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Tool: Knowing students as readers and writers

One of the most important things teachers do at the beginning of the school year is get to know their students as learners. In literacy, teachers have different assessments they can use to help them understand their students as readers and writers. Here are some assessments you can use. Complete this chart to identify what type of data each assessment provides and what that data tells you (and does not tell you) about your students.

Assessment
Type of information provided
What this information tells me about my students
What this information does not tell me about my students

Informal reading inventory

     

Reading word list(s)

     

Concepts about print

     

Retelling

     

Reading and/or writing
interest/motivation survey

     

Running record

     

Letter and sound inventory

     

Writing sample generated from a prompt

     

Sentence dictation

     

Spelling Inventory

     

Other assessments you have used or seen:

     

Where to find assessments:

  1. Ask your principal, reading coach, and/or fellow grade-level teachers what assessments are required at the beginning of the year and ask for an informational session on how to administer, score and interpret the results of these assessments.
  2. Ask your principal, reading coach and/or fellow grade-level teachers what other assessments they like to use at the beginning of the year. Borrow the assessments and ask your resource to help you with how to administer, score and interpret the results of the assessments.

Here is the same chart as above with some examples of each assessment and ideas for where to find them:

Assessment Examples Where you can find it
Informal reading inventory Qualitative Reading Inventory (4th edition) Amazon
Reading word list(s) Part of Marie Clay’s Observation Survey Heinemann
Concepts about print Part of Marie Clay’s Observation Survey Heinemann
Retelling Have student read a text silently and then retell the story and/or ideas to you. Use any text appropriate for below, average and above grade-level expectations.
Reading motivation survey Motivation to Read Profile
by Linda Gambrell, Barbara Palmer, Rose Codling, Susan Mazzoni
The Reading Teacher (April, 1996)
Vol. 49 No. 7,
Pages 518-533.
The article contains the survey and interview questions for you to use.
Running record Have student read text aloud as you mark errors, self-corrections and correct words on a piece of paper. Use any text appropriate for below, average, and above grade-level expectations.
Letter and sound inventory Part of Marie Clay’s Observation Survey Heinemann
Writing sample generated from a prompt There are numerous prompts you can use. Just make sure the prompts you choose are appropriate for your grade level.

CanTeach

Sentence dictation Part of Marie Clay’s Observation Survey Heinemann
Spelling Inventory Qualitative Spelling Inventory Words their way: Word study for phonics, vocabulary, and spelling instruction by Donald Bear, Marcia Invernizzi, Shane Templeton and Francine Johnston

Key Words: reading, assessment, literacy, writing