How to Prep for FSA: Valuable Tips for 5th Grade ELA

Soon testing will be here, and teachers want to make sure they have covered as many of the standards as possible. The 5th grade ELA standards are a pretty big step up in reading expectations. The good news is that teachers and reading coaches can focuses on a few specific skills that will really help prepare students for the FSA tests.  This blog post will break down the reading and language arts standards and how they are tested on the FSA.

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 5th 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.

As always, students are expected to be reading and spelling on grade level. Judging from the practice tests, the reading passages will be about one and a half pages, single spaced, 14 - 16 sized font. Overall, students are expected to draw inferences from their reading. Supporting answers with text evidence is not a skill new to fifth grade students, but it is something that they should be doing regularly. Students should come to fifth grade with some ability in using text -based evidence. However, the skill should be increased to providing reasoning for implicit answers. Teachers need to push students to answer inference-based questions and have students explain what part of the text led them to their response.

Students should be prepared to have 2-3 texts for prompts. They should be able to integrate information and compare characters, setting, organization, etc. of multiple texts. The great majority of reading standards ask students to compare two or more ideas/traits and/or at least two texts. Two texts may be a written text and an audio or multimedia presentation. In general, these standards are preparing students for the future. As students are expected to research and write reports, they will need to be able to use multiple sources and combined the information into one report. That is really what these standards are preparing students to do.  To practice these skills, teachers could do mini-units focused on one topic or theme, as well as research projects.

Fifth grade vocabulary is really just building upon what they already know. The categories of terms are basically the same as fourth grade, but fifth graders should be exposed to even more figurative language. Students are also expected to use context clues to determine the meaning of words and phrases.

The grammar expectations again just build upon what they already know.  Each year students focus on a different verb tense - in fifth grade they add the perfect verb tenses. They are also expected to be able to select the appropriate tense for their writing and write in one tense. Students should already know a lot about conjunctions, but now they should learn correlative conjunctions (ex. rather/than, either/or). The fifth grade standards also emphasize the various uses for commas.

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 roots
  • Figurative language, including similes and metaphors
  • Common idioms, adages, and proverbs
  • Synonyms, antonyms, and homographs
  • Multiple-meaning words and phrases and use context clues to determine their meanings.

Grammar

  • correlative conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections
  • perfect verb tenses (I had walked, I have walked, I will have walked)
  • Use. verb tenses to convey times, sequences, states, and conditions.
  • Recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb tense.
  • Use punctuation to separate items in a series.
  • Use commas to separate introductory elements from the rest of the sentence.
  • Use comma to set off words yes and no and to indicate direct address.
  • Use underlining, quotation marks, or italics to indicate titles of words.

Reading

  • Use phrases and sentences from a text to explain what the text states.
  • Use details from a text to determine the theme.
  • Explain how visual or multimedia elements affect the meaning, tone, or beauty of the text.
  • Summarize an audio or multimedia presentation.
  • Summarize the points a speaker makes and explain how each claim is supported by reasons and evidence.
  • Summarize a text as a whole or to identify key events to be included in a summary.
  • Identify main ideas and use details from the text to support the main ideas identified.
  • Use details from a text to compare and contrast 2+ characters, settings, or events.
  • Explain the relationships or interactions between 2+ individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text using information from the text.
  • Explain the purpose of specific sentences, paragraphs, scenes, or stanzas and how they interact with each other.
  • Compare and contrast the overall structure of 2+ informational texts (chronology, comparison, cause/effect, and problem/solution).
  • Use details from a text to explain the impact that a narrator's or speaker's point of view has on the description of events.
  • Use details from the text to explain similarities and/or differences in accounts given of the same event or topic.
  • Explain the reasons and evidence the author uses to support particular points in a text.
  • Compare and contrast stories in the same genre on their approaches to similar themes and topics.
  • Integrate information from 2+ texts to make or support an inference drawn from the texts.
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 5th grade practice test seemed to use a wider variety of question types than previous years. The tests tend to use at least one of each type, but in fifth grade there were fewer multiple choice questions.  However, Multiple ChoiceEditing Task ChoiceEvidence-Based Selected Response (EBSR), Selectable Hot Text, and GRID questions were the most frequently used question types.  

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 5th Grade ELA
It may help 5th grade teachers to review what students should already know by the end of 4th grade. In my 4th grade FSA ELA blog post, I discussed those grade level expectations.  For a more indepth look at the types of questions used on the FSA tests, please see the 3rd grade post.

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