First Days of School and Pre-Assessing Students
New Teacher Resource Center | Dorit Sasson
Already into the first week of the school year, you will want to determine the specific needs of your students. This can be accomplished by conducting an informal needs analysis or pre-assessment. A pre-assessment is an organizational tool to help you identify differences between current performance and desired performance. It allows you to determine what the students already know and what they are capable of doing. You can then determine what concepts and/or skills students still need to know, or learn, in order to complete necessary tasks.
An effective pre-assessment can explore alternate solutions, for example, to a reading problem. It may focus on the gap between the reading level students currently are at and where they need to be. You will define or identify the problem, and identify the students and their background, skills, knowledge, and motivation level. Typically, these reading assessments are short and include the following: oral reading assessment, reading ability of vocabulary, and reading words in context using sentences and read-alouds.
How to Use Information From Pre-Assessment for Lesson Planning in Reading
Once you know areas of student weakness, you can complete charts for fluency, accuracy, rate and retelling abilities. Using the fluency and accuracy chart, you can then decide which group your struggling readers is best suited for.
Using the information from the pre-assessment practices, map or strategically identify various categories of student difficulty. Use benchmarks and standards of your respective curriculums to determine the reading skills students need to know. Decide which critical areas are common to your groups of struggling readers and plan accordingly. Build a class profile. A class profile is made up of individual student profiles. When combined, these documents create a more comprehensive profile.
A pre-assessment or needs analysis also considers the environment, defines performance gaps and prioritizes needs. You can use the information gathered to identify possible solutions (Raney, 8). Finally, you also need to consider how the instruction will affect the students and determine the desired results.
Procedure for Gathering Information
You can use information observation, student documentation, and various assessment practices to learn what they need to know to successfully teach your students. Start by observing your students from the very beginning of the school year to determine their academic needs. You can also talk with prior teachers or read students’ files to learn about previous performance.
The critical need to successfully teach at all levels of instruction makes pre-assessments not only beneficial, but necessary organizational tools for the first days of school. Before creating successful lesson plans, understand first the areas in which students struggle. The information you’ll receive from pre-assessments gives the ability to better support lower performing readers.
Raney, L. “Workshop One Lecture.” CUR524 Instructional Design. University of Phoenix Online, August, 2003.