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Placement Assessment for Small-group Reading

Last Updated: Dec 22, 2016 09:34AM PST
How are students placed in small groups?
For Sets 1–5, there is a simple-to-administer placement assessment (decoding, sight words, sound-spelling patterns), which can be found in the Assessment Resource Book or on the CCC ClassView app.

For Sets 6–12, teachers should use the leveling assessments they already have in place. See the Being a Reader Assessment Resource Book “Small-group Reading Assessments” section on pages xi-xv for information about placing students in Sets 6–12 based on several leveling systems.

Why do students need to know 21 letters before they are placed in small-group reading groups? 
Knowledge of letter names is broadly indicative of reading readiness. In addition, our analysis of SIPPS (Systematic Instruction in Phonological Awareness, Phonics, and Sight Words) data over the past decade indicates that students who know 21 letter names are better equipped to engage in the foundational skills work as it gets increasingly complex.
In both the Being and Reader and SIPPS programs, high-frequency words are taught using the “whole word” methodology (Durkin, Teaching Them to Read, 1993). This methodology requires students to spell high-frequency words, which demands knowledge of letter names.

What guidance can you give for administering a placement assessment for Sets 1-5?
When administering the placement assessment, the teacher should present the student card and simply ask the student to read the words (or say the sounds the letters stand for in the first section). You might indicate which words are sound-out and which are sight words, but beyond that give minimal support and refrain from indicating whether the student has made an error. You might use language such as:

“I am going to ask you to read some words. This will help me put you into a reading group.”
"Say the sounds these letters stand for."
"Please, read these words ."
“These are high-frequency words. Read across the row.”

What do I do when a student passes the decoding portion of a section but does not pass the high-frequency words for Sets 1-5?
The placement assessment addresses both phonics/decoding and high-frequency word knowledge. The high-frequency words are needed to read the small-group books across the sets.
When a student passes the spelling-sound/decoding portion of a section but does not pass the high-frequency words, continue assessing with the next section.  Once the student does not pass the spelling-sound/decoding portion of a section, stop.  Place the students based on spelling-sound/decoding, notate the unknown high frequency words.  When teaching the lessons, introduce the unknown high frequency words and include those words in the on-going review.  This introduction/review process is important because the high frequency words are needed to access the texts.
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