How to Prep for FSA: Valuable Tips for 6th Grade ELA



It is never too soon for language arts teachers and reading coaches to begin planning for the FSA exams! Sixth grade reading standards expect student to go beyond mere comprehension of the reading, but also to understand the craft of writing. Understanding what the students are expected to do will help teachers and parents make sure their students are learning the skills they need to be successful not only on the state exams, but also in future classes. 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 6th Grade ELA - This post unpacks the 6th 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 and parents 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 6th 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 are longer and denser than previous grades. The passages will probably be be about one and a half  to two pages, single spaced, 14 - 16 sized font. Overall, students are expected to draw inferences from their reading. In sixth grade, students are expected to move past merely citing text evidence to being able to analyze the text. Students should be able to make inferences from the text and explains what part of the text made them come to that conclusion. Also, readers are expected to understand how the author builds the story or topic using words and structural elements. Students are learning how a story or text is crafted to create meaning.

Also important, students are expected to build comprehension and integration of multiple texts on the same theme or topic.  For example, students should be able to take a poem and a realistic fiction story with a similar theme and compare how the authors' approach the theme.

Sixth grade students should build their research and critical thinking skills . Students should also be able to compare two nonfiction texts on the same topic. They should also be able to identify which claims are supported by evidence and from those which aren't. Students should also be able to use the same skills in reading a text or listening to a multimedia presentation - or comparing the two.

Vocabulary is really just building upon what they already know. The categories of terms are basically the same as fourth and fifth grade, but sixth graders should be exposed to high level words.

Grammar standards for sixth grade focus heavily on pronouns.  Students should understand subject, objective, and possessive cases, as well as intensive pronouns.  They should also be able to recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in pronoun person or number, as well as vague pronouns with unclear antecedents.

Aside from pronouns, the standards focus on using Standard English and nonrestrictive elements.  

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 6th Grade ELA - This post unpacks the 6th 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
  • Multiple-meaning words and phrases and use context clues to determine their meanings.

Grammar

  • Use the subjective, objective, and possessive pronoun cases.
  • Use intensive pronouns.
  • Recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in pronoun person and number.
  • Recognize and correct vague pronoun person with unclear or ambiguous antecedents.

Reading

  • Cite text-based evidence and make inferences from text.
  • Determine theme or central idea and how it is conveyed through key ideas.
  • Summarize part or all of a text.
  • Use details from a text to  explain how a character responds as the plot unfolds.
  • Use details from a text to explain how an individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, or elaborated in a text.
  • Analyze the purpose of specific sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and sections of a nonfiction text.
  • Analyze how specific structural elements of nonfiction text work together and/or help to develop ideas.
  • Explain strategies an author uses to develop the point of view or a narrator or speaker.
  • Determine the author's point of view or purpose in a text.
  • Explain the strategies an author uses to convey point of view or purpose.
  • Trace or evaluate the argument or claims in a section of a text or entire text.  Distinguish claims that are supported by evidence form those that aren't.
  • Using texts from different genres, analyze similarities and difference in how the texts approach similar themes or topics.
  • Determine similarities and differences in two authors' presentations of the same event, using explicit details.
  • Analyze the similarities and differences between reading a text and experiencing the multimedia version.
  • Integrate information from different media or formats in order to make a statement on a topic and explain how it contributes to the topic, issue, or text under study.
  • Delineate a speaker's argument and specific claims, distinguishing claims that are supported by reason s and evidence from claims that are not.

Question Types

The 6th grade practice tests use the question types more evenly than in other grades. Like fifth grade, there were fewer multiple choice questions on the sixth grade tests.  However, Multiple ChoiceEditing Task Choice, and Drag and Drop were the most common question types on the practice tests.  Evidence-Based Selected Response (EBSR), Selectable Hot Text, and Multiselect questions were the also used more than one time.  Please keep in mind that question types may vary from year to year.

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 6th Grade ELA
It may help 6th grade teachers to review what students should already know by the end of 5th grade. In my 5th 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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