Running Records, DRA and CASI are assessment tools that provide a wealth of information about student strengths and needs.
This fall we provided two half day DRA and CASI training sessions for beginning teachers and for teachers who are new to their divisions.
The focus for both of these session was on how to administer and score the assessments, as well as how to use the results to plan next steps in the classroom.
Common questions often arise when administering DRA. Here are some helpful guidelines and scenarios.
FAQ’s About DRA
1. Can DRA be used to assign a grade on the report card?
It is inappropriate to use DRA data to form the basis for a report card mark. DRA gives us some good information about our students, but it does not provide a full picture of our students’ literacy skills. DRA is a diagnostic tool and as such, provides information about a student’s ability to:
- predict what the story might be about
- comprehend at a literal level
- retell a story in the proper sequence
- oral reading fluency
Although DRA does ask students to make connections and some stories have a making inferences question, it does not adequately address higher level thinking or critical literacy skills or expectations. As a result, it should never be used in conjunction with a report card grade to the extent that we could use this as a mark.
2. How can DRA help teachers interpret reading progress and plan further reading instruction?
DRA levels indicate the appropriate level of instructional text for your students. DRA also helps you to determine what level of text your students are able to read independently. From this we can determine what level of books is appropriate for sending home in borrow-a-book programs as well as for independent reading.
All running records, including those as part of the DRA, must be analyzed. Analysis of running records is used to form the basis for planning for whole class, shared and guided reading opportunities that focus on the specific skills students need (e.g., fluency skills, retelling, identification of elements of story).
Students should rarely be grouped just on the basis of their DRA reading level – i.e., all the level 14 readers would likely not be reading together. It is more likely that a group would be developed based on the need for a common skill (e.g., fluency, using context to determine an unknown word, etc.)
3. Which version of DRA should we be using?
There are currently 2 versions of DRA in use in TDSB schools: the original version and a new DRA 2. The original version contains all that we need to enter online. Be sure to have the updated version of the forms as they contain the comprehension rubric– a must have.
There is also a box of additional text which many schools find helpful. It contains 2 more texts at each level. These are particularly useful for students who need more than one opportunity to be successful at a level as they provide a fresh text for doing so. The alternative box also contains some nonfiction texts which the original does not.
N.B. Pearson no longer sells the original version of DRA. The DRA 2 version has a timed fluency and written component that the TDSB does not require to be completed at this time.
4. How often should DRA be done throughout the year?
DRA should only be conducted twice a year. Running records should be done frequently in lieu of additional DRAs. Running records involve doing a MSV analysis of an appropriately leveled text. Two good references for running records are Marie Clay’s Observational Survey, or www.eworkshop.on.ca.
***All Elementary schools received a copy of the Observational Survey and a Concepts of Print book this fall at the Kindergarten Professional Learning session. The full Observational Survey is not intended to be used with all students. This should only be done with students teachers are concerned about.
5. Should DRA level be recorded on a student’s report card?
DRA a diagnostic assessment only. Reading levels are to be used for planning appropriate programming. It assesses a small portion of a student’s reading skills. It should not be written on a report card.
N.B. DRA levels are required to be written on an IEP.
6. Should DRA be administered to all Senior Kindergarten students?
Students must have some concepts of print before being given a DRA assessment. Therefore for some SK students administering DRA is appropriate, while for others who have yet to develop these readiness skills, it would be inappropriate. If an SK student is not yet ready for DRA by the end of SK, it would be assumed that the student will have been flagged in some way.
7. What are the TDSB standards and targets for DRA?
When completing DRA, the following applies:
97%-100% Easy or Independent level
93%-96% Instructional Level
Below 93% Too Difficult
The end of year standards are as follows (according to the TDSB Literacy Standing Steering Committee):
Kindergarten level 4 – 6
Grade One level 16 – 20
Grade Two level 24 – 30
Grade Three level 34 – 40
The end of term thresholds are a part of the electronic data gathering system but are NOT to be considered for assessing or evaluating reading achievement. The DRA is a developmental reading assessment, which means that the only standards and targets we should be considering are the end of year targets established by the TDSB Literacy Steering Committee listed above. (Alix Harte: Program Coordinator, English/Literacy)
8. If a child is reading at an instructional of level 18, then what level should he be at for independent reading?
When reading independently, a student should be reading at approximately 2 levels below his/her instructional level.
9. Can DRA be used with children beyond Grade 3?
DRA is not appropriate for students beyond Grade 3. Junior students who are struggling and for whom CASI is inappropriate should be given CASI-type questions with an appropriately levelled text. Alternatively, a teacher may wish to administer the Flynt Cooter assessment.
***Instructional levels (93%-96% fluency with adequate comprehension) should be inputted on the system twice a year.
If a student is in the 93-96% range for fluency with adequate comprehension, that is their instructional level. You might try the next level just to see if it is the comprehension and accuracy stay the same.
If a student is in the 93-96% range for fluency with only some comprehension, the text is too hard and you should go down a level.
If a student is in the 97-100% range for accuracy with some comprehension, this text is too hard too and you need to go down a level.