Chapter 4 of Gunning’s textbook is about placing and monitoring your students based on their reading level. One of the first sentences in this chapter talked about making sure they child has an appropriate challenge. My mind immediately jumped to the zone of proximal development. This concept says that we need to make sure our students are being challenged appropriately; the work is not too hard where they become frustrated, and it is not too easy where they are bored. The level of challenge is just right where they are at their full learning potential. This is where they learn the best and the most.
Shortly after, Gunning starts to talk about an informal reading inventory (IRI) which is an assessment that teachers use to determine a student’s reading level based on their performance when reading various word lists and passages. An analogy he used that I found very interesting was relating IRIs to trying on shoes. As a teacher, you want to make sure your child’s “shoe” or reading level is a perfect fit for them. You might have to try on some different pairs before you find just the right size. Teachers can use commercial inventories, as there are many different kinds for all sorts of different age groups. The book has a list of 14, but I’m sure there are more. A more affective type of assessment would be a curriculum-based assessment (CBA). In one of my other classes, our professor was talking about the importance of making sure your assessment aligns with instruction, or what you are teaching in class. It just makes sense that tis would be the most affective way to place the students and really know where they are at, especially if the information they are reading is familiar to them and something that they will be able to use throughout the year.
However, teachers don’t always have time to write their own assessments based on the curriculum, or fully assess the students based on the inventories. The inventories usually have students orally and silently read different passages, as both use different skills, but oftentimes teachers skip over the silent reading section. This can lead to a decrease in the validity and reliability of the assessment, which ultimately does not help the student at all. Teachers are very busy, and I am aware that I will have little time for myself when I am a teacher, but they really have to think about what is best for the students. Their goal should be the success of all students.