Assessing Reading Comprehension

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As part of the reading curriculum, there are comprehension tests at the end of each story and a benchmark test at the end of each unit.  These tests ask questions about comprehension, phonics, high frequency words, and vocabulary.


At the beginning of the school year, we completed these tests as a whole class to introduce the students to the tests.  This was really their first experience taking a test, coming from Kindergarten, so we modeled reading each story and question, going back into the story if you don’t know an answer, and marking an answer.


Recently, we have started taking these same tests on the computer.  Students work independently, and we encourage and remind them to take their time; fortunately, the students can listen to the questions and answer choices.


After a few times, the students are completing these tests independently.  They try their best and overall do a great job.  I help monitor and also sit by certain students to provide encouragement and remind them to read before just clicking.  While I am amazed at the students’ progress and demonstration of their understanding, I also wonder if this is the best form of assessment.  We view these as practice and a check of their understanding, rather than counting them for a grade; if students don’t score well, we will go over those specific questions.  The teachers also view these as practice for MAP testing, and eventually PARCC, to give the students practice taking a test on the computer.  I know these tests are “easy” for teachers and the computer grades it for you; and there’s always the “time excuse”-there’s no time to do anything fun with everything needed to fit into a day.


I’m just observing, thinking, and evaluating…what are your thoughts?  What other forms of assessment have you used for reading comprehension?  Are they more constructive and meaningful?

Let’s Sequence a Story!

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Reading and comprehension are two of the most important skills taught in school.  Students need to read in every subject, and they need to learn different tools to check and demonstrate their understanding.  Sometimes, activities need to be consistent to continue practicing the same skill.

I’ve learned that sometimes, especially with struggling readers, activities need to be changed often to make reading fun.  When these students practice the same thing over and over, they get bored and frustrated; these are the readers we need to motivate the most to keep trying and read!

Often during small reading groups, I’ll play games with fluency, do different activities reading words and sentences, or have them create a journal or mini-project.  They need to do something engaging to see reading can be fun!  Currently, I’m working with a group of second graders on different comprehension strategies as part of an after-school tutoring program.  Everyday, we read a story and answer questions focusing on a different strategy.  To end our unit on sequencing, I decided to do something different.  Students picked one of the stories from the book and sequenced the order of events.  They wrote each step of the sequence on a notecard and then had to illustrate a picture.  Finally, they glued the cards on a strip to show the sequence of events.

The kids really enjoyed this activity; it was fun and different than what they normally do in school.  Also, since they were applying the sequencing skill to an actual activity, they truly demonstrated their understanding of the skill.  Usually, students read and discuss the ideas or strategy, but that doesn’t always mean students can apply the skill, especially with struggling readers.  When students can apply their learning and do something different, they make connections and are more likely to remember concepts.  This motivates readers to keep reading, which is our goal-to create life-long readers and learners!

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