Reading inventory shows SSISD students on track
100 percent of Lamar Elementary second graders at recommended level by end of the year
By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor
June 22, 2008 - How well do your first and second graders read? Are there techniques they need a little extra help to master?
At least twice a year, teachers across the state are required to administer tests designed to answer those questions. The Texas Primary Reading Inventory is administered at the beginning and end of the school year to first and second graders to see just how they're doing, how much progress they've made, if they're reaching targeted goals and if they read as fluently as they should.
"It's a diagnostic [tool] where we evaluate their skills and individuals and figure out what they need to work on, who to pull out in small groups for help, things like that," said Connie Mabe, Sulphur Springs Independent School District director of elementary education, who recently presented overall TPRI results to school trustees.
Each test is divided into three parts, phonemic awareness, graphophonemic knowledge and reading comprehension. Phonemic awareness checks how well the student blends word parts and detects initial and final sounds. Graphophonemic knowledge includes initial and final consonant substitution, middle vowel substitution, initial blending substitution and blending in final position. Reading comprehension gauges reading accuracy levels or rate of fluency, and handling of explicit and implicit questions.
Any student rated as "still developing" on any of the three skills areas at the beginning of the school year received accelerated reading intervention with literacy support teachers.
While it may seem redundant to test both at the beginning and end of the school year, there's a definite benefit. Not only does it show current results for new students for whom no data may be available, but it also shows how well the material was maintained over the summer, or if student's reading skills regressed.
According to the data, first graders (not including bilingual students) showed significant gains in reading levels. When the 2007-2008 school year began, only 143 of the 268 first graders tested were "reading at instructional or independent level." At the end of the school year, 255 of the 268 first graders tested had met the mark.
The majority of SSISD second graders -- 240 of the 264 tested -- were already reading at or above a second grade level when the year began. At the end of the year, 245 of the 253 tested (some moved out of the district) were reading at the targeted level.
Lamar Elementary School's second graders and their teachers should be applauded -- all students tested were reading at the recommended level at the end of the year. It was the only SSISD campus to reach 100 percent.
Bilingual students also showed good progress. At the beginning of the year, only 11 of the 47 bilingual first graders tested on both the English and Spanish reading exams were "reading at instructional or independent level." By the end of the year, 36 of the 46 bilingual first graders tested were reading at the recommended level.
Bilingual second graders did a bit better at the beginning of the school year, with 24 of the 36 students (67 percent) taking both tests meeting expectations. At year's end, 31 of the 39 bilingual second graders (80 percent) tested had met the recommended standards.
Other data show SSISD first graders did better at meeting fluency standards than second graders. Overall, 117 of the 268 first graders tested were able to read 60 or more words per minute by the end of the school year. Only 67 of the 253 second graders tested were able to read 90 or more words fluently per minute.
"Fluently" is an important consideration, because there's more focus on comprehending groups of words -- sentence, paragraphs, etc. -- for second graders, Mabe said. In essence, second graders in the spring are introduced to harder stories with more difficult questions.
"The stories have more difficulty," Mabe noted. "It helps with their level of comprehension if what they are reading is not broken down into individual words and pieces of words, or fragments, instead of whole sentences."
The scores help determine which students need more instruction in summer school.
"A lot digress in the summer," Mabe said. "Maybe they don't pick up books to read. This will help them."
The curriculum is designed to begin preparing the students for the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test they will be required to take during spring of following year as third graders.
At the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year, third grade teachers will look at the data for each second grader and conduct another student assessment to decide which students need additional help from reading intervention teachers.