An Observation Survey is a number of tasks that are individually administered to a student to find out what the student knows. Classroom teachers sometimes use the Observation Survey in the Prep to Year 2 classes.
Reading Recovery teachers give their students the Observation Survey a number of times a year to check on progress. A student will usually take part in the Survey at the beginning of the year, at the beginning of Reading Recovery, at the end of Reading Recovery, and at the end of the year.
The Observation Survey includes six literacy tasks, all of which describe a young child’s developing reading and writing behaviours:
- Letter Identification to determine which letters the child knows and the preferred way of identification (by name or by sound or by a word that begins with the letter)
- Word Tests to determine if the child is building a number of already-known words (words recognised straight away)
- Concepts About Print to determine what the child knows about the way spoken language is represented in print (where to look, direction, difference between letters and words, punctuation)
- Writing Vocabulary to determine if the child is building a number of known words that can be written in every detail (spelt correctly straight away)
- Hearing and Recording Sounds in Words to assess phonemic awareness by determining how the child represents sounds within words when writing (can the student hear the parts of a word and can he/she choose appropriate letters to represent those sounds, and can the student write the letters?)
- Text Reading to determine an appropriate level of text difficulty and to record what the child does when reading continuous text using a running record. (A running record is taken to find a reading level that is not too easy, or too hard, but is just right for the student. The teacher is observing and recording what the student does to solve words, e.g. rereading, taking a word apart st-op, searching the picture.)