I decided to assess their reading abilities using the Common Core State Standards for Literature. First, I had to find a story. My go-to place is Project Gutenberg, which offers over 42,000 free ebooks in the public domain. For access to a short, age-appropriate story, I headed straight to The Aesop for Children. This book has dozens of fables, written especially for kids. One of my favorites is "The North Wind and the Sun," so I copied it, pasted it, and adapted it (all totally legal because the book is in public domain) to fit my needs for the reading preassessment.
Next I wrote seven questions to directly assess RL.4.1 (answering an inferential question), RL.4.2 (finding a theme and summarizing), RL.4.3 (describing a character), RL.4.4 (using context to find word meanings), RL.4.5 (discriminating between poetry, drama, and prose), and RL.4.6 (determining point of view).
My students were finished in about 30 minutes. What did I learn?
- They can write answers using question parts.
- They can answer inferential questions.
- They either cannot or will not support their answers with evidence from the text.
- They don't know about citing.
- They do not write conclusions.
- They do not know the word "summarize."
- They do not know how to find a theme; perhaps they don't even know what a theme is.
- They understand how to use context clues to find word meanings.
- They do not know the word "prose."
- A few of them can determine point of view; however, even those who could do it did not use the terms first-person and third-person.
P.S. It's relatively easy to create an assessment like this yourself, but if you'd like to use mine, fourth and fifth grade versions are available at my Teachers pay Teachers store for $1.50 each. Stop by on Sunday, August 18th, or Monday, August 19th, for the site-wide sale! Everything in my store will be 20% off---and TpT will also give you an additional percentage off.