What Does Growth Really Mean?

Jan 12, 2017

This week has been all about benchmark testing.  For my district that means Aimsweb assessments in the K-2 grades.  We also use the DRA to determine their reading level and analyze reading behaviors.  It can be a daunting task to see all the names to be assessed and the stacks upon stacks of DRA folders.  But...oh...it feels so good to see it slowly decrease in size and you begin to have a clearer vision of where you are headed in the upcoming weeks.

It is a reflection time for me.  Using LLI this year, I really know my students as readers.  The reading records that are used every other day give me a lot of insight into my teaching points.  The DRA helps me to see how it is all coming together through a "cold" read.  I am able to really look at what reading behaviors I need to focus on more, or phonics skills, or comprehension strategies.  I can also discover what strategies students have become very successful at using.  This reflection allows me to try to fill some gaps and realize some of the good work that has been done so far.

This is the positive side of my brain.

Then there is the other side.  The side that is telling me that I have not done enough to help them grow as readers.  The side that analyzes each student and realizes that they just did not quite grow enough.  They just fell short of that benchmark or they are making gains that are just so small.  Should I be doing this job?  Am I qualified?  Why aren't they growing more!?!

But then I have to step away from that side of my brain (or I have to be nicely encouraged to step away by my teammates).  And I have to remember that growth has a different meaning for each child.  Yes, DRA states they should be reading at a level XYZ and Aimsweb says that the norm is for a student to be reading Xwords per minute.  But if they don't hit that prescribed benchmark, it doesn't mean they have not worked their tails off to get where they are at, or that I have not come in each day and tried to instill a love for books while embedding the teaching of reading behaviors, phonics patterns, sight words, and comprehension strategies.

I have.  And they have.

Growth is going to look different for each student and they have to move at a pace that is going to work for them and their needs. If I stunt that love for the learning and reading, then that growth is going to come to a staggering halt.  I just want to give my all.  And I want to inspire, engage, and encourage my students to do the same.  Through this effort...they will grow.

And I will grow.



  1. I love that you're so focused on the love of reading instead of numbers. Like you say, the numbers will halt for sure if we forget how important wantability is.

  2. My plan is to do a timed cold read on Monday, then reread on Tues and Wed. It doesn't always go exactly three days in a row, but we almost always see growth. I love seeing each child's individual level and needs.


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