level—the best level for instructional reading.”

What we want and what is easiest for instruction is a neat ‘hamburger type’ model with levels neatly falling in order, such as Level C independent, Level D instructional and Level E hard! We can never assume that this model is the case for all students. In my own experience, when assessing, I have found that some children may be instructional at many levels! This is a strong indication that there are gaps in the strategic action behaviors that need to be explicitly taught. These gaps can interfere with instruction and advancement to the next level. We then might find children lagging unexplainably behind others and find ourselves working harder to ‘push’ them through the levels. This information is only discovered by assessing for all three levels. It takes more time, but the ‘payoff’ for appropriate instruction is huge.

The next place I would take teachers to is Section 3: beginning on page 43: which further discusses the importance of Finding Three Levels, how to find the Recommended Placement Level and the importance of Looking Beyond the Numbers.... “The Recommended Placement level is the level you decide is most appropriate for reading instruction. It reflects your thinking about all of the data gathered during the assessment. Most of the time, the placement level is the same as the instructional level, but sometimes a look at the reading behaviors and the specific data leads you to a different decision.”

I hope this helps as you discuss your assessment goals and process to reach those goals!
Best Wishes,
Helenann

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Helenann Steensen, Official Fountas & Pinnell Consultant, Heinemann
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