There are several options for teachers to consider for Foundations and Essentials that can be used to support grading practices.
The Review Lessons in Foundations are designed to help teachers identify areas that need additional review or practice. However, these sections can also be used as assessments for grading purposes. We recommend giving the assessment from Foundations and then incorporating any areas where a student struggled as a review moving forward.
The review lessons in Foundations include a table of skills and target mastery levels for each. These can be used as a guide when grading the assessments in Foundations.
- Mastery 1: These skills should be mastered, so you can require mastery for students to get full credit.
- Mastery 2: These skills are still developing; mastery is not required. Either do not grade these skills or give full credit for demonstrated familiarity with the concept or developing mastery.
- Mastery 3: These skills should not be assessed. They have been introduced, but students are not expected to have mastered them and will learn more about them in later lessons.
There are two options for the creation of grades. You can either create a grade for ELA (English language arts), including all of the different aspects found in Foundations, or create separate grades for reading, spelling, and handwriting based on the table of skills.
If separating grades into individual skills, consider the following:
- For reading, phonemic awareness skills, their knowledge of phonogram sounds, and other phonics concepts can be assessed more formally in each review or informally through the phonogram and spelling games they play. In addition, the various reading activities that students participate in, such as reading phrases and acting them out or matching pictures to the correct word/phrase, can be used to judge a student's mastery of the material informally.
- For spelling, we suggest basing this grade primarily on being able to write or identify the phonogram when hearing the sounds, as this is the most basic skill of spelling. Other factors to consider are participation in spelling analysis successfully, segmenting words into sounds, identifying words that follow a particular spelling rule, and dictation of words that students have had ample opportunity to practice. One important note about spelling is that we encourage you to give at least partial credit when students make a reasonable guess, especially with students who are just beginning these skills or struggling.
- For handwriting, assess whether or not students can write the letters they have learned using the correct formation. This part is tricky to assess with younger children because not all students will have the fine motor skills needed to complete this on paper. Still, you can assess students' ability to write letters on whiteboards or other large-motor applications. Developing writers who are still learning to form the letters and may need additional support, assess their ability to complete the letters while saying the strokes with you.
In Essentials, the fifth part of every unit is an assessment. These "Check for Understanding" sections can be utilized to evaluate areas in need of improvement, such as whether students are consistently missing the same phonograms while spelling or if there is a spelling rule that is being misapplied. As with Foundations, we recommend administering the Check for Understanding for each Essentials unit and then reteaching and reviewing content based on the patterns that are observed. However, the assessments can also be used for grading purposes.
For Essentials, the two options for the creation of grades are similar to those in Foundations. You can either create a grade for ELA (English Language Arts) which would include all of the different aspects found in Essentials, or create separate grades for reading, writing, spelling, and grammar based on the table of skills.
- If separating grades into individual skills, consider the following for reading. A student's knowledge of phonogram sounds and other phonics concepts can be assessed more formally in each review, or informally through the phonogram and spelling games that they play. In addition, activities associated with the Essentials Reader, and the various reading activities within the Essentials Student Workbooks, including reading words, phrases, and sentences can be used to informally judge mastery of the material.
- For writing, spelling, and grammar, consider using the dictation portion of Part 5 - Check for Understanding in each unit to review student skills in writing words, phrases or sentences. Student work can be analyzed for correct use of phonograms, correct spelling of words, and the ability to include grammatical concepts such as separating words with commas. As with Foundations, we encourage basing a grade in spelling primarily on being able to write or identify the phonogram when hearing the sounds, as this is the most basic skill of spelling. You could also consider assessing students on words in which they've had extensive opportunities to practice writing.