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Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of January 20th

posted Jan 21, 2019, 6:29 AM by Courtney Richardson
Using Running Records as Formative Assessments
As a guided reading consultant, when I model lessons, I always take at least one or two quick informal running records to model how to use the power of formative assessment to accelerate students’ literacy development. It’s amazing how such a quick assessment creates so many ah-ha moments.
Formative assessment is a well-documented teaching and learning process, which is the only type of assessment practice linked to increasing student achievement. It has shown to be one of the most effective practices for struggling readers and English language learners (Williams, 2018). As opposed to a “one-and-done” assessment, formative assessment is a process, or framework for teaching and learning where teachers adjust and individualize instruction to fit the needs of students based on their observations.  This process involves collecting in-the-moment data from an informal running record to make adjustments to teaching and giving students feedback about how to improve aspects of their reading and self-monitoring processes.
The space on the back of the Next Step lesson plans allows for the teacher to take these informal running records that help to identify student needs “in-the-moment” that will be addressed in teaching points or as feedback given immediately after the reading has ended.  Two aspects of the formative assessment process are particularly paramount to effective literacy instruction – following these assessments with high-quality corrective instruction and giving students additional chances to demonstrate success (Guskey, 2007).  
Current trends in education call for the increased use of the formative assessment process, as it is evidence-based and provides sound instruction for all students.  The research success associated with formative assessment is substantial and equals between one and two years of student growth (Black & William, 1998; Wiliams, 2018).  Planning Next Step lessons based on these informal running records lends itself perfectly to harnessing the power of formative assessment!

Written by: Julie Taylor, Next Step Literacy Consultant.  You can contact her at