Teachers sometimes ask about how to grade Foundations students.
The Review Lessons in Foundations are mainly set up to help the teacher identify any areas that need more review or practice. It is important that this be the primary focus in using them and that students are provided with any additional instruction and practice they need.
However, the review sections can be used as assessments for grading purposes as well. You can also use the review sections as a model for your own assessment: Give the assessment from Foundations first. Practice any areas where students struggled. Then give another assessment evaluating the same skills in a similar way.
The Foundations review lessons include a table of skills and target mastery levels for each. Use these as a guide when grading the Assessments in Foundations, or as a guide to what skills to focus on and what mastery levels to expect when writing separate assessments.
Mastery 1: These skills should be mastered, so you can require mastery for students to get full credit.
Mastery 2: These skills are still developing; mastery is not required. Either do not grade these skills, or give full credit for demonstrated familiarity with the concept or developing mastery.
Mastery 3: These skills should not be assessed. They have been introduced, but students are not expected to have mastered them and will learn more about them in later lessons.
Creating Your Grades
There are a few options when you are creating your grades. You can either label the category ELA (English Language Arts) and include all of the different aspects found in Foundations, or separate the skills into categories in the following way:
Phonemic awareness skills; knowledge of phonogram sounds and other phonics concepts (can be assessed in the review or through the phonogram and spelling games that they play); the various reading activities that they do such as read the phrase and act it out, match the picture to the correct word/phrase, etc.
These skills are the primary focus of Foundations and should be the biggest component of your ELA grade.
Base this grade mainly on being able to write or identify the phonogram when hearing the sounds (the most basic skill of spelling).
Other factors you can incorporate include participating in spelling analysis successfully, segmenting words into sounds, identifying words that follow a particular spelling rule, and dictation (with words that students have had ample opportunity to practice).
One important note about spelling is that we encourage you to give at least partial credit when students make a reasonable guess, especially with students who are just beginning these skills or who are struggling. For example, if a student spells "cat" with a K instead of a C, that is a reasonable guess and we generally handle that by saying, "that is a good guess and K does say /k/, can you think of another phonogram that says /k/?" Praise the student for their efforts and simply tell them, "in this word we use the phonogram /k-s/ to spell the /k/ sound." If students are still struggling with the spelling of a particular word, we would recommend you review that word using the spelling analysis process.
Handwriting: Can students write the letters they have learned using the correct formation? - This part is tricky to assess with younger children, because not all students will have the fine-motor skills needed to complete this on paper, but you can assess students on their ability to write the letters on whiteboards and in other large-motor applications.
With developing writers who are still learning to form the letters and may need additional support, assess their ability to complete the letters while saying the strokes with you.