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Read Naturally Encore: Checking initial placement

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Checking initial placement evaluates whether the learner’s level and goal are appropriate after he or she has completed the first three stories in the initial level. The following resources are available to help you work through this process:

Important! A teacher must be present for the first three cold timings in the initial level in order to ensure accurate data.

Read Naturally Encore II Checking Initial Placement Summary

The criteria used for checking initial placement are based on averages of the learner’s scores for the first three stories. The averages that meet the criteria listed below indicate that the level or goal may be appropriate. Averages that do not meet these criteria indicate that a level or goal adjustment may be necessary.

Criteria for an Appropriate Initial Level
  • The learner’s average cold-timing score falls within the range listed for the initial level on the Initial Placement Ranges table.
    Initial Placement Ranges
    Initial Level WCPM Score
    1.0 to 3.0 30 to 60
    3.5 to 5.0 60 to 80
    5.6 to 7.0 80 to 100
    8.0 100 to 140
  • The learner’s percent correct on comprehension questions is at least 60%.
Criteria for an Appropriate Initial Goal
  • The learner's average cold-timing score is lower than the goal by approximately:
    • 30 if in grades 4 and below.
    • 40 if in grades 5 and above.
  • The learner's goal average hot-timing score is equal to or slightly higher than the goal. 
  • The learner's average number of practices is 3 to 10.

Note: Checking initial placement should occur after the first three stories. However, if done after story 4, 5, or 6, use the scores from the most recent three stories. The Initial Placement Ranges table is no longer valid after six stories.

Step 1: Calculate the learner's data

In order to check the learner’s initial level and goal, locate the scores from the first three stories on the learner’s graphs. Use these scores to calculate the following:

  • Average cold-timing score
  • Average number of practices
  • Average hot-timing score
  • Percent correct on the first attempt of the comprehension questions

You can use the Checking Initial Placement Calculator for these calculations.

Step 2: Check the initial level

To see if the learner’s initial level is appropriate, analyze the relationship between the initial placement range and two of the values you calculated in Step 1 above—the average cold-timing score and the percent correct on the first attempt of the comprehension questions.

  1. Use the Initial Placement Ranges table to evaluate whether the learner’s average cold-timing score falls above, within, or below the wcpm score range for the learner’s initial level.
  2. Compare the results of that evaluation to the Level Analysis table below (using the first column) to determine whether the level may be too easy, appropriate, or too difficult.
  3. Compare the learner’s percent correct on the comprehension questions to the Level Analysis table (using the top row) to see whether the level may be appropriate, challenging, or too difficult.
    Level Analysis
    If the average cold timing score is... If the average percent correct on the comprehension questions is...
    80% or higher:
    Level may be appropriate
    60–79%:
    Level may challenging*
    59% or lower:
    Level may be too difficult*
    Above placement range:
    Level may be too easy
    Raise level Continue level Lower level
    Within placement range:
    Level may be appropriate
    Continue level Continue level Lower level
    Below placement range:
    Level may be too difficult
    Lower level Lower level Lower level
    *Support comprehension if the percent correct on the comprehension questions is below 80%.
  4. Find the point on the Level Analysis table where the two comparisons intersect. This is the suggested action.
  5. Based on the suggested action in step 4 and your knowledge of the learner, decide if you should raise, continue, or lower the initial level.
    • If you decide the learner should continue in the initial level, skip ahead to Step 3: Check the initial goal.
    • If you decide to adjust the initial level, raise or lower it based on the Level Adjustment table below.
    Level Adjustment
    If the initial level is... 0.8/ 1.02 1.3 / 1.5 1.8 / 2.0 2.3 / 2.5 2.6 / 2.7 / 3.0 3.5 4.0 4.5 5.0 5.6 6.0 7.0 8.03
    Raise to... 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5 4.0 4.5 5.0 5.6 6.0 7.0 8.0 8.0
    Lower to... 0.8 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5 4.0 4.5 5.0 5.6 6.0 7.0
    1 If the learner is in Level 0.8, knows beginning sounds and about 50 words, and the suggested action is to lower the level, continue the level. Go to Step 3 and check the initial goal.
    2 If the learner is in Level 1.0, knows beginning sounds and about 50 words, and the suggested action is to lower the level, lower to Level 0.8.
    3 If the learner is in Level 8.0 and the suggested action is to raise the level, continue the level. Go to Step 3 and check the initial goal.
    Note: If the learner’s earliest phonics need cannot be met in the level that is appropriate for his or her fluency needs, assign a Read Naturally Encore II level that matches the learner’s fluency needs and support phonics separately. (Consider using Word Warm-ups to address the phonics need in this case.)
  6. If you adjusted the learner’s level, conduct his or her first cold timing in the new level and assign a new goal using the Goal Setting table below and your knowledge of the learner.
    Goal Setting
    Grade Guideline
    Grade 4 and below Add 30 to the learner’s wcpm score for the selected level and round down to the nearest 5.

    Grade 5 and above

    Add 40 to the learner’s wcpm score for the selected level and round down to the nearest 5.
    ​You have completed the checking initial placement process and do not need Step 3 because the student will be working in a new level with a new goal.

Note: After the learner completes three stories in the new level with the new goal, begin the process of checking placement (level and goal) again.

Step 3: Check the initial goal

If the learner continues in the same level, your next step is to check the initial goal. For this step, you will need to look at the initial goal and three of the values calculated in Step 1 above. How the average cold timing score and average hot-timing score compare to the goal and whether the average number of practices is appropriate are important signs indicating whether the initial goal is too low, appropriate, or too high.

  1. Use the Goal Analysis table below to analyze these values. Select the one statement in each row that best describes the learner’s progress.
    Goal Analysis
    Criteria Signs that the goal may be...
    Too Low Appropriate Too High
    Cold-timing scores vs, goal The learner’s goal is lower than, at, or too close to his or her average cold-timing score:
    • 24 or fewer words above the average cold-timing score is too close for grades 1–4
    • 34 or fewer words above the average cold-timing score is too close for grades 5+
    The learner’s goal is an appropriate amount above his or her average cold-timing score:
    • 25–35 words above the average cold-timing score is appropriate for grades 1–4
    • 35–45 words above the average cold-timing score is appropriate for grades 5+
    The learner’s goal is too far above the average cold-timing score:
    • 36 or more words above the average cold-timing score is too far for grades 1–4
    • 46 or more words above the average cold-timing score is too far for grades 5+
    Hot-timing scores vs, goal The learner’s average hot-timing score is more than 10 words above the goal. The learner’s average hot-timing score is 0–10 words above the goal. The learner’s average hot-timing score is below the goal.
    Number of practices The learner’s average number of practices is less than 3. The learner’s average number of practices is 3 to 10. The learner’s average number of practices is more than 10.
  2. Count how many statements you selected under each column heading in the Goal Analysis table (Too Low, Appropriate, Too High). Using these totals, find the row in the Goal Adjustment table below that matches the number of signs that the goal may be too low, appropriate, or too high. Read across to the last column to determine the suggested action. 
    Goal Adjustment
    Number of signs the goal may be... Suggested Action
    Too Low Appropriate Too High
    3 0 0 Raise goal
    2 1 0
    2 0 1 Raise or continue goal
    1 2 0
    0 3 0 Continue goal
    1 1 1
    0 2 1 Continue or lower goal
    1 0 2
    0 1 2 Lower goal
    0 0 3
  3. Based on the suggested action and your knowledge of the learner, decide if you should raise, continue, or lower the goal.
    • If you decide to continue the goal, you have completed the checking initial placement process.
    • If you decide to adjust the goal, use the Setting an Adjusted Goal table below to set a new goal.
      Setting an Adjusted Goal
      Grade Guideline
      Grade 4 and below Add 30 to the learner’s average cold-timing score for the selected level and round down to the nearest 5.
      Grade 5 and above Add 40 to the learner’s average cold-timing score for the selected level and round down to the nearest 5.
      If the new goal is above the average hot-timing score, consider setting the goal at or slightly below the average hot-timing score. As the student completes more stories and his or her cold timings improve, you will increase the goal.

You have now completed the checking initial placement process.

Note: After the learner completes the next three stories in the level, check the goal again.

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