Problem of the Week: Deciphering DRA Decoding

This is the time of year were my team is working thought DRA's for their SLO (Student Learning Objectives) and figuring out what they are going to do when we come back from Spring Break.


A question teacher's have been asking is what to do with the DRA rubric after they are scored. How do you use the information to plan instruction and next steps? (I always tell teachers to use the data they have to collect or they have created first before trying to figure out else they may need.)


When you look at a DRA rubric it is broken into two parts: oral reading (decoding and fluency and comprehension.) 

For this student, I co-planned with his classroom teacher and we decided to start with decoding. For this week's POW, I'll walk you through why we decided to spend our time there first. (Next, week I'll talk about the comprehension part of the rubric and our plans.)

This student student's DRA score is Decoding--Intervention and Instructional--Comprehension.  Ahhyy!  In this case, group the student down NOT up or with instructional leveled peers. This means something in their skill set as a decoder needs some more work which will be easier in an easier text where the student has the confidence to be.

I use highlighters to break down the student errors: decodable (aka:phonics) and sight words. This information helps me differentiate and target his specific reading needs.

In his case he needs to work on using his decoding strategies and build his sight word knowledge. I think n most cases pulling the student into the next lower reading group--in his case working with a group of instructional DRA H/14s will provide him with decoding practice skills he needs to move into 16s and be successful.

In my building, everyone uses the same sight words list. Data collection shows he knows the first 200 and is working on the next 100 but with this information he needs to add 400 and 500 he needs to become familiar with.

I do this in my lesson plans daily before writing. Each group spends two minutes running through vocabulary they struggle with. This includes sight words needed to access text, text specific vocabulary, and any universally missed words I heard while the group is reading. This stack is meant to just add to their word knowledge. Word mastery is at the beginning of the lesson.

I have included two freebies I use when working on phonics and make sure students are meeting expectations. If you need to sign-up to access my Free Resource Library click here.




Psst: The sight word list we use are in my store here and to support RTI here.





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Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.
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