So, I'm wondering how many of you use the DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment) as a reading assessment with all of your students and HOW you do it. We are going to be talking about how we can better utilize this tool this week with my staff and I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tags: DRA, assessment, classroom, elementary, reading

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I will be using the DRA with my 5th graders this year. I have not used it in about 4 years and I understand there is a new version out. My problem last time was that with the writing component I couldn't always tell if I was assessing their written expression or their reading comprehension. The 2nd and 3rd grade teachers piloted the DRA2 in my school last year and they were pleased with the results and the information they got from it that helped them with their teaching.
We dropped the DRA (except for our ELL classrooms) and are now using Fountas & Pinnell. This was done through our Pre-K-2nd grade assestment task force. We looked at every assestment there was. We wanted an asst. that was (1) easy to do (2) assessed for deep comprehension (3) included decoding and comprehesion. (4) professional development included & (5) we were looking for a asst. that truly guided instruction.. We got that with F&P. We felt that in comparing it to the DRA 2 (we piloted both before the final decision) that the DRA did not assess for deep comprehension, it was too literal.

We also liked the continum of literacy learning that comes with the kit, and helps us to deliver instruction.

Unfortunately, there is no ELL component at this time. So we had to go with the DRA for ELL students.
I just wanted to add that the DRA was too time consuming and the F&P asst. was much quicker and gave us the information we needed to inform instruction and show growth.
I have been using all this week.....My district requires it...well, at least my school does. We are required to at least do it at the beginning and at the end of the year.

I'm striving to use it more than that...but struggle finding the time. I do think it helps me a lot. Some of the books (at least in my kit) are a little rough around the edges, in my opinion. The thing is I only have 1 book per level in my kit. Are there more??? I hope there are! Of course, obtaining this would be another issue
don't use DRA, would like more info on it.
Not much info online. Here's what I found:
Pearson catalog site
PowerPoint w/a couple of screen shots of the rubrics

Basically a very thorough reading fluency and comprehension assessment administered individually. Somewhat similar to good "old fashioned" running records, but much more in depth, detailed, and time consuming. MOST teachers will say they like the INFO they get from the DRA, but hate how much time they take to administer to a whole class of students.

Personally, I think they are worth the time WHEN you USE the information you glean from them to GUIDE instruction. I think some teachers just go through the motions of "giving" them b/c they are mandated and then don't DO anything w/results. Problem is trying to get around the TIME hurdle. I take a week or two and do DRA INSTEAD of guided reading.

Wish the DRA site had more info for you. Email me if you want to see some more screen shots and I'll see if I can get some from my computer. :-)
My school uses DRA2 in grades 1-3. Our district has been using DRA as a benchmark assessment for years. I really like DRA2, I think it gives some good information. Second and third grade teachers are still deciding if they like the written part at Level 28 and above.
The DRA2 can be a valuable tool that will help provide you information about your students' reading. The newest version, the DRA2 has done a better job with the comprehension piece. I agree that the assessment is time consuming, that is the number one complaint from teachers, however if the information gleaned from the assessment is actually used to inform instruction and not just to submit benchmark date, it is well worth the time.

Also, the scoring of the assessment can be inconsistent among teachers. There is a level (16?) where the oral retelling turns into a written response assessment. The scoring of those responses can be subjective. I highly recommend that when you are first learning to use the assessment, grade level teachers score the assessments together in order to calibrate it.

The biggest hurdle to giving this assessment is the management. Teachers struggle with sitting in a corner of the room giving the assessment one on one while the rest of the class is doing something else. It is helpful as a staff to brainstorm ideas for managing the administration of the assessment so that the rest of the class is engaged in something meaningful and not just busy work. You did not say what grade levels are going to be implementing this, but if your teachers are already planning to implement literacy centers, I find that during the first few rounds of centers, teachers do not meet with guided reading groups, but meet with students to assess instead. It helps kids get use to the routine and independence of centers while the teacher is busy and at the same time the teacher is gaining information that will help guide his/her guided reading groups. Some people are lucky enough to have paraprofessionals who can work with students during the DRA administration time.

I have a Powerpoint that I put together that shows the difference between the DRA and the DRA2. It also tells what the different levels require in terms of administration. I can send that to you or put it on slideshare if you are interested.

Oh, one more thing. Teachers need time to read and become familiar with the books that their students will encounter in the assessment. If you don't have DRA2 and are still using DRA, the upgrade is worth it. You can get the upgrade if you already have the DRA kits at a cheaper cost.

I just reread your message, and it sounds like you are already using it but maybe not taking advantage of its information? Let me know if you have any specific questions about that.
Thanks so much for your thoughts, Rebecca.

I AM a fan of the DRA2 and as a district we've been trying to get it fully implemented K-5, but so many are dragging feet due to time. Those are the same that are not taking advantage of the DATA they glean to guide/change their instruction and meet the needs of those individual students. Or they only do the fluency part of the assessment. They all KNOW how much info the DRA provides, but don't seem to WANT that info for every child. Most are okay with using it with a few kiddos they are concerned about. So, HOW do I get everyone on board? We have a meeting tomorrow morning where I will stand up and share once again how valuable the assessment is and then, for the first time, establish district guidelines for its use. Wish me luck!!!
Michelle, my district is having similar struggles, mainly because the PD provided for DRA2 has been entirely focused on completing assessments, with no work done on how to use the data gleened from the assessments. I've presented the way in which I organize the data based on items from the Focus for Instruction sheet, which you can check out here. I've shown some colleagues how I keep this sheet handy while planning reader's workshop and a few have followed suit. How you persuade an entire district...still trying to figure that out!
Hi Michelle
How did it go? District guidelines are the only way to "get" teachers to all use it. I know teachers who have gone in kicking and screaming about using it but once they started to they saw the benefits. Unfortunately we can't count on all teachers to use it by just saying it is a good idea. In order for it to be most effective, I think it really has to be a district initiative that gives teachers the consistency in its use. that way it not only provides teachers with information but the district can look at growth across time as well as patterns and so on.
Rebecca
We use DRA2 (last year was our pilot year). I agree that it doesn't necessarily do a great job on deep comprehension, but I keep in mind that we should use multiple assessments anyway. DRA2 is a terrific starting point, and it tends to give admin the quantitative data they need. As far as administration goes, I used it during our independent reading time last year, so the students were already engaged in one of their typical routines. I also pulled a couple of students after school from the A+ program to complete their DRAs. This year, our principal is offering one substitute day, so I think that will go a LONG way in helping teachers complete the DRAs in a timely manner. (We're a charter school, so we have some flexibility over the budget).

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