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Though we’ve had a very good year, I have some ideas for making things even better next year. (Don’t all of us teachers begin to think of next year even before the current year ends?)

​The long Minnesota winter is finally over! The snow is gone, the air is warmer, the sun is shining (sometimes), and now that daylight savings is here, the days suddenly feel longer. As much as I love spring (and truly I do!), it causes me some dismay, because I know how its arrival can negatively impact the work ethic of some students.

​In my last post, I shared the many assessment mistakes I’ve made over the years. Blunders aside, I actually love spring assessments for one simple reason. The spring assessment gives me an opportunity to show my students the big picture and remind them that the best reward of all is taking ownership of their own progress. This is usually just a short conversation, but it’s one of the most important talks I will have with them.

​Is it really assessment season again? It feels like yesterday that I opened the lab at this new school, met my students, and screened them for reading difficulties using Benchmark Assessor Live. The winter assessment window seemed to arrive just a short time after that. And now it’s springtime already, and the April 23 to June 11 Benchmark Assessor Live assessment window is almost here. It is time to prepare to assess the students yet again.

​Imagine you purchase a new workout machine for your home. It’s a top-of-the-line machine, with all the bells and whistles, and it works like a dream. You’re so enamored with the machine that you’re actually motivated to work out! At first. A few weeks or months later, the machine loses its luster and working out doesn’t feel quite as exciting anymore. Does this sound familiar? I hate to tell you this, but it’s not the machine’s fault!

It was the first week of February, and I was just completing the winter benchmark assessment of my Read Live students. I celebrated the student’s fluency gains, and I reminded them that their improvement was due to their own efforts. But, even while celebrating, I noticed something alarming that my students couldn’t. The amount of improvement among my students was far from equal.

“Everything is going so well,” I thought to myself. “This job gets easier every day!” That’s when the trouble began...

Today I have some thoughts and resources to share on the topic of comprehension. In my last post, I mentioned that the checking initial placement process alerted me to a student—let’s call him Connor—whose average comprehension score was 60% correct. Another student—let’s call her Lucy—was averaging 72% correct. These scores don’t fly in my reading lab. What’s the point of reading if not to comprehend? I want to see all of my students averaging 80% correct (4 out of 5 questions) or better on their first attempt at answering the questions.

For the first time in 25 years, Read Naturally founder Candyce Ihnot has moved her reading lab to a new school. In a series of blog posts, Candyce will share “stories from the lab,” in which she describes the successes, challenges, and surprises of operating Read Naturally Live in a new setting. She’ll sprinkle each post with bits of wisdom from decades of creating Read Naturally materials and using them with the beloved students she keeps at the center of her work. In this post, Candyce solves an important mystery that emerged in the lab after checking her students' initial placement.

For the first time in 25 years, Read Naturally founder Candyce Ihnot has moved her reading lab to a new school. In a series of blog posts, Candyce will share “stories from the lab,” in which she describes the successes, challenges, and surprises of operating Read Naturally Live in a new setting. She’ll sprinkle each post with bits of wisdom from decades of creating Read Naturally materials and using them with the beloved students she keeps at the center of her work. In this post, Candyce shares a story that highlights the importance of checking initial placement to ensure a student is working in the correct level.

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