How to Prep for FSA: Valuable Tips for 4th Grade ELA

This test prep season, prepare smarter not harder for FSA! In this post, I will unpack the 4th grade FSA English Language Arts (ELA) test specifications and analyze the 4th grade Florida standards. This will help both teachers and parents make sure their students are ready to take the state tests.

How to Prep for FSA: Valuable Tips for 5th Grade ELA - This post unpacks the 5th grade ELA FSA test and standards and discusses which concepts to focus on during your test review.

This blog post may also be beneficial for teachers in other states as well. If your state takes the AIR exam, FSA was modeled on that test. In addition our state standards are 99% identical to the Common Core state standards.

What Does FSA Cover in 4th Grade ELA?

The Florida Assessments Portal has the test item specifications available for the public. These are a great tool for parents and teachers, but they do take a lot of time to analyze and break down.

Of course, students are expected to be working on reading and spelling at the fourth grade reading level. Judging from the practice tests, the reading passages will be about one and a half pages, single spaced, 14 - 16 sized font. In addition, most of the skills are integrated into reading. For example, editing tasks are now done right in a paragraph. Some of the reading questions have students select a sentence from 1 - 2 paragraphs taken from the text. If teachers are not beginning to practice in this format, I recommend highly that they begin using practice activities like this so students are familiar with the testing styles.

The four sections of FSA ELA are weighted nearly the same.
  • Key Ideas and Details - 15 - 25%
  • Craft and Structure - 25 - 35%
  • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas - 20 - 30%
  • Language and Editing - 15 - 25%
So what exactly do those four topics cover?  The sections are based upon the Florida standards (basically the CCSS).
How to Prep for FSA: Valuable Tips for 5th Grade ELA - This post unpacks the 5th grade ELA FSA test and standards and discusses which concepts to focus on during your test review.

Vocabulary

  • Greek and Latin affixes and base words. I have searched for a list, and what I found suggested for 4th grade was: under-, over-, non-, pre-, bi-, tri-, quad-, oct-, -ion/tion/ation/sion, -ness, -ment, -ly, and -er/or
  • Similes and metaphors
  • Common idioms, adages, and proverbs
  • Synonyms and antonyms
  • Words and phrases that allude to mythological characters

Grammar

  • Relative pronouns and relative adverbs
  • Progressive verb tense
  • Modal auxiliaries
  • Placing adjectives in the correct order
  • Prepositional phrases
  • Recognize and correct fragments and run-on sentences
  • Frequently confused words (homophones)
  • Commas and quotation marks for direct speech and quotations from a text
  • Commas before coordinating conjunctions in compound sentences

Reading

  • Answer comprehension questions that may or may not include inferences.
  • Determine the theme.
  • Determine the main idea and supporting details.
  • Summarize a story or text.
  • Use details to describe a character, setting, or events.
  • Use details to explain an event, procedure, idea, or concept.
  • Compare the structural elements of a poem and a drama.
  • Describe the structure of a text or part of a text (chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution).
  • Compare the points of view in two or more texts (first and third person).
  • Compare and/or contrast firsthand and secondhand accounts of the same event or topic in two or more texts, including differences in focus and information.
  • Make connections between the text of a story or drama and a visual or oral presentation.
  • Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively and explain how they contribute to understanding the text.
  • Explain how the author uses reasons and evidence to support points in a nonfiction text.
  • Compare and contrast similar themes, topics, and patterns of events from 2 or more texts from different cultures. The texts should focus on similar themes or topics.
  • Synthesize information from two nonfiction texts on the same topic.
  • Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or presented in diverse formats.
  • Identify the reasons and evidence a speaker provides as support for particular points on a nonfiction topic.
I noticed that the standards frequently refer to Greek and Latin, as well as cultural stories. Even the practice test focused on folk tales. Teachers should not focus solely on myths and folk tales, but they should be sure to include them during the year. Students are also expected to understand words that allude to mythological characters, such as Herculean or the Midas touch. As it is difficult to understand those terms without the stories, teachers may want to use the stories as read alouds or include a unit on Greek myths.

Question Types

The 4th grade test is very similar to the 3rd grade test as far as which of the nine question types are used most frequently. By far, Multiple Choice was the most used on both the paper-based and computer-based practice tests. Editing Task Choice is another question type teachers should definitely practice. Evidence-Based Selected Response (EBSR) was also used multiple times on both practice tests. GRID questions were used twice on the computer-based practice test. All other question types were used one time. Keep in mind that the frequency of these question types are not guaranteed on future tests, so teachers will want to make sure students have seen all of the formats. However, I would focus on being very familiar with these four in particular.

Resources

The state does have a few resources available for teachers and parents. On the website is a practice test in both paper-based and computer-based formats. Other than that, it is difficult to find test-specific practice resources. I do have a few resources available in my TPT store.
How to Prep for FSA: Valuable Tips for 4th Grade ELA
It may help 4th grade teachers to review what students should already know by the end of 3rd grade. In my 3rd grade FSA ELA blog post, I discussed those grade level expectations, as well as all of the types of questions that are used on the FSA tests.

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