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Artifact 2

Running head: THE COSTLY FOUNTAS & PINNELL READING ASSESSMENT

The Costly Fountas & Pinnell Reading Assessment:


Sacrificing Reading Instruction for Student Data
Thomas R. DeGrand
Oakland University

THE COSTLY FOUNTAS & PINNELL READING ASSESSMENT


Abstract
The following critique is a comprehensive analysis of the use of the Fountas and Pinnell (F&P)
reading assessment in the West Bloomfield School District, particularly Scotch Elementary
School. While I find great value in this assessment in terms of diagnosing students strengths
and weaknesses in reading, this value comes with a high price tag: loss of instructional time. I
have used Alan Blanksteins Failure is Not an Option: 6 Principles That Advance Student
Achievement in Highly Effective Schools as a means of conducting this analysis and critique.
Throughout this paper, I will be presenting the current problem of excessive time commitment to
administering the assessment, followed by suggestions for resolving this problem that I feel is
diminishing our reading instruction as we continue this data rich, action poor style of teaching.
Some of these solutions include: utilizing an online reading assessment that will provide equally
authentic data; collaborating with last years teachers to gather the needed data; only formally
assessing those students below grade level, while completing quicker, formative check-ups on
the students reading at or above grade level; and welcoming parents into the classroom to run
productive activities while the teacher administers the assessments. It is my hope that this
critique will lead to all school stakeholders working together to get back to why we are all
here...student achievement.

THE COSTLY FOUNTAS & PINNELL READING ASSESSMENT


The Costly Fountas & Pinnell Reading Assessment:
Sacrificing Reading Instruction for Student Data
Three years ago, West Bloomfield School District moved from the Developmental
Reading Assessment (DRA) to the F&P reading assessment. The primary reason for this change
was that the DRA involved a written portion, making the assessment more of a literacy
assessment rather than a true reading assessment. The F&P assessment involves the same oral
reading portion, however, instead of the students writing out a summary and answering
comprehension questions on paper, they now had the opportunity to do this all through
conversation with the teacher. This made it a more accurate reflection of their reading level.
Since the adoption of this program, there has been nothing but complaints about the length of
time to administer this assessment. This time is cutting into the reading instruction causing
teachers to rush through or not finish the required reading curriculum for the year. Having the
data is great, but what good is it if you dont have time to teach to it? This question is what has
inspired me to not only write this critique, but also talk personally with my reading consultant
and principal, as well as other administrators and teachers in the district. If we are going to live
up to our districts mission and vision, then a change needs to happen now before we allow more
students to be robbed of their reading instruction.
Scotch Elementary School is one of five elementary schools in the West Bloomfield
School District. It is the largest of the elementaries, with over 700 students in grades two
through five. West Bloomfield is a diverse, affluent community lying approximately 25 miles
northwest of Detroit. The school district currently has 6,633 students, with over 40 different
languages represented. Both students and parents have a high commitment to learning, with
98.4% average daily attendance and 93.5% attendance at elementary parent-teacher conferences

THE COSTLY FOUNTAS & PINNELL READING ASSESSMENT


(District Overview, wbsd.org). It is this commitment to learning, from both the community and
the staff, that I hope can help drive this needed change.
Principle 1: Common Mission, Vision, Values, and Goals
Mission Statement
The West Bloomfield School District educates students to be their best IN and FOR the
world (West Bloomfield School District, 2014). While this mission statement of West
Bloomfield School District is short and sweet and it looks nice on posters, papers, and
websites, it lacks the necessary elements of a quality mission statement as suggested by Alan M.
Blankstein. Blankstein states, An effective mission statement expresses the schools purposeits essential reason for educating in the first place. It expresses why a school exists (Blankstein,
2013, p. 88). By this definition, the mission statement seems adequate. However, Blankstein
(2013) later adds:
The mission statement serves the organization by providing specifics about
1. What do we want to do?
2. How will we know if we are succeeding?
3. What will we do to ensure success? (p. 89)
As one can see, West Bloomfields mission statement fails to address numbers two and three.
How will it be known that the students are at their best, and what will the district do to ensure
that they meet their highest potential? That is where the F&P reading assessment comes into
play.
The F&P reading assessment is a diagnostic tool used kindergarten through fifth grade in
West Bloomfield. The core purpose of this assessment is to allow teachers to get a thorough
representation of a childs reading abilities, specifically his/her oral reading fluency and

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comprehension of both fiction and nonfiction texts. The assessment definitely satisfies its
purpose, and ensures that we, as teachers, know if the students are succeeding (step two) and
what we need to focus on to ensure that success (step three). You might be asking, Whats the
problem? Why the need to critique what seems to be a quality assessment and diagnostic tool?
Well, there is a catch. It is never that easy! While it is true that the assessment gives teachers
quality data to use to help pinpoint students reading weaknesses and to target those areas, it is
also true that the length of time that it takes to formally assess all students in your class is
excessively high. Classroom instruction is replaced with a classroom teacher sitting up at the
front of the room testing one kid at a time while the other students are working on what one
hopes to be productive. How much instruction is replaced? Let me share with you last years
data. During one round of testing, I completed 83 assessments for 29 students. Each assessment
takes on average about 15 minutes, totaling about 21 hours. Since these assessments replaced
the reading instruction each day, which is an hour per day, my class then missed their instruction
in reading for about 21 school days, or just over four weeks of school (about one month). Here
is where it gets interesting (more like frustrating); that month of missed reading instruction to
assess the students is only ONE round of assessments! Thats right, we have to test the entire
class not once, not twice, but three times throughout the year! On top of that, in between those
rounds, we have to formally assess any students that are still below grade level. So by the time
we finish one round, we usually have to start another round with the students below grade level,
followed by the start of the next full round. When does reading instruction ever occur then?
Thats a great question! The irony of the entire assessment program is that it is meant to give
teachers diagnostic data so they can work with the struggling readers in their specific areas of
need; however, due to the length and requirements of the assessment set forth by our district, a

THE COSTLY FOUNTAS & PINNELL READING ASSESSMENT


teacher never has time to actually work with the students. Instead, they are only testing them!
Through multiple conversations with my principal and reading consultant, it is my goal to find a
solution to this clear problem in the program. I am seeking out resources in other districts, as
well as researching online, to find a reading assessment that has an online component. Im
looking for a program that would have students orally read a passage with the teacher, and then
go back to a computer to read the rest of the text online, followed by answering comprehension
questions that could be scored immediately by the computer program. Teachers would be able to
test their entire class within one or two sessions, allowing teachers to still get the data they need,
but also have the time to actually TEACH!
Vision Statement
Continuing along the path that we are as a district, in terms of our reading assessment
program, I find it difficult to comprehend how we will ever satisfy the districts (2014) Vision
Statement as it is stated below:
We will develop socially responsible citizens empowered to meet the challenges of a
rapidly changing global society, and who are characterized by curiosity, creativity,
critical thinking and the ability to effectively communicate and collaborate.
How do we get the students to reach those five Cs if we are not spending the time teaching them
in the most critical area of school? Why is it that despite the critical feedback the district
receives from teachers regarding the time element of the program, nothing ever changes? What
ulterior motives does the district have with this program? Do they need the multiple data points
for state requirements or accreditations? Why do we spend time formally retesting students that
are above grade level? Do we need to formally assess three times throughout the year, or would
just getting the data at the start of the year be sufficient, followed by informal reading

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assessments? These are just a few of the questions I feel need to be addressed if our district
hopes to meet the goals of its Mission and Vision Statements.
Principle 2: Ensuring Achievement for All Students- Systems for Prevention and
Intervention
The three major aspects of ensuring student success include:
1. The school communitys belief system regarding low-performing students
2. The overarching philosophy that unifies staff behavior
3. Comprehensive systems for assuring success, including Response to Intervention
(Blankstein, 2013, p. 113).
I work at Scotch Elementary in West Bloomfield School District. My school includes grades
two through five. We are a high-performing school in our district, and we have a motivated staff
that consistently does whats best for kids. We have a shared belief that the Response through
Intervention (RtI) model is our comprehensive system for ensuring success for all students. This
philosophy of devoting time and working collaboratively within our grade levels, as well as with
the RtI leadership team, has been developed over the past few years, and more formally set into
place last year. Our school satisfies all three areas of ensuring student success: our belief and
philosophy are aligned with the capacity for every student to learn and succeed (Blankstein,
2013, p. 139), and we have programs in place, such as RtI, that help to answer the question
What do we do when students dont learn? (Blankstein, 2013, p. 142). However, West
Bloomfield has one problem, specifically with number three above (comprehensive systems for
assuring student success). Blankstein (2013) talks about how these systems must include
strategies for quickly identifying students in need. My district has two assessments designed to
do so: F&P reading assessments and Dibels/Daze reading assessments. While these assessments

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help to identify problems as early as possible- well before students have a chance to fail
(Blankstein, 2013, p. 133), one of the two does not satisfy the idea of quick identification. As
you read in Principle 1, 21 hours of instruction are lost due to the F&P assessments. I am not
here to question the quality of the assessment- it produces great diagnostic data for a teacher to
use as an improvement plan for each of his/her students. However, how good is that data if you
dont have time to put it in action? Every year, since the adoption of the F&P reading
assessment, I have had documented evidence of what each students strengths and weaknesses
are. However, due to the fact that so much time was spent testing, we had to pack the
instructional time in class with the curriculum that we are required to teach. As a result, I found
myself meeting with students one-on-one or in small group far less often than what is needed to
provide true support that sparks success. With that said, I have to mention that 100% of my class
reached at least a years worth of growth in their reading, with over 33% of the class growing
over a years worth. What could those numbers have been had I spent more time instructing the
students versus testing them?
I am not advocating abandoning the program or the idea of assessing students in their
reading; instead, I am pushing to seek alternative assessment models or to alter the structure of
the current schedule of assessments. For example, could teachers formally assess all students at
the start of the year, and after that, only formally assess students reading below grade level
throughout the remainder of the year? Students at or above grade level would be informally
assessed at various checkpoints to monitor their progress. Furthermore, could our school do a
better job at passing analytical data about students to the next years teacher? Currently, teachers
fill out placement cards for each student that includes his/her end of the year reading level, along
with other academic/behavioral data. Teachers also place each childs last F&P reading

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assessment in the childs academic file to be passed on to the next years teacher. One would
say, Why doesnt each teacher pull out each of their students files and analyze the data? That
would make sense, but those files dont reach the teachers until a day or two before school starts,
and then the inevitable happens...school starts and teacher stress rises with their plates going
from empty to full overnight. Why would a teacher spend time they dont have analyzing
reading data if they know they have to test the students anyways, allowing them to gather that
data firsthand? The answer- they wont! My recommendation would be to have our principal
devote our first late start staff development meeting of the year analyzing last years reading
data, developing improvement plans for students, creating needs-based reading groups, and
collaborating with last years teachers to clarify any questions or concerns that may come up.
Sure, students can grow or regress over the summer, but typically, their weaknesses wont
change. If changes do occur, a quicker, more efficient informal assessment would point them
out. Following this recommendation would allow teachers to only need to formally assess
students below grade level and informally assess all other students at the start of the year. This
would open a great deal of time, potentially 15 hours worth, of instruction per round of
assessment (45 hours for the year) that the teachers could use to actually teach to the learned
strengths and weaknesses of each of the students. I truly believe that this will help to ensure
achievement for all students.
Principle 3: Collaborative Teaming Focused on Teaching for Learning
Central to the success of high-achieving schools is a collaborative culture focused on
teaching and learning (Blankstein, 2013, p. 143). Collaborative teaming is critical to student
success, and it provides some solutions to the problems I have stated thus far regarding F&P
reading assessments. As I mentioned in Principle 2, one way to get diagnostic data of your

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students reading abilities is by spending some time at the beginning of the year, perhaps during
a late start meeting, going over the end of the year F&P assessments from the past year. By
completing this task at a meeting, you would be able to meet with the past years teachers, if
needed, to go over questions or concerns you have about certain students. Why are we not
utilizing the resource (past teacher) that knows that childs abilities more than anyone or
anything? Also, this idea would only be successful if teachers are more diligent about noting
areas of strengths and weaknesses on the tests themselves. I, then, could go through this data and
begin making needs-based reading groups. A great deal of information could be gathered
without completing one single time-consuming assessment. However, that information is only
accessible if teachers are provided the necessary time to collaborate with one another.
Moreover, lets consider the profession of a medical doctor for a moment. They are in
constant collaboration with their colleagues, discussing patient symptoms and test results, to
determine a diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Why dont teachers emulate this strategy
more? At Scotch, we are doing a better job at bringing student data to our grade-level PLC
meetings, but we have much more room to grow. We are coming from an era of simply
discussing topics that revolved around how we are doing our job versus how we are helping
students. For example, common topics at past PLC meetings might be curriculum updates, field
trips, scope and sequence of the curriculum, sharing of resources, and of course, complaining.
Now, we are working to form our discussions around student achievement and data. We need to
continue to improve in helping each other determine a diagnosis and appropriate treatment of
each of our patients, which ties into the idea that The teachers jointly accept responsibility for
student learning- across subjects, not just in their own classrooms- and work together to
overcome an obstacle (Blankstein, 2013, p. 152). This statement is especially true considering

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the new evaluation process that our district has adopted that allows teams of teachers to submit
their student data as a team versus individual. This promotes more collaboration among teachers
by stressing that every child in that school belongs to every teacher, whether they are in your
class or not. Grade-level teams will now focus on student achievement for all since it will
ultimately affect their evaluations (lets hope student achievement has always been the number
one priority, though).
That brings us back to the F&P assessment. While Ive mentioned that the assessment
provides quality data, could we still get data of similar quality through another means that we
could bring back to our team to study? Could we gather observational data while instructing
students that could give us the same information, but save us the hours upon hours of testing that
prevents instruction from occurring? By bringing observational data back to the team, we could
address struggling students and work together to prevent failure because failure is not an option!
This idea of observational data is discussed in more detail in Principle 4 below.
Principle 4: Data-Based Decision Making for Continuous Improvement
To summarize Principle 3 above, One of the most powerful and effective ways of
working with data is for vertical or grade-level teams to analyze student work together based on
common assessments or assignments...encourages all faculty members to share in the
responsibility for success of all students (Blankstein, 2013, p. 171). However, what kind of data
needs to be shared? Blankstein suggests, At a minimum, useful data should be multisourced,
relevant, timely, consistent, and disaggregated (2013, p. 174). Let me focus on the timely part.
The most useful data for teachers and students, therefore, are the more immediate feedback
from formative assessments...derived from...observations (Blankstein, 2013, p. 175). In terms
of the F&P reading assessment, why is it that observational data isnt good enough at times? We

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are professionals, right? Its no different than when I bring one of my sons into the doctor for a
wellness exam. Most of the time, the doctor does some quick, informal assessments and
presents a conclusion of his health status. They dont need to run a bunch of labs that get sent
out, diagnosed, and sent back with results unless it is absolutely necessary. How about a yearly
physical? A healthy person goes to their doctor once per year to see the level of their health. No
major tests are done...theyre already healthy! So why do we do major tests on students that are
healthy readers- reading at or above grade level? Why cant teachers just do a quick informal
check-up to see how they are progressing with both their strengths and their weaknesses? Are
they on the right track? Do adjustments need to be made? An ill reader- a student reading
below grade level- may need more extensive tests done just as an ill patient does if they go to the
doctor.
Doctors use observational data to assess their patients due to their expertise and
experience in the field. Many times, they know the condition at hand simply by observing the
symptoms to which they have grown familiar. When I am instructing a student in reading,
his/her strengths and weaknesses are usually very noticeable. Wait a second! Did I just say that
I am gathering data on students reading abilities while instructing them?! Yes I did...because
teachers are professionals as well. Just as doctors know illnesses and medicine, teachers know
student needs and strategies of intervention. So instead of spending the abundant amount of
classroom time completing required assessments, teachers could spend that time instructing
while also gathering data. For this to happen, the district (or state for that matter) needs to put
some trust in the professionals that are in the classrooms teaching the students. Once this trust is
established, continuous improvement in student achievement can and will occur due to the

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formative (observational) data-based decision making that allows teachers to actually have the
time to act on their decisions!
Principle 5: Gaining Active Engagement From Family and Community
While my argument throughout this paper revolves around the idea of eliminating the
overabundance of formal reading assessments on students reading at or above grade level, I
understand that administering these formal assessments may be needed at times throughout the
year. As I have mentioned before, I am not questioning the quality of the assessment. It
provides teachers important data that will guide their instruction on each individual student;
however, it comes with a price: loss of instructional time. Back in Principle 1, I suggested the
use of an online reading assessment that would entail students reading a portion of a text to the
teacher (testing accuracy and fluency), followed by reading the remainder of the text and
answering comprehension questions on the computer. This strategy would provide immediate
feedback for both the students and the teacher, while also freeing up a substantial amount of
instructional time that could be used to instruct the students in the identified areas of weakness.
This could move us away from the data rich, action poor system that we currently live in.
While this seems like a home run solution, what if our district cant access such an online
assessment program? Maybe its too expensive, or maybe it just doesnt get passed by the
curriculum department. What if I told you that there may be another way to continue utilizing
the F&P reading assessment in its current state, however, the time commitment drops from over
a month of testing to one week? What if I told you that the answer lies in the parents?
Interested? Let me explain my solution that not only buys instructional time, but it also involves
the parents and motivates the children.

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As Michael Fullan states, Nothing motivates a child more than when learning is valued
by schools and families/community working together in partnership (as cited in Blankstein,
2013, p. 188). Every classroom has a group of parents that would jump at the opportunity to
come help in the classroom. Why dont teachers utilize this resource more? According to
Barbara Eason-Watkins, The best way to ensure parental and community involvement in a
school is to welcome people into the school (as cited in Blankstein, 2013, p. 194). If West
Bloomfield School District is going to continue requiring the multiple formal reading
assessments throughout the year, could teachers devote an entire week to welcoming parents into
the classrooms to run academic activities (in their area of expertise), team-building activities,
enrichment activities, etc. during the course of each day, giving the teachers five solid days of
testing? As I said in Principle 1, one testing round takes approximately 21 hours. If we tested
for close to five hours per day (taking out time for lunch, recess, and specials), teachers could
realistically complete their class in 4 or 5 days, instead of one month! The activities that the
parents would lead throughout the week would actually be beneficial as opposed to some of the
busy work that is completed by students during the F&P testing periods currently. Understand
that I am not speaking for all teachers stating that only busy work is given, but lets be honest,
how productive are those one hour blocks of time when students are left to work completely on
their own while the teacher is at the front of the room testing? Parents would LOVE this idea.
Students would LOVE this idea. Teachers would LOVE this idea. Parents want to help in the
classroom- lets give them the opportunity in a very meaningful and beneficial way!
Joyce Epstein (John Hopkins University), James Comer and Ed Zigler (Yale), and
Maurice Elias (Rutgers University) concluded from their research that greater parental
involvement leads to higher levels of student achievement (as cited in Blankstein, 2013, p. 189).

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My aforementioned suggestion of inviting parents into the classroom to minimize the loss of
instructional time due to the F&P reading assessment would get the parents involved. Their
involvement wouldnt be of the trivial kind that you sometimes see in the classroom (e.g. guest
reader, preparing materials for centers, classroom parties); instead, their involvement would be
meaningful and productive to the success of the students. Having the parents take this active role
in the classroom would give them the sense that we are all in this together. Not only is the
parental involvement beneficial for student achievement, but the instructional time gained is as
well! Though this would take a significant amount of planning upfront, the payoff of this
unprecedented strategy would be astounding in the end.
Principle 6: Building Sustainable Leadership Capacity
Sustainability in all areas of the education field is crucial. You need sustainable teaching
practices that will continue to engage and challenge students. You need sustainable leadership
practices that will continue to motivate and inspire teachers to reach their highest potential. You
need sustainable learning occurring in the classrooms despite the changing benchmarks,
requirements, and demands put on todays students. How does a school accomplish these goals
of sustainability when they spend so much of their time assessing instead of actually teaching? It
starts with the leader.
Spend more time in schools (if you work in the district) or classrooms (if you are the
principal in a school), not just to check up on people as in the overused management
walkthrough, but as a way to develop genuine interest in, curiosity about, and knowledge
of what teachers and students are doing. Know your people first. Check the data and
spreadsheets second. Not the other way around. (Blankstein, 2013, p. 236)

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If administrators (at all levels) spent time in the classrooms during the assessment months, they
would see firsthand the amount of instructional time lost due to the F&P reading assessment.
Instead, when there is a walkthrough, we are expected to treat it as any other day of teaching
and learning. If thats the case, then why is it discouraged to administer these assessments
during walkthroughs? Dont they want to see what is happening in their classrooms? Some may
call these walkthroughs a dog and pony show. I cant completely disagree with that because
they arent seeing reality during the testing months.
Throughout West Bloomfield School District, you will hear grumbles from the
elementary teachers when it comes to the time commitment of administering F&P reading
assessments. Just recently, the reading consultants, our Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum
and Instruction, and our English Language Arts Curriculum Specialist made a decision that
requires even more testing. They are now requiring teachers to place a higher standard on the
students reading above grade level. In other words, if student A is reading at or below grade
level, then they only have to be at an instructional level to move up; however, if student B is
reading above grade level, then they have to be at an independent level to move up. What does
this mean for students and teachers? More testing of kids that are already high readers. The
more we are testing, the less we are teaching, making sustainable learning a near impossible
goal.
Student achievement is our number one priority, but lets not forget that we all have
families to raise by being employed as a teacher. Since our job is now tied into student growth
data (specifically the F&P assessment), teachers are now going to have to prove a years worth
of growth out of all kids, even though the students scores are held at different standards! How
does this make sense? It doesnt! Students are losing instruction and teachers are potentially

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losing their jobs over some data points. How will this create sustainable teachers, ones who are
motivated and passionate about their job? This is likely one reason Cynthia Kopkowski writes,
The National Commission on Teaching and America's Future proffers starker numbers,
estimating that one-third of all new teachers leave after three years, and 46 percent are gone
within five years (Kopkowski, Why They Leave, nea.org). Obviously there are multiple
reasons for that staggering statistic, but creating learning environments that prohibit authentic
learning from occurring will make teaching a very frustrating profession because teachers arent
seeing the focus put on student achievement. So I ask again, what is the purpose of the
assessment data? Is this testing for student learning, or is it for some state requirement or
accreditation?
Above, I mentioned the individuals that were involved in this new testing process in my
district. Did you notice any teachers in that group? The professionals that are actually in the
classroom day in and day out experiencing these assessments had not one voice! How is this
possible? Blankstein emphasizes the point that for sustainable leadership to develop, teachers
cannot be the mere targets of other peoples leadership, but must see themselves as being, and
encouraged to be, leaders of classrooms and of colleagues from the moment they begin their
careers (2013, p. 232). There was no distributed leadership to the teachers in this situation; no
shared responsibility or collaboration; we simply were the target and we got hit once again.
Teachers feel no ownership in this reading assessment, and therefore, we lack any drive to push
through the difficult components, such as time. This paper is my way of being a courageous
leader, and standing up for what I know is best for students. Changes must be made!
What about the elementary principals in the district? Why arent they speaking up?
Personally, I think the majority of them probably have, but their hands are likely tied. There is

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no way they havent seen the ill effects of F&P testing in the schools. Just walk into our
classrooms during the months of September/October, January/February, and April/May, and
youll see those effects. However, Blankstein states, The leaders role as a leader of learning is
put to the strongest test when his or her school faces demanding measures or policies that seem
to undermine true learning or distract peoples energies and attention away from it (2013, p.
221). This is me calling out West Bloomfields elementary principals. Stand up for what you
know is right! Do whatever it takes to bring about change in these assessments. Please, dont do
it for the teachers...do it for the students! While the F&P assessment may not be considered a
high-stakes test like the MEAP or ACT, it carries a great deal of weight with it, ranging from
report card scores to teacher evaluations. Remember this, High-stakes testing can push teachers
to deliver improved results but not necessarily to produce better learning (Blankstein, 2013, p.
221). Lastly, for all my leaders out there reading this (central office, principals, reading
consultants, teacher leaders, etc.), sustainable leadership involves a number of practices,
especially the following:
Begin all discussions about achievement and how to raise it with conversation and
reflection about the learning that underpins the achievement. Put learning first, before
testing and even before achievement. Get the learning right and the other elements will
follow. (Blankstein, 2013, p. 235)
Findings and Conclusions
To teach or to assess...that is what it basically comes down to. The answer is not quite so
simple. In order to teach, you need to assess. However, how can you find a way to assess,
without eating up all the time to teach? Clearly, 21 or more hours of lost instructional time to
complete F&P reading assessments (per round) is not an efficient, nor effective, way of getting

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our students college and career ready. West Bloomfield School District needs to find means of
getting the required assessment data without the loss of instructional time. Is there an affordable
online reading assessment program that would provide similar data with less time commitment?
Could we utilize one of our most important stakeholders, our parents, by having them run
activities in the classroom that would be authentic and worthwhile for the students, giving the
teachers a week to complete the assessments rather than a month to a month and a half? Could
we focus our attention on formally assessing only those students reading below grade level,
while doing quicker, more informal, formative assessments on students reading at or above grade
level? This would allow teachers time to really work with the students most in need, while also
checking on the progression of those students that are already healthy readers. Lastly, could
teachers collaborate more effectively with last years teachers to use past assessment data in a
more useful manner rather than that data just sitting in some folder being used to fill in a couple
blanks on a student record card? As I said, the answer is not quite so simple. To be honest, all
four of these suggestions could be used in some form or another in order to solve this critical
problem our district faces. I just hope that the district sees the situation as a problem and does
what it needs to in order to resolve it. Personally, I question if they even know some of the data
on instructional time lost due to these assessments. It is my job to be a courageous leader and
make sure they know this information, and push them to do what is truly best for students. One
thing is for sure, having reading data means absolutely nothing if you dont have time to act on
it!

20

THE COSTLY FOUNTAS & PINNELL READING ASSESSMENT


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