What are the mid-year ranges?
The developers of PALS recommend examining mid-year scores for individual tasks in relation to fall scores to determine the extent to which individual children are progressing, and whether current instruction for a particular student needs to be adjusted or intensified. The PALS mid-year ranges have been developed to help with this process.
Students reading on or above grade level at the end of the school year typically scored within these ranges at mid-year. However, this does not guarantee that students scoring within these ranges at mid-year will be reading on grade level by the end of the year–continued effective classroom instruction matters!
Because children learn and acquire literacy skills at very different rates throughout the school year, PALS provides mid-year ranges for progress monitoring rather than a single score for comparison.
Why not a benchmark for the mid-year window?
Benchmarks represent minimum competencies used for screening rather than for progress monitoring. Mid-Year is a progress-monitoring window, not a screening/identification window. The Summed Score benchmarks in the fall and spring windows are for identifying students at risk for reading difficulty (screening), whereas Mid-Year is for (1) checking to make sure intervention is working for those students, by referring to the ranges, and (2) updating information about all students’ strengths and needs, to help teachers plan spring semester instruction.
We know that the ideal goal is to see students performing at or above grade level by the end of the school year, not just meeting minimum competencies in each skill. The PALS Mid-Year Ranges for grades K-3 show the range of scores typical for students who are on track to be reading on grade level by the end of the school year. They represent higher expectations than the fall/spring benchmarks, which represent minimum competencies.
How should we use the mid-year ranges?
Teachers and reading specialists should use the mid-year ranges in conjunction with their own knowledge of each student to evaluate whether a particular student’s score reflects a pace of improvement that is adequate to ensure grade level performance by spring, or whether intervention needs to be adjusted or intensified.
Students who were identified in the fall as being at-risk for a reading difficulty should not be removed from intervention based on mid-year scores, even if their scores fall within the mid-year ranges. PALS strongly recommends that these students get a full year of intervention to make sure they are truly on solid ground before removing support. The mid-year ranges predict grade-level performance presuming the student continues to receive effective, differentiated instruction.
Conversely, students who were NOT identified by PALS in the fall, but who do not score within these ranges at mid-year, should receive additional instruction as soon as possible.