Phone: (585) 786-8000 ext. 1334/1134
Degrees and Certifications:
Principal Kim Monahan
Encouraging, Not Labeling, Young Readers
Perhaps, over the years, you have had the pleasure of getting lost in a good book. If you have - you may remember devouring the words in front of you, eyes scanning from top to bottom and your hand turning pages, rapid fire, as vivid pictures form in your head, telling the story in only a way that you can imagine. (The real beauty of reading a book!)
That above and beyond all else, is our goal for each and every child. That they learn to read, learn to read well and look forward to each opportunity to have a story unfold or new information fill their brain.
That said - schools use various assessments, tools and scales to help measure student growth in reading. Currently, Warsaw Elementary School utilizes Fountas and Pinnell levels, an A-Z scale. Naturally, this scale is segmented into smaller chunks, with specific letters associated with grade level progress. For many years, student levels have been reported out on quarterly report cards. Student progress has been reported out in a manner which enables families to compare their child’s progress with a benchmark measure.
As we continue to focus on quality reading instruction and student growth in this area, we have had the opportunity to research a bit more about the practical use of reading levels when it comes to encouraging young readers. Quite frankly - what we have long known, but recently revisited, is the idea that when it comes to developing good readers, our students are so much more than a letter of the alphabet.
In fact, Fountas and Pinnell themselves share that, “Trying to climb the level ladder is not what reading is all about. Students should not use levels to compare themselves with others, rather young readers are grown in a classroom community where each student is respected, has a sense of agency, values collaboration over competition; and grows up seeing themselves as literate.” Students develop their own literacy skills by choosing books that interest and engage them, and the growth of young readers can be documented by a variety of reading behaviors - behaviors that go above and beyond moving from letter to letter through the alphabet scale.
With that in mind, you will notice some changes on our quarterly report cards. Beginning with the first report card in November 2018, Reading levels (A-Z) will no longer be reported. Rather, we will continue to use our number scale (1-4) to indicate whether students are below, approaching, meeting, or exceeding grade level reading expectations. You may also notice a change in some of the report card descriptors that more accurately capture the foundational behaviors of a reader. Perhaps more important than the number scale itself, will be the follow up conversations that occur at Parent/Teacher Conferences to follow the first report card. We look forward to the in-depth conversations with families which provide each teacher the opportunity to share the observable behaviors that each child is currently exhibiting, as well as address next steps in growing readers step-by-step throughout the school year.
As we have the last few years, report cards will be distributed the Friday before Parent Teacher Conferences (11/16/18). Please take time to review this 10-week report for your child, paying more attention to comments than numbers. Prepare questions for your child’s teacher and don’t hesitate to dive into a conversation about who they really are as a learner. As sure as I am of the alphabet from A to Z, I am even more confident that what teachers use as a tool to support and guide instruction - should never be a label for our kids.