LCUSD's New Elementary Reading Assessment Program: Fountas and Pinnell

By PCY Assistant Principal, Carrie Hetzel

LCUSD’s primary grade teachers have been very busy learning and implementing a new reading assessment program.  The teachers were trained at the end of the last school year on the Fountas and Pinnell assessment program.  Fountas and Pinnell are two highly esteemed professors and experts in the field of literacy education. Their lives’ work has been to publish research-based materials which support students as well as classroom teachers. Their tools are widely used across the country, and they are considered the gold standard in literacy education.  The program’s established reading levels are the product of 20+ years of research and each point on the text level gradient represents a small but significant increase in text difficulty.  The levels are so gradual that each assessed student will be reading at precisely the correct reading level as opposed to a very general Lexile level that gives a broad numeric range.
This school year, every first and second-grade student has received an Independent Reading Level as well as an Instructional Reading Level by their classroom teacher.  The teachers are monitoring to ensure that students are reading at their Independent reading level and being supported at their Instructional reading level.  Teachers are also using these levels to match appropriate books to student readers, establish flexible reading groups, and refer students for academic assessments and reading intervention. As teachers work with students, they will note the literacy characteristics of each level as well as the predictable text features students will encounter by level. This provides teachers with intensive knowledge of the reading behaviors to notice, reinforce, and support. 
As you look for reading materials for your children at the library, bookstore, or through the Scholastic reading catalogs that are sent home by many teachers, make sure you are aware of your child’s Fountas and Pinnell reading level.  These levels are marked A through Z and can be found near the GRL, Lexile, or AR numbers in either the front or back of a book.  If you are unsure of the Fountas and Pinnell level for a particular book, there is a Literacy Leveler app you can use by scanning a book’s barcode, or you can go to the Scholastic Book Wizard online and enter the book’s title or other identifying information to see the level of the book.  Happy reading!