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What is the benchmarking assessment that my child takes?

Fountas & Pinnell have developed a Benchmarking Assessment System (BAS) in order to help teachers determine what reading skills your child has mastered and which she/he still needs to learn. In Ames, all K-5 students read aloud all or portions of a text and then engage in a comprehension conversation with the teacher to allow the teacher to better understand how to help the student in a variety of areas, including reading with accuracy and expression, and understanding the meaning of the text. This assessment is administered to all students twice per year.

Fountas & Pinnell have created a 3rd edition of the benchmarking materials which include revised rubrics, texts, teacher prompts, and online capabilities. ACSD purchased this 3rd edition for all elementary buildings as these improvements will allow teachers to more clearly target instruction with each student. Your child’s level may be lower than in the past as the 3rd edition materials are much more rigorous. This drop in levels has been predicted by the publisher and does not indicate that your child’s skills in reading have decreased.   

Why is there a new edition?

After hearing feedback from teachers across the country, Fountas & Pinnell updated several pieces of the assessment system we’ve been using to guide our reading instruction. After reviewing these new materials, ACSD teacher and administrators were excited to begin using the revised assessment materials. These updated assessment materials will allow teachers to become more aligned in our scoring and get better data to use to guide our instruction.

What’s new?

After examining the new materials, our teacher and administrators enthusiastically supported the revisions, which include:

  • New comprehension scoring rubrics which allow for more rigorous and consistent administration, analysis, and scoring.
  • New benchmark assessment books revised for factual information in nonfiction and other minor changes in both fiction and nonfiction to make the assessment more targeted.
  • New online resources to support professional learning community (PLC) conversations around data.

My child’s teacher told me she/he reads a level P text independently. What does that mean?

The level, or Text Level Gradient, refers to the difficulty of the books in relation to other books placed along a continuum from A–Z, easiest to hardest. This provides your child’s teacher with valuable insights into the skills your child has mastered and what she/he still needs to learn.

What does my child’s teacher do with his/her reading level?

At school, your child will have leveled instruction in a small group for a small part of the day, as it is one critical component of our literacy teaching for lifting your child’s competencies. The data gained from this standardized assessment helps your child’s teacher identify goals and plan instruction that supports your child’s reading progress across the school year.

Should I limit my child’s reading at home to her/his level?

No. When selecting books for enjoyment, your child can select from a wide range of books that appeal to her/his interests; they should not be primarily selected based on reading level. Your child’s teacher will use texts in your child’s instructional range to develop her/his reading skills; however, reading a wide variety of books is essential to her/his development as a reader. If you need more help selecting texts for your child to read at home, please reach out to your child’s teacher for more suggestions.

What are some ways I can help my child at home?

  1. Visit your local library together. Encourage your child to select books that interest and excite him/her.
  2. Read books to or with your child and talk about them together.
  3. Listen to your child read books and talk about them together.
  4. Most importantly, enjoy your time together reading, writing, and talking!

F&P Curriculum Update