“More than 1 in 3 children in kindergarten through grade 3 have little chance of reading on grade level by the end of the school year without major and systemic interventions.”
Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), which Amplify administers, is one of the most commonly used diagnostic assessments for reading. I have used this assessment data for decades and other means of assessing students’ needs. We know the interruptions and disruptions of education will impact student learning, and measuring the level is only essential in providing an intervention plan to address needs.
Knowing we have gaps in student learning and developing an action plan to address the gap is the solution to providing students with the foundational skills they need. Literacy gap means a significant difference between what students are expected to learn in literacy-related tasks and what they have learned by a specific age or grade level (Scherer & Nilsen, 2019)
Phonics, fluency, and comprehension are the areas of focus to support students with gaps in reading. One of the most important things we can do is increase time reading and talking about what they are reading. Points to consider when working together to close these gaps during these times are:
- Use data! Set benchmarks and goals. Track the progress and include students in this process as well as families.
- Allow time for students to reflect on their progress. Give them ownership in their learning as they focus on their needs.
- Design opportunities for students to have cultural experiences and things they are interested in as part of their learning. Students learn more when they are deeply interested in what they are doing.
- Provide individual learning plans. The use of technology can provide opportunities for students to work on skills at their own pace.
- Build relationships with families! Together, you are partners in helping to close any gaps that exist and continue enhancing learning. Host literacy nights with activities to support reading at home. Book fairs, book exchange nights, author chair nights (families may want to host a reading with their favorite book and record it to share with other families), ask for volunteers to come in to read with kids, record children reading and play it back for them so they can hear themselves reading. Lots of things to do!
- Keep an open mind. I saved this for last not because it is not the least important, but because it means the most to me. I wanted to make sure I gave you all of the other information first so you could pause to let this one sink in. Data will provide information to us, but it does not give a complete picture. Teacher input, getting to know the student and their strengths. If a student is acting up, we should always ask why? Is the child having difficulty in the class, is the child bored or are other elements interfering?