leveled books

F&P Benchmark Assessment System: Doesn’t look right, sound right, or make sense

My district, like so many others, uses Fountas and Pinnell’s Benchmark Assessment System (BAS) as the primary measure of student reading progress. But if you’ve had doubts about the assessment and the ways BAS data is often used, you’re on to something… Limited Materials An F&P Benchmark Assessment System kit provides us with only two books (one fiction and one nonfiction) for each reading level, so we end up using

It’s Not Enough to Know Better

Just as the school year began, Natalie Wexler’s Knowledge Gap and Emily Hanford’s At a Loss for Words shook the ground under Balanced Literacy. Optimists might assume that classroom instruction will be transformed as a result of these powerful publications, but if a teacher in my district heard the research and wanted to change her practice, she’d face a series of barriers.  Barrier: Formal Evaluation The school year began with

What F&P Have “Clarified” and What They Haven’t

The Fountas and Pinnell leveling system is designed to help teachers match students with books they can read. Period. Whether or not it actually does that will be covered in the next blog, but first… Districts across the country use Fountas and Pinnell materials in ways contrary to the creators’ intent, which is a problem separate from the materials themselves. “It is our belief that levels have no place in

Phonics Instruction: Helps All, Harms None

The Wait and See Approach: While some students crack the alphabetic code with minimal or even no instruction, others require systematic phonics reinforced by decodable texts to become skilled readers. The catch is that when students enter school, we don’t know for whom code-based instruction will be essential. We can wait and find out, and in fact, we do this so often that the approach has a name, “wait to

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