Elementary Literacy Assessments
The Literacy program utilizes an assessment battery for pre-testing and post-testing of students. Some assessments are required under state law, other assessments are district required or are district recommended, but optional. Pre-testing information provides insights into starting points for teaching and learning for all students and forms the basis of all teaching decisions – for individuals, groups, and whole class. The post-testing information helps teachers assess whether instruction has resulted in students meeting targeted outcomes. The required and optional assessments are listed below:
The Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS)
(Screener and Diagnostic Test Required)
The Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) provides a comprehensive assessment of young children’s knowledge of the important literacy fundamentals that are predictive of future reading success PALS-K (for kindergartners) and PALS 1-3 (for students in Grades 1-3). PALS is the approved assessment used in APS for the purposes of the Colorado Reading to Ensure Academic Development Act (Colorado READ Act) for all students in grades K-3 and a district required assessment for all students in grades 4 and 5 who are identified with a Specific Reading Deficiency and are currently on a READ plan. Students in grade 4 and 5 will be monitored until such time as they reach grade level proficiency in reading as determined by a body of evidence. The PALS assessment is designed to identify students in need of additional reading instruction beyond that provided to typically developing readers.
Benchmark Assessment System (BAS) Reading Level Test
(Grades K-5- Required)
The Benchmark Assessment System by Fountas and Pinnell (BAS) is a district required assessment used to observe and code the reading behavior through Oral Reading, (part 1) and a Comprehension Conversation, (part 2) and an optional Writing About Reading prompt for responding to the text (part 3). The BAS is a reading inventory that allows teachers to gather immediate data on students. This data can then be analyzed to guide instruction in a way that is more beneficial than many other assessments students take. Schools will use the BAS multiple times throughout the year to monitor student progress. The results will also allow teachers to identify needs/strengths for groups of students for differentiating instruction, and can be used for writing goals and objectives for individual plans (Read Plans, MTSS Plans, IEP, AGATE, etc.).
PALS also informs teachers’ instruction by providing them with explicit information about their students’ knowledge of literacy fundamentals. Mid-year assessment and PALS Quick Checks allow for ongoing student progress monitoring throughout the year. Students’ scores on specific tasks are added together to create a summed score. This summed score is compared against minimum expectations for fall and for spring. If a student’s summed score is below the benchmark, it is recommended that the student receive small-group instruction in addition to the regular classroom literacy instruction. The results will allow teachers to identify needs/strengths for groups of students for differentiating instruction, and can be used for writing goals and objectives for individual plans (READ Plans, IEP’s, AGATE, etc.).
Writing Pathways: Performance Assessment and Learning Progressions
(Writing on Demand-Optional)
This optional district approved performance assessment system (developed by Lucy Calkins) offers instructional tools to support continuous assessment, timely feedback, and clear goals tied to Common Core-aligned learning progressions.
Ideal for writing workshop, but suitable for any writing instruction context, this practical guide includes:
- Learning progressions
- On-demand writing prompts
- Student checklists
- Student writing samples
- Exemplar pieces of writing
The results will allow teachers to identify needs/strengths for groups of students for differentiating instruction, and can be used for writing goals and objectives for individual plans (Read Plans, MTSS Plans, IEP, AGATE, etc.).
Developmental Spelling Inventory
(Words Their Way-Optional)
Words Their Way (WTW) is an approach to spelling and word knowledge that is based on extensive research literature and includes stages of development and instructional levels that are critical to the way students learn to read. This is a district approved but optional assessment. It complements the use of phonics, spelling, and vocabulary instruction that are often used in schools. Specifically, Words Their Way supports the CCSS’s Reading Foundational Skills and Language Standards in Grades K–5. The depth and breadth of word knowledge developed through the Words Their Way approach to word study also supports the Common Core’s emphasis on students’ reading more complex literary and informational texts. Included in the WTW approach is a set of three inventories that assess student ability in key areas. These three inventories include the Primary Spelling Inventory, the Elementary Spelling Inventory, and the Upper Level Spelling Inventory. The results will allow teachers to identify needs/strengths for groups of students for differentiating instruction, and can be used for writing goals and objectives for individual plans (Read Plans, MTSS Plans, IEP, AGATE, etc.).