Benchmark Assessment System (BAS)

• During 2011-12, all teachers in Brookline were trained in the use of the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System (BAS). As new teachers enter the system, they are also trained.

• This past fall, all students in grades 1-5 were assessed using the BAS, as well as students in grades 6-8 who did not reach proficiency in last year’s MCAS. In the spring, all students, including some kindergartners, were assessed a second time. Additionally, students who receive literacy support or who will attend a summer literacy program were assessed a third time.

• A benchmark assessment system is a series of texts that can be used to identify a student’s current reading level and progress along a gradient of text levels over time. The word “benchmark” means a standard against which to measure something.

• The assessment determines each student’s independent, instructional and hard reading levels. This information is used to group students for reading instruction;* select texts that will be productive for students’ instruction; assess teaching outcomes; identify students who need intervention; and document student progress. *This is one component of the larger, comprehensive reading program teachers implement in Brookline.

• The BAS is administered during a one-on-one, student-teacher assessment conference. The student reads aloud (and silently at higher levels) and talks about benchmark fiction and nonfiction texts while the teacher observes and notes the student’s reading behaviors and documents the comprehension conversation. There is an optional writing assessment at the higher levels.