Literacy Testing in Junior High School...Erica Bexte & Chantal Beazer
How Can Fountas and Pinnell Testing Assist in Correlating Literacy Levels with Star Reader to Achieve a Long-term Goal of increased Literacy Rates at Cardston Junior High School?
Since Cardston Junior High School and the Westwind School District has a huge literacy focus, we wanted to help increase literacy in our school. CJHS frequently completes STAR Reader tests with students, and wanted to begin another testing method, Fountas and Pinnell. We wanted to know how data gained from both of these reading tests could assist our school in increasing student literacy rates.
For our project, we began testing students in the school using the F&P system, and then correlating that data with the results from the previous STAR Reader tests. Although we did not finish testing each student in the school, we were able to complete the test with most of the lowest readers, who needed the most assistance and intervention. We initially had to attend a short training course about the Fountas and Pinnell system, and acquire the box full of levelled books and resources. We began testing students for their instructional and independent reading levels according to F&P, using the instructions for specific resources that test for accuracy, fluency, and comprehension. We recorded the results into a spreadsheet, and then correlated this data with their STAR Reader results. Throughout the process we also maintained a log, documenting any challenges we encountered or findings we had. We discovered that the testing was a lot more time-consuming that we had first anticipated, which was a big setback for us. Once we got into the routine, however, we were able to test many of the students who most needed intervention.
Providing another set of reading level data can be very beneficial to the future of CJHS and its students. In some cases, we found discrepancies between the two tests, as contextual or environmental factors may have skewed the data or communicated an inaccurate score. An additional set of data can provide a more accurate representation of literacy levels, and provide opportunities for teachers to hone in on particular strategies to help struggling readers. The data we collected will be passed onto the administration and teachers at our school to be used as a guide for future instruction. We hope that our initial work with Fountas and Pinnell will help Cardston Junior High move forward with continued literacy support. In terms of our own learning, we found it very beneficial to learn this complex testing system, as it is a popular literacy test in local school districts. We also learned that we must be flexible in our assessments and provide multiple opportunities for students to prove their learning, as environmental factors can lead to an inaccurate representation of knowledge.
Erica is a Native Education major with a Social Studies minor. She completed her PS III at Cardston Junior High School teaching Grade 7 Social Studies. She grew up in Arrowwood, AB and hopes to get a job in a rural school once she graduates in April.
Chantal is a Native Education major with a Spanish minor. She also completed her PS III at CJHS teaching Grade 6 Language Arts. She grew up in Cardston, and hopes to get a job somewhere in southern Alberta when she graduates in April as well.