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Response to Using Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment Systems during Remote Learning


These are unprecedented times. Educators around the world have been called upon to shift quickly to remote learning and have brought creativity, determination, and compassion to teaching and learning in an uncertain time. Many of you have reached out to us with questions about digital access to Benchmark Assessment Systems.


Our Response to Administering Benchmark Assessment System During Remote Learning

Everything about the way you teach, the way you interact and engage with students has shifted suddenly and dramatically over the past several weeks. Under these unusual conditions, we do not recommend any kind of formal assessment. The Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System (BAS) was designed to be administered in person with an unseen text to gather evidence about a child’s literacy development.  The assessment was field tested for reliability and validity under these conditions. As a standardized assessment, in order to obtain fair and valid results, standardized procedures must be followed.  Without these conditions, the assessment is no longer reliable or valid.

We understand that many of you are still expected to report on end-of-year student achievement, so we recommend that you consult with your colleagues and school/district administrators for guidance. There is no one-size-fits-all solution during this time.


Alternative Measures

The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ team has gathered some ideas for alternative measures that you currently have at your disposal that may enable you to collect meaningful data points for each of your students. We hope these alternative measures can be used with relative ease to provide a snapshot of each students’ literacy learning.

1. Optional Assessments

  • Optional Assessment Video Overview located under the “Videos” tab in your Online Resources.
  • Consider which measures/assessments might provide evidence of your teaching and learning goals and are most appropriate for your students.
  • Optional Assessment Criteria: Scoring criteria for each optional assessment is provided, but use your professional judgment along with your school/district criteria to adjust as needed.
  • Optional Assessments: Close to 50 optional assessments per system that address fluency and phrasing, phonics and word analysis, vocabulary, and vocabulary in context. Each assessment includes directions and student and/or teacher forms to download, print, or share.

2. Observational Notes

Use your observational notes during your interactions with students to gain behavioral evidence of children’s thinking about texts:

  • Children’s talk about texts
  • Children’s writing about texts (journals, writing, readers’ notebook, etc.)

3. Student Writing and Talk about Texts

Tools to measure student writing and talk about texts: 

Collaborate with your colleagues on your school/district requirements. Use your own professional judgment about the best way to meet your school/district assessment policies in a fair and equitable way for all students.


A Note from Authors Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell

We understand the anxiety that many families are feeling about their children not being able to benefit from your teaching in the classroom each day. Families are anxious that children not fall behind, and educators are anxious about fulfilling requirements mandated by both school and/or state. Despite many challenges and limited time to prepare, teachers have shown great resilience and resourcefulness in creating opportunities to comfort and engage students. Your voice, your steady guidance, and your familiar face are all sources of security during an unpredictable time. Read the complete Open Letter to Educators from Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell here.


In Closing

We are proud to be your partner in the pursuit of literacy, and we appreciate the opportunity to learn alongside you. We hope these tools will help you during this highly unusual time. To provide additional support to you and your students, we have created daily tips/suggestions. We wish you and your extended family continued health and safety and are grateful for your ongoing partnership.


~ The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Team


View all remote learning updates


Topics: Featured Posts, Home, Remote Learning

Fri, May 8, '20

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