Two week’s ago, district K-2 teachers received a day of professional development led by Jan Richardson. I sent two tweets that morning:
1. What do you value in reading, @Unit4Schools?
2. Jan Richardson: It is not about a number, but about what a child needs.
I get why we are looking into different programs and at different assessment tools. As a district, we aren’t seeing the results that we need. I am open to having this conversation. I am, however, very leery about practices and programs that may do more harm than good. The practice of using AIMS web to not only benchmark, but provide weekly progress monitor seems just steps away from detrimental actions. Susan Dougherty Johnson and Melanie Kuhn only validate my concerns in their chapter Automaticity versus Fluency: Developing Essential Literacy Abilities with Print. No one is arguing that important literacy skills such as letter id., phonemic awareness, fluency, etc. shouldn’t be taught. So far, I don’t (or rather hope) that the implementation of letter naming, phoneme segmentation, nonsense word fluency, etc.) hasn’t led to instruction on how to conquered the assessment, but with teacher accountability of student performance looming, it is only a matter of time. Kids will be instructed on how to ‘beat the test’ instead of how to develop as a reader.
It is nice to have some ammunition against a practice I’ll continue to advocate against.
Luckily, AIMS web isn’t the only assessment we use, though it has become what determines if diagnostic assessment is needed. As the district prepares to adopt new literacy curriculum. We need to stay mindful of what we value in reading, and make sure we look beyond the number to find what our kids need.