RTI and Early Reading Assessment
EDU 741 Laura Meegan
RTI and Assessment: You Can't Have One without the Other
Afflerbach states, "A well-functioning RTI program is informed by effective assessment."
of rate and accuracy. These are all important aspects of reading, yet they do not
get us to the point of reading: to construct meaning" (2012, p. 126). We cannot assess simply for the sake of assessment, or simply to assess isolated skills in reading and place instructional emphasis on only those skills. "In best practice, assessment continually informs instruction" (2012, p. 143). DIBELS and OSELA are two assessments that provide different types of information about early readers. However, we must look at reading through a wide lens that includes both skills and a student's view of himself or herself as a reader. Further, Afflerbach believes we should consider all reading assessments "high stakes" (p. 126). The data they provide must be applicable. Otherwise, we must re-evaluate why we give these assessments in the first place.
Teacher Questioning as Assessment (Chapter 3)
The questions teachers ask must go beyond the literal and offer students an opportunity for higher-level, more complex thinking. Unfortunately, the cost of scoring high-stakes test questions can directly influence the types of questions that are asked. Machine-scored tests are easier and more affordable to score than constructed-response (or open response) questions that must be read and evaluated by human beings. "A result is that to the degree that there is teaching to the test, there is also teaching to low-level questions" (Afflerbach, 2012, p. 55). This limits the types of questions we might ask and thus may not reflect what our students have actually learned and understood.
It Is Not the Answer that Enlightens, but the Question
Afflerbach cautions about the level of teacher control involved in some questioning techniques. With IRE the teacher is the sole authority with regard to the correctness of a student's answer in response to a question the teacher chose to ask. If our goal is to encourage higher-level thinking, we may want to consider opportunities for discussion among our students that arise as a result of the types of questions we present to them. Afflerbach talks about planned and spontaneous questions in the classroom, as well as the importance of wait time and ensuring a student is able to comprehend the question that was asked. All of these must be given consideration when we question our students with the ultimate goal of assessing their learning. Afflerbach is clear, "We cannot be content with determining if a student's response to a question is correct or incorrect. We must uncover the student thinking that led to the response to the question" (p. 64).
Afflerbach, P. (2012). Understanding and using reading assessment k-12. (2nd ed.). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.