A single classroom typically includes students at a wide-range of reading stages. Consequently, teachers need to determine which students to put together in small groups and how to differentiate the instruction. To accomplish this, teachers administer numerous reading assessments. However, many lack a user-friendly way to compile the data to inform their decisions.
Follow the seven simple steps below to compile student data, determine which group they should participate in, and what instruction they need.
1. Download and print the Reading Data Tracker for raw scores or reading behaviors.
2. List student names in the left column and assessments (sources of data) across the top.
3. Collect data during the first weeks of school. Add it to this Reading Data Tracker.
Remember, it takes multiple weeks to administer a variety of assessments in testing periods, therefore, this data tracker will not be filled out in one school day. Plan to add data per column as assessments are completed.
CLARIFICATION: “e;Teacher Thoughts”e; are based on observations. As the student reads aloud a short passage one-on-one with the teacher, note any reading strategies/skills the student utilized or neglected. This may include strategies such as monitoring comprehension by cross-checking, reading in phrases for fluency, and/or attending to words visually with phonics principles. These observations of reader behavior are a vital form of qualitative data.
4. Highlight the “e;at-risk”e; scores per column/per assessment.
Analyze each column of data. Note any score below average for that particular time of year. Highlight those below-average scores per assessment. TIP: Utilize a different highlighter to indicate the reading component that is low according to that assessment–comprehension, fluency, or accuracy.
5. Cut apart each row of student information on the Reading Data Tracker. Once all the assessments are completed for this time of year and the data has been added to the tracker, then cut apart the rows and move around each student’s data to look at it for specific needs.
6. Arrange students from highest to lowest per assessment.
Organize each assessment or reading component one-by-one in order from highest to lowest. For example: Arrange high-to-low scores first for phoneme-segmentation skills. Then, make additional adjustments based on text levels. Make final changes based on weaknesses in high-frequency words and sounds heard when writing words.
This is a process. Each student will be moved around several times by the different reading components. The key is to look for patterns of behaviors among your students. Often times, the struggling readers will have multiple highlights from almost every assessment given. Each time the rows are rearranged by the next assessment or reading component look for outliers–those who fall much higher or much lower on one assessment versus another. Note students who have similar reading behaviors that might be grouped together for targeted instruction.
7. Determine the group types you will assemble–groups by level and/or by strategy/skill.
Many K-2 teachers naturally group students by level because the needs of a Level D reader would be much different than the needs of a Level H reader. However, in the intermediate grades reading levels change less drastically, and therefore, groups tend to be assembled more often by strategy. Students who need to work on comprehending the text and remembering what they read have different needs than those with decoding and accuracy issues. Choose the areas of weakness to target within the small-group instruction.
Repeat this seven-step process as assessments are re-administered throughout the year. Small-groups are flexible and should be adjusted several times based on the new data collected. The power in the Reading Data Tracker is that it captures all the student information within a single document. This allows teachers to make truly informed decisions about differentiated instruction.
Great Teacher Comments:
Sarah Dickerson, a teacher at Warren Central Elementary School (West Lebanon, IN), asked Kristi McCullough for more information regarding what was assessed in two of the categories (Writing Vocab and Hearing Sounds) included on the sample Reading Data Tracker. Here’s Kristi’s response.