One of my biggest concerns is the trend for Term 1 to become the assessment term. No one seems to have any time anymore to do any teaching because we are all gathering data. Don't get me wrong, I am a firm believer in data driven, evidence based teaching.
But, I can well remember my own efforts in my Year 5 classroom trying to find time for 27 running record type assessments in the first 3 weeks, always looking to squeeze in one more assessment and putting the rest of the class on auto pilot. I know what it did to my head and I know what it did to the start of the new school year. I compromised my laying down of the foundation for an exciting year and setting the boundaries for behaviour and learning. No time to enjoy the kids and get them excited about their new year with me.
So this is what happened - I didn't do it anymore. No reading assessment for the first 6 weeks.
Here's my reasoning. The best data you can get in the first 6 weeks is the data from the end of the previous year. That should have been when they were at the top of their game. Testing them in the first 6 weeks of a new year is actually a waste of time because you are going to get false results. Hello - they have been on holiday for 6 weeks.
So, if you can get away with it, spend your first six weeks setting up the learning environment and get some teaching happening as quickly as possible. Teach them some generic follow-up activities so that once you make a start on guided reading groups you have already established an independent (quiet) work ethic. Use the previous year's data to form groups about Week 4. New students who come with no data came be slotted into an existing group and before you know it, with the SharpReading approach, you will have good formative data to help you adjust groups where needed.