Research indicates that to succeed as readers, students need ample opportunity to read texts at their reading level. Research has also shown that texts used for instruction that can be read with at least 95% accuracy produce greater gains than more difficult texts (Allington, McCuiston, & Billen, 2014).
Assign Newsela’s new Back-to-School Benchmarks in the first weeks of school to let Newsela get an early read of your students’ reading levels. What’s more, once Newsela knows your students’ reading comprehension level, it will present your students with more than 4,000 adaptive articles within their comfortable reading range.
Want to know more? Watch this quick how-to on using benchmarks.
What are benchmarks?
Benchmarks are the fastest way to help Newsela (and you!) understand your students' reading level. Newsela has a benchmark assessment for every grade level for grades 2-12. Students read a total of 3 articles and answer 24 quiz questions. Unlike other Newsela articles, these articles are available at just 1 level — the student’s grade level. They're designed to help you understand where students are in relation to their current grade level.
Why use Benchmarks?
Benchmarks are just the first step in helping your students become motivated and engaged readers. Here are 4 reasons to use Benchmarks:
- Help Newsela (and you!) get a quick understanding of your students’ most comfortable reading range.
- Now that Newsela is adapted for your students, you can let them explore a library of more than 4,000 articles with the confidence that they’ll always be reading content within their reading range.
- Once your students start reading articles on Newsela on their own, you can use the Binder to learn more about your students' interests and reading habits. This will come in handy!
- Finally, come January and May, you can use Newsela’s Mid-Year and End-of-Year Benchmarks to see how your students’ reading skills have grown.
How do I use benchmarks?
Have students complete the benchmark 1 article at a time over the course of a week. We recommend spacing out these 30-minute sessions over the course of a week. For example, assign 1 article on Monday, 1 article on Wednesday and 1 article on Friday. Each of the these assignments will take about 30 minutes to complete. To assign, click your grade level. The day you'd like to assign the article, click "Assign". In order for the benchmark to be accurate, we recommend that students complete these articles independently.
Where do I see student results?
Your student results will be available in your Binder. Click in to the “Students” tab to see at a glance how your students are performing on each of the informational text anchor standards.
Does this measure skills mastery?
Every quiz that students take on Newsela, including those on benchmark articles, measure student mastery on reading comprehension skills.
How can I measure student growth?
Assigning the Back-to-School Benchmarks is just the first step to measuring student growth. One important aspect to measuring student growth is to assign 2 articles per week with Newsela. This will allow students the chance to practice and hone their skills, as well as providing you fresh insights into their performance every time they take a quiz.
There will also be Mid-Year and End-of-Year Benchmarks published in January and April, respectively. You can use your Binder to compare student performance on each of these benchmarks.
Can I assign different benchmarks to different students?
We highly recommend that you only assign the benchmark to your students that matches the grade level they are currently in.
How do benchmark assessments fit into best practices for teaching?
Research conducted over the past 30 years has demonstrated that when teachers use student progress monitoring, students learn more, teacher decision-making improves, and students become more aware of their own performance. (Deno, 2003; Fuchs, Deno, & Mirkin, 1984; Good & Jefferson, 1998). Benchmarks are the quickest way to put yourself and your students on the fast track to continually monitor student progress and adjust your instruction.