As a teacher, you understand the importance of helping your students develop their reading comprehension skills. But how do you know if they truly understand what they’re reading? Formative assessments are invaluable for helping teachers gauge student progress and optimize their reading comprehension. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with the data you collect. Want to know more about using formative assessment data in your classroom? Keep reading!
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What are Formative Assessments?
Teachers use formative assessments to measure student learning and understanding throughout the course of their instruction. Unlike summative assessments, which evaluate student performance at the end of a unit or term, formative assessments (exit tickets) allow teachers to make adjustments to their teaching methods as needed to ensure that students understand the material. If used often and correctly, formative assessment data can provide insight into areas where students need extra help or support.
How to Get Useful Data from Formative Assessments
Gathering data is essential, but you need to ensure it is data you can use. Here are my rules for formative assessments:
- No more than 1 – 2 questions: If you use more than 1 – 2 questions, the data is overwhelming, and you probably won’t use all of it.
- Questions must be standards or skills-focused.
- Questions must be open-ended (no multiple choice): You can’t assess students’ thinking from multiple choice questions.
- In-the-moment data collection: If you want to meet the needs of students, you have to collect and use the data right away.
Using Data from Reading Comprehension Formative Assessments
Once you have collected the data from your formative assessment, it’s time to put it to use! The most effective way to use formative assessment data is by breaking it down into smaller chunks and looking for patterns in student performance. This will help you identify areas where students may need extra support or areas where they have mastered the material. By breaking down the data like this, you can pinpoint exactly which skills each student needs help with and tailor your instruction accordingly.
How to Chunk Data from Formative Assessments
This is a quick and fairly easy way to sort the data you collect from formative assessments. Make 4 post-its with these categories. Decide what the correct answer should contain, then quickly read over the student answers and sort them into these groups. This usually takes just a few minutes.
- Surpasses the standard or skill: they give the correct answer and then some. They may also add inferences or further explanations.
- Achieves the standard or skill: Their answer matches your expected correct answer.
- Almost achieves the standard or skill: They get part of the answer correct.
- Below the standard or skill: They don’t answer the question or seem to understand what it is asking.
How to Analyze the Data
For each group, the analysis is as follows:
- This group truly understands the concept. They are ready to move on to new skills or more in-depth reading comprehension activities.
- This group gets it. They don’t need to review this standard or skill.
- This group is almost there. One mini-lesson could help them get to level 2.
- This group needs the most intervention, and you could plan several mini-lessons or one-on-one time with you.
Plan Instruction Using the Data
With this data, you can confidently create tailored instructional plans to precisely meet the needs of your students – no longer will they be stuck at a one-size-fits all pace. Additionally, it gives teachers insight into who has acquired mastery over a particular standard or skill in order for them to move onto more advanced topics.
Differentiating instruction is an excellent way to ensure that all students get access to the help they need. While it may be tempting for teachers to review with the whole class, this isn’t always necessary; only those who require further support should receive extra assistance while their classmates continue onward toward mastering new standards and skills. On the other hand, if most students are still falling short of a particular objective after initial instruction, re-teaching or revising your approach likely becomes essential for them to acquire understanding.
Formative Assessment Outcomes
If you are looking for effective ways to differentiate instruction for your students, this method is it. Teach your core instruction on reading skills and use interventions to target students who truly need it. Accelerate instruction for students who are ready to do more.
As you plan your reading instruction, build formative assessments into your plans so that you can support students at the levels they need. Remember, formative assessments can be just one really targeted question. Choose a question that will assess the standard or skill you are teaching.
Here are some examples of open-ended questions that target specific reading skills:
Formative assessments are an invaluable tool for tracking student progress and optimizing reading comprehension outcomes in the classroom. Using data from reading comprehension formative assessments, you can quickly identify areas of weakness and tailor instruction accordingly. Using this quick and easy method for analyzing that data – you can help your students master the reading standards and skills!
Here are some reading resources you can use for instruction and formative assessments:
The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives.Robert John Meehan
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