It seems that we are given more to teach and more to assess with each new school year. We recently chatted with a new teacher who shared the disconnect she feels between the assessments we are asked to give, what we do in our classroom, and the growth we see in our students. She went on to say that it feels difficult to monitor growth—real growth. When asked what she meant by real growth she simply said, "You know, are they getting better at reading?" Ahh, out of the mouths of our young teachers, simple pearls of wisdom!
Monitoring the simple data of a student's independent, instructional, and frustrational reading level over the course of a year can be very powerful for students, parents and us as classroom teachers. There is no disconnect. We can see if our instruction is making a difference—and we can celebrate tangible growth!
Here is the form we use in our own classrooms to monitor this data. We keep it in our conferring notebook and record the span of the three reading levels for each child, three to four times each year when we give our assessments. We compare Instructional Reading Level with Instructional Reading Level periodically to find their months or years of growth.