assessment · authentic assessment · quote · reading · reading workshop · writing workshop

NCTE: Reading Assessment.

While at NCTE, I listened to Patrick Allen, Franki Sibberson, and colleagues discuss reading assessment.  Here are some highlights:

  1. One assessment isn’t better than another and none can stand alone.  We need a variety.
  2. Look at the routines of reading workshop and figure out how to assess those routines.
  3. I should ask myself:  What does the way I assess do to my students’ performance?  Now this is a powerful, thought-provoking question that deserves its own post!  Then followed by this poignant question:  How many kids are quitting because of our assessment?  Yikes!
  4. Our assessment should be dual-purposed.  It should help us as teachers, but also help our students.  More questions to ask of myself:  How do I know my students are getting better?  More importantly how do my students know they’re getting better?  If they aren’t getting better, then what am I going to do to help them improve?
  5. This P. Drucker quote:  “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently what shouldn’t be done at all.”
  6. To truly focus on assessment, then conferring should be brought back to the heart of workshop.
  7. Conferring:  a.) mirrors rich conversations; b.) shepherds developing readers & writers; c.) provides an authentic context for ongoing assessment and responsive teaching.
  8. This Bev Bos quote:  “What children take home in their head and heart is much more important than what they take home in their hands.”
  9. Another quote, but I didn’t catch the credit: “Expert teaching invites students to act with initiative and intention in shaping what happens to them throughout the day.”
  10. It’s a big problem if the ways we’re assessing are for the single purpose of accountability.  Our assessment should be for a bigger purpose — like helping kids become better readers and writers!

3 thoughts on “NCTE: Reading Assessment.

  1. I too attended the same session at the NCTE as you, Ruth. I was so glad that I chose to hear them speak. My new Head is asking for some formal assessment so I (we) can truely know that my readers are improving. I needed to hear yes, I was on the right track with conferring. I, though, need more focus when conferring. And I am still not share that formal assessment is the avenue I want to follow. I will love to hear your thoughts on those two questions you proposed… “How do I know my students are getting better? More importantly how do my students know they’re getting better?” Meanwhile, I will keep reading and my students will keep reading and writing about their reading.


  2. What a great list! You and Stacey are such good note takers– I’ve benefited so much from the presentations you’ve attended (and given!). Thanks. In my classroom, planning boxes double as good little assessments. They remind me what I’m looking for and are a result of rich informal assessment (conference) with the writer. Your notes underscore what I believe: there is a huge difference between institutional assessment (institutional accountability) and instructional assessment. Both are a reality in my life, but I need to stay clear on the difference in my own teaching and planning. Test Talk by Amy H. Greene and Glennon Doyle Melton was a helpful book on integrating standardized test preparation into the Reading Workshop without idolizing it or letting it obstruct good teaching.


  3. I’ve struggled with assessments. I teach “Critical Reading and Writing” at JMU and I have a lot of leeway as to how I assess my students’ performance. I’ve found that the best way (though not perfect by any means) is to somehow give them some control over how they are assessed. I do the pieces of a grading rubric to which they attach number values that equal 100 (for example, 20 points for a clear thesis, 10 points for proper grammar, etc.). This allows them to see the areas I think are most important and it also allows me to see where they may need extra attention during the semester.

    It really gets interesting when they grade themselves using the numbers they assigned, and seeing how hard they are on themselves.


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