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Investing for success: How Buranda State School learned to talk meaningfully about reading assessment.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Rosie Scholl, Head of Curriculum

Buranda State School

Woolloongabba, QLD

Enrolments: 253

Interview date: 12 March 2021

Resources used at Buranda State school:

2015 – present: Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System (Years K–2 & 3–8)

2016 – present: Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention (Orange, Green, Blue, Red and Gold systems)

2019 – present: Fountas & Pinnell ClassroomTM Guided Reading (K–6)

“It’s just who I am, I’m a teacher.”

Rosie Scholl feels like she’s always been teaching and wouldn’t have it any other way. Currently Head of Curriculum (HOC) at Buranda State School in Woolloongabba, Queensland, Scholl’s impressive education career began in 1993. During that time, her achievements include contributing to the Department of Education, Queensland’s project, Nibasics, and completing a PhD in Education focused on transforming pedagogy through philosophical inquiry.

“We reflected on a disconnect that we had at about year 2 to 3.”

For Scholl and her colleagues, it was a 2018 Education Queensland professional development initiative (How to teach reading modules) that revealed a disconnect in reading assessment, tracking and monitoring throughout the whole school. This was a particular concern between years 2 to 3 where the assessment system changed from the PM Benchmark Assessment to PROBE. Scholl realised the impact this was having on the students and teachers at her school and knew she needed to explore an alternative.

 

“We wanted a system that was the same for all the children throughout the school so that the teachers would have a common assessment practice and a common assessment language to use with each other and with the children throughout the primary school.”

With a clear task at hand, Scholl set out to find a system that would deliver what her teachers and learners needed – a whole-school approach to reading assessment. From researching online, speaking to other HOCs and looking for recommendations from HOC discussion networks, Scholl came across the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System (BAS).

As well as providing the whole-school approach Buranda State School needed, BAS also offered fiction and non-fiction resources and aligned systems (Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention; Fountas & Pinnell  ClassroomTM) to help teachers act on insights from the reading assessment, further supporting a consistent teaching and learning experience from prep to year 6.

“BAS has allowed us to align our assessment practices across the whole school and allowed students to continue to receive feedback on their reading progress from prep through to 6.”

 

With BAS, Scholl has found that students now know that they will get dedicated time to read with their teacher, including meaningful feedback, at least twice a year. Similarly, teachers now know they have the opportunity to gather evidence of the strategies students are using, giving them confidence when allocating students to guided reading groups and planning the appropriate next steps to support each learner.

“Every teacher gets to listen to every child read. It’s not just pen and paper testing, you’re actually listening to children read and you’re able to give children feedback on their reading in a timely manner. I think that’s important.”

“They love that they can help children read in the guided reading sessions at the level they know they should be helping them at.”

 

 

Under the whole-school approach to literacy assessment, Scholl has found that “it’s helped the teachers a lot. It’s helped to bring everybody together”. She proudly reports that teachers are now better equipped to support each other, and that BAS has “given teachers a reason to talk meaningfully about student assessment”, often hearing them discuss “where kids are at, what help they need, what resources they might use, how do they address the problems these kids are having, what do they do with this child who wasn’t making much progress, what did you do to help get him or her there”.

 

“I’m not about to teach them how to do their teaching, but I am going to provide them with good resources and challenge them to keep learning and keep trying new things.”

 

The positive impact of Scholl’s leadership is evident in the collaborative relationship among teachers at Buranda State School. Scholl is determined to provide teachers of all levels with the support and resources they need to keep learning themselves - “[They are] not only good resources in terms of texts, but also resources in terms of “this is how you might...”.

 

That’s why she loves Fountas & Pinnell LiteracyTM resources - the guided reading lessons within Fountas & Pinnell ClassroomTM pose similar questions and are comprehensive but convenient for teachers to use - “it’s a very comprehensive system. When you pick the guided reading cards up, it’s not like you have to lug the whole thing with you. It’s a book and a card, you can sit down on the floor with the kids, do it, put it back in the box – in the right spot for the next teacher.”

“The feedback we’ve had is that [the teachers] loved [the BAS resources], they love the breadth of the system, they find that the children are reading about things that they otherwise wouldn’t have read about.”

“I would recommend the F&P resources because they’re comprehensive and aligned – I think it’s well worth it.”

 

 

Learn more about Fountas & Pinnell LiteracyTM

Benchmark Assessment System

Benchmark Assessment System

Leveled Literacy Intervention

Leveled Literacy Intervention

Classroom resources

Classroom resources

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