A Cleveland 1st-grader’s reading record

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The following is an example of the records that Union Elementary School in Cleveland, Ohio keeps on each of its primary-grade youngsters. It tracks “Joey” from the beginning of 1st grade, when he takes a reading readiness assessment, through October of the following school year.

Scores on test #1 are exceptionally low:

Letter identification, 20 out of 54 points.

Print concepts, six out of 20.

Sound identification, one out of 37.

Word recognition, zero out of 20.

He can write only one word in the assessment, his first name.

Action plan #1: Teachers place Joey in a small tutoring group and use his test scores to guide the lesson plan. It includes a daily review of the 20 letters that Joey knows and eight specific teaching strategies such as flash cards, sorting similar letters and writing letters in multiple media. At the end of the school year, he undergoes another assessment.

Scores on test #2 improve but remain low:

Letter identification, 42 out of 54 points.

Print concepts, 10 out of 20.

Sound identification, 4 out of 37.

Word recognition, zero out of 20.

Joey can now write seven words: his name, no, dog, cat, mom, dad and I.

Action plan #2: Teachers recommend Joey attend summer school, repeat 1st grade and receive extra reading and writing support during the next school year. Joey returns to 1st grade and takes the reading readiness assessment again.

Scores on test #3 are about the same:

Letter identification, 37 out of 54 points.

Print concepts, 12 out of 30.

Sound identification, 2 out of 37.

Word recognition, zero out of 20.

Joey can now write eight words. Teachers observe that his skills have not decreased over the summer, which they regard as a plus.

Action plan #3: Joey is again placed in the small reading group. Teachers begin keeping a daily chart that notes his academic work, attention span and behavior in class.

Conclusion: In October, Joey’s teacher notes he is “falling further behind” and that his “academics are extremely low for a repeater.” He is referred to the school’s Intervention-based Assessment Team, which includes both 1st-grade teachers, the principal and a psychologist. They meet with his mother to review his scores from kindergarten and 1st grade. They agree that he will continue in the small reading group. And the classroom teacher and mother will develop a behavior plan and reward system for completed homework.