The Department of Public Instruction, under the 2011 Wisconsin Act 166 (commonly referred to as "Read to Lead"), was required to choose an assessment of reading readiness for kindergarteners that would be given annually by all public schools, starting in the 2012-13 school year. DPI selected the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening-Kindergarten (PALS-K) assessment developed by the University of Virginia.
The Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) is a research based screening, diagnostic, and progress monitoring tool for students in grades 4K through 1st grade (expanding to also include 2nd grade in the 2014-15 school year). Wisconsin teachers use PALS to identify students at risk of developing reading difficulties, diagnose students' knowledge of literacy fundamentals, monitor progress, and plan instruction that targets students' needs. In addition to these uses, PALS data may play other roles in the education of students. This document identifies the main uses for PALS data and suggests situations where the use of PALS data should be limited.
As a librarian you might serve as a resource for parents and educators in regard to PALS. Specifically, you may be asked for assistance in understanding or information about the four main components of the assessment: phonological awareness, alphabetical knowledge, concept of word, and grapheme-phoneme correspondence. It is a good idea to show your awareness of PALS and support of early literacy to families with young children and your local school district. It is also important to recognize the role and limits of PALS data.