Reading Assessment Guidelines
Taking a Running Record
Running records are taken most often at the earlier stages of reading. Students who are
not progressing at the expected rate should be assessed even more frequently than the
schedule suggested below.
Early Emergent readers (Levels aa – C): every 2 to 4 weeks
Emergent readers (Levels D – J): every 4 to 6 weeks
Early fluent readers (Levels K – P): every 6 to 8 weeks
Fluent readers (Levels Q – Z): every 8 to 10 weeks
Taking a running record takes practice. Before attempting a running record, read the
procedural steps below, then go to the section on Marking a Running Record Form.
1. Select a book that approximates the student's reading level. Explain that she/he
will read out loud as you observe and record her/his reading skills.
2. With the running record form in hand, sit next to the student so that you can see
the text and the student's finger and eye movements as she/he reads the text.
3. As the student reads, mark each word on the running record form by using the
appropriate Running Record Symbols and Marking Conventions shown below.
Place a checkmark above each word that is read correctly.
4. If the student reads incorrectly, record above the word what the student reads.
5. If the student is reading too fast for you to record the running record, ask her/him
to pause until you catch up.
6. Be sure to pay attention to the reader's behavior. Is the student using meaning
(M), structural (S), and visual (V) cues to read words and gather meaning?
7. Intervene as little as possible while the student is reading.
8. If the student is stuck and unable to continue, wait 5 to 10 seconds, then tell
her/him the word. If the student seems confused, provide an explanation to clear
up the confusion and say, "Try again."
Student Talk
After the reading, talk to the student about some of the things she or he did during the
reading. Reinforce and praise certain behavior with comments and questions that focus
on specific behaviors. For example, after the student reads the text, you might focus on a
self-correction and ask, "How did you know it was people and not persons?"
Reading Observation Checklist
In addition to the things revealed by the running record and retelling, there are other
behaviors you should be identifying. The behaviors to look for will vary with the reading
level. They include the following:
Does the student have mastery of directionality, one-to-one correspondence,
return sweep, and so forth?
Did the errors made by the student make sense or sound right?
Did the student attempt to self-correct?
Did the student use the meaning, structure, and visual cues to identify words and
get meaning from the text? Did she or he use them in an integrated way, or did
she or he rely heavily on one particular source of information?
Did the student make an attempt to read a word before asking for your help?
How was the student's fluency? Did she or he just word-call?
Did the student seem to recognize phrases?
Were there many pauses? Were the pauses lengthy?
How was the student's expression or intonation?
Other Uses of Running Records
You can use a blank running record form to perform a running record assessment on a
non-benchmark book, or if you want to assess a reader's accuracy for the entire text of a
book. The running record form that accompanies each benchmark book only tests the first
100 to 150 words of the text. You can do a guided reading assessment by taking a
running record using a book that you believe is close to the student's developmental
Assessing students' reading progress is key to moving them along at the proper
developmental rate. The combination of information gained from analyzing a running
record, qualitative analysis, and a student's retelling will help you select the appropriate
book level for a student's reading instruction and/or practice. Remember, it does the
reader little good to be placed at a reading level that is too difficult. Running records will
help you match students with the appropriate level of reading materials
Guidelines for Administering Benchmark Quick Checks
Before administering the Benchmark Quick Check Quiz, administer the Running
Record portion of the Reading A-Z passage that you feel is nearest to the student's
instructional reading level.
If the student's accuracy rate on the Running Record is 90 percent or above, have
the student read the rest of the passage silently. When the student is finished
reading, administer the corresponding Benchmark Quick Check Quiz.
If the student's accuracy rate is below 90 percent accuracy on the Running
Record, continue to work with the child at the current level before returning to the
Benchmark Quick Check Quiz.
Mark a correct answer on the Benchmark Quick Check Quiz with a plus. If the
student answers incorrectly, write what the student said and mark a minus. You
can give half credit if the student begins to answer the question but does not
support it with details from the text or from his or her own thinking.
Comprehension involves the ability to remember what one reads, to think about it,
and to react. There are three types of comprehension questions: text-based,
inferential, and critical response. Each question is labeled. After the student has
answered all of the questions, mark the Comprehension Analysis chart at the top
right of the page with the number of correct (plus) answers. Example: If the
student correctly answers three out of the four text-based questions, mark a 3 on
that line. Calculate the appropriate Comprehension Level by dividing the total
points scored in all categories by the total points available in all categories. Circle
the appropriate Comprehension Level.
The answers given on the comprehension question sheets are possible correct
answers. If the student responds in a way that answers the question, but is not
listed as a possible answer, use your professional judgment and mark it
appropriately. If the question has asked for one example from the text and there is
more than one possible answer, any one of those answers is sufficient. The
student does not need to list them all. However, if the question specifically asks
for two examples, then two must be stated. Keep in mind you can give half credit.
If students can state opinions for critical responses but are unable to discuss or
support them, then the response is considered inadequate and would only receive
half credit.