How FAIR assesses reading in grades K-2

Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading (FAIR)

Kindergarten teacher helping student with reading skillsFiguring out just how to assess student reading in grades K-2 and 3-12 is a time-consuming, costly and headache-ridden process for many educators. Help has arrived in Florida in the form of a $7.7 million statewide assessment system. In collaboration with the Florida Center for Reading Research, the state Department of Education has developed the Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading (FAIR), an adaptive, computer-based formative assessment system that any public school in the state can use free of charge (hardware not included).

FAIR offers educators in other states an instructive model in how to assess reading in students. So far, 3,400 schools in all of the 67 districts in the state are using FAIR, says Barbara Elzie, deputy director of the Department of Education’s statewide reading initiative, Just Read, Florida!. About 1.6 million students have been tested with FAIR, over 1 million in grades 3-12. Use of FAIR is optional except in kindergarten.

How FAIR Works

Florida students in grades 3-12 self-administer the Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading (FAIR). But, in grades K-2 teachers must administer the assessments individually to their students 3 times a year which is an issue for teachers, who were not involved in testing their students before, says Barbara Elzie, deputy director of the Department of Education’s statewide reading initiative, Just Read, Florida!.

Assessment was done by assessment teams. Teachers are complaining that testing their students is time-consuming under FAIR. Schools’ use of FAIR is
optional except in kindergarten. On the upside, teachers have access to monthly assessments for all students making it easier to monitor students’ progress towards meeting end-of-year benchmarks. FAIR testing is expected to replace DIBELS testing at schools that used them for Reading First.

There are four types of assessments in FAIR for K-2:

  1. the Broad Screen/Progress Monitoring Tool given to all students in 3-5 min.
  2. the Broad Diagnostic Inventory, which includes comprehension and vocabulary tasks
  3. the Targeted Diagnostic Inventory
  4. Ongoing Progress Monitoring Broad Screen/Progress Monitoring

In kindergarten, the broad screen contains measures of letter-name knowledge, letter-sound knowledge,phonological awareness, and word reading. Grades 1 and 2 both involve word reading tasks, with the grade 1 task as time unlimited, and grade 2 word reading being a timed test. The screen identifies students who are not likely to be successful on the end of year outcome test.

Broad Diagnostic Inventory

The diagnostic inventory tests for comprehension, expressive vocabulary and spelling, administered as a group test in in grade 2. The comprehension task consists of explicit and implicit questions, story grammars and situation models that increase in difficulty over the grades. Kindergarten students are tested for listening comprehension and grades 1 and 2 for reading comprehension. The reading comprehension task also includes scores for accuracy and fluency (i.e., words correct per minute). The expressive vocabulary task measures the breadth and depth of a student’s vocabulary. The student is asked to label objects, actions, or attributes and is prompted in cases where an answer requires further precision. The spelling task in grade 2 assesses students’ phonological and orthographic knowledge of words.

Targeted Diagnostic Inventory

The following assessments are administered according to grade level to pinpoint student difficulties:

  • Kindergarten: Optional Print Awareness, Letter Name and SoundKnowledge, Phoneme Blending and Phoneme Deletion, Letter-Sound Connections(Initial and Final), and Word Building tasks (initial and final consonants and medial vowels).
  • Grade 1: Letter-Sound Knowledge, Phoneme Blending Phoneme Deletion(initial and final), and Word Building tasks that progress from consonants andvowels to CVCe and blends.
  • Grade 2: The same Phoneme Deletion and Word Building tasks as thosein the Grade 1 and a Multisyllabic Word Reading task.

Ongoing Progress Monitoring

Multiple probes from the Targeted Diagnostic Inventory are used for ongoing progress monitoring. In grades 1 and 2, monitoring includes equated, short passages for assessing oral reading fluency in one minute.

Florida Assessment for Instruction in Reading Technical Manual 2009-2010

Edition Kindergarten – Grade 2, State of Florida Department of Education, 2009.

3 Responses to “How FAIR assesses reading in grades K-2”

  1. Susan Bowles

    I have been giving the FAIR test to Kindergartners for the past three years. This is in addition now to Discovery Ed tests, FLKRS, baseline tests, and then an actual assessment that we have chosen to use since the above mentioned tests do not give us the information we actually need to place children in reading groups that best meet their academic needs. All of this testing comes at a time when, as Kindergarten teachers, we should be sitting with the children as they play and participate in activities so that we can make relational connections. While we strive to make our classrooms warm and personal, it is difficult because we are testing at every turn. This year, in the wisdom of the FAIR testing people, we are being asked to test the children one on one, with the children using computers. They want the teacher and child to both have headphones on during this testing, all the while providing education for the other 17 children in our classrooms. (Have you ever turned your eyes away from 17 Kindergarten students?) Obviously, none of these people making decisions has graced a Kindergarten classroom aside from when they went through school. This is the absolute most absurd requirement, and yet teachers are trying to comply. When will the insanity stop? Will someone in Tallahassee, at Pearson or WHEREVER these decisions are being made PLEASE GET A CLUE? I would appreciate receiving the name of someone I could speak to who has some authority to make changes.

  2. Patti Callahan

    I fully support Susan Bowles comments. As the mother of a kindergartner and a second grader, I understand and appreciate the need to “test” the children to best determine proper placement to serve individual needs. However, I fail to understand the need for multiple tests. With so many tests going on, when do the children have time to actually learn and get the education they deserve?

  3. Sharon Frausto

    I agree whole-heartedly. As a teacher of CBI students, who have previously be exempt from a great deal of this testing, that is about to change. We too are being brought into this testing madness. I feel tested-out so I can only imagine how my students feel. This madness will only stop when irrevocable damage has been done and they have burned out students and teachers alike. When qualified teachers have finally had enough and begin to leave the profession in droves then maybe, just maybe, they will get a clue. Or better yet, how about we test “them” (the decision makers) and ascertain what their level of comprehension is concerning this matter. Keep speaking up, and finally one day our voices will be heard.


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