Last year, DRA was used as our “standardised” method to assess all of our students’ reading ability and to generate meaningful data that was used to get a big picture of reading ability in the school, to inform our planning, to set student goals and to help us group our students for a number of purposes, such as literature circles and guided reading. Everybody agreed on two things: (1) DRA is a fantastic resource that provides us with powerful assessment information that most other forms of standardised assessment do not; and (2) it is extremely time-consuming.

Now that we have all used DRA and have had experience with how effective it is as a diagnostic and planning tool for assessment I am sure that many people will continue to use it as a resource in their teaching. We will certainly continue to make sure we are resourced, kept up-to-date with DRA developments and that it is suggested as a tool for different purposes in the future. It is important that our efforts, energy and money are not wasted by just “abandoning” DRA!!!

However, the decision was made to use Probe as the assessment tool that we all do in order to generate the data that gives us a big picture of reading in the school and that we can keep track of from year to year. People who have worked with Probe and DRA argue that Probe is a very quick method of gathering similar data to the data we can gather with DRA, but that DRA does go into much greater depth (no doubt because it’s more time-consuming!).

We will start the process of “up-skilling” everybody on how to use Probe in the not-too-distant future and I am hoping to involve some people who have used it before in this process.

If you have used Probe before, please make a comment to tell us who you are so that I can come and see you very soon. Don’t worry, I’m not going to pile loads of work on your shoulders!