If your students have been properly trained in the Read Naturally program, and if you’ve checked their initial placement (Encore or Read Naturally Live), you’re now entering the sweet spot of a Read Naturally intervention. This is when your students’ progress and confidence will really start to soar. You now have the important task of monitoring their performance to accelerate learning.

Monitoring your students’ performance will help you keep your students challenged, modify the program when students are not progressing as expected, and determine when your students are ready to exit the program. Your main role is to keep tabs on students’ goals. Every time you conduct a hot timing, make note of how a student is doing. Regularly analyze data from graphs and reports to look for trends indicating that a goal change might be necessary. 

Keep the student's long-term benchmark fluency goal in mind as you determine whether to make a change. The student's long-term benchmark fluency goal is to read unpracticed, grade-level material accurately, expressively, with understanding, and at a rate that is at least at the 50th percentile of national norms. In order to reach the long-term benchmark fluency goal, the student's goal and level both need to be increased over time. 

Our Curriculum Director, Karen McKenna, advises that, unless a student has completed all 24 stories in a level, it is usually best to raise the goal. Even though it’s apparent the student is growing as a reader, the student needs to develop mastery before moving to the next level. According to Karen, most students who are appropriately placed can remain challenged by raising the goal. However, if the student's comprehension is also excellent, error rates are low, the student has completed at least 12 stories in the level, and the student's level is several years lower than the student's grade level, you may consider raising the level.

Generally, after placement has been checked and once a student is working successfully in the program, you should not lower the goal or level. These changes are often perceived by the student as signs of failure and can affect motivation. However, you might occasionally need to lower the goal. For example, if a student’s comprehension is consistently below 80% even after explicit comprehension instruction and other adjustments (making sure the student is reading aloud during the read-along step or switching the student to whole-story timings), you may need to lower the goal so the student can focus on comprehension. 

The following trends indicate that it may be time to raise a student’s goal:

  • The student’s cold- and/or hot-timing scores have improved significantly.
  • The student has consistently exceeded his or her goal by more than ten words.
  • The student’s comprehension scores are 80% correct or higher.
  • The student’s error rates have decreased or remain low.
  • The student's number of practices to goal has decreased significantly.
  • The student is losing motivation because he or she is no longer challenged.

When adjusting goals and levels, follow these guidelines to help ensure the student's continued success:

  • Raise only one element at a time: either the goal or the level.
  • Raise (or, in rare cases, lower) the level by half a year (for example, from Sequenced level 2.0 to Sequenced level 2.5). 
  • Raise (or, in rare cases, lower) the goal by 10 words at a time.
  • Discuss the change with the student, asking for his/her input.

Sometimes, you will notice patterns in your students’ data but decide to continue with the current goal while supporting growth in another area. For example:

  • If the student's cold- and/or hot-timing scores have improved significantly, but the student's error rates were high during cold or hot timings due to a lack of phonics skills, do not change the goal. Instead, provide additional phonics support. 
  • If the student has consistently reached his or her goal in three practices or fewer, but the student has had high error rates due to carelessness or a desire for speed, keep the goal the same, and talk with the student about the importance of accuracy.
  • If the student has consistently exceeded his or her goal, but generally has scored less than 80% correct on the comprehension questions on the first try, the student is having difficulty with comprehension in the current level of material and needs instruction on how to best answer the questions. Our free strategies to improve comprehension resource is a helpful tool.

Our website contains additional information on monitoring student performance in Read Live and monitoring student performance in Encore. If you have further questions about how to optimize your students’ progress by monitoring their performance, please contact us. We’d love to help your students become fluent readers as soon as possible.