This with the running records, you will

This lesson will give definition, examples and analysis of running records used to assess student reading skills.

A short quiz will follow to test your knowledge.

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Running Records

Data collection and analysis allows teachers to make informed decisions about their students’ academic progress. This is why teachers use running records, which are tools that allow instructors to keep tracks of their students’ progress and identify patterns in their reading behavior as students are developing their reading and comprehension skills. Many teachers may prefer running records because they are fairly easy to administer and do not require extended periods of time to measure student reading behaviors.The running record is used to collect and analyze information about students’ reading abilities, specifically their error and self-correction rates. Examples of common reading errors include mispronouncing words, skipping words or sentences or adding words. You, as the teacher, would document these errors as the students are reading and record their accuracy rate on the running record form.

Each time you assess students, you would record the information and observe whether the student is making progress and what additional support may be needed for those students who are not making growth in their reading skills.


Baseline data is information you will gather about your students at the very beginning of the school year that gives you an idea about each student’s current level of reading performance. You may want to give a baseline within the first couple of weeks of school, depending on how often you will assess your students throughout the school year. Some teachers administer three assessments during the year, then also give periodic progress monitoring assessments. How often you decide to test your students will likely depend on whether more frequent monitoring is needed, especially for students who are demonstrating reading difficulties.

Time may also be a factor, particularly if you are already crunched for time, so frequent progress monitoring may not be possible based on your schedule.

Materials Needed

Before you begin the task of assessing your students with the running records, you will need a few basic materials in order to get started:

  • Stopwatch or inexpensive kitchen timer to record your students’ start and stop times.
  • Books or passages on different reading levels to accommodate students’ present levels of performance. You may want to think about starting with a shorter passage in the beginning and gradually working your way to longer passages.
  • Running record forms.

    You will need multiple copies, so be sure to make enough for your entire class.

Assessing Student Performance

Students will be expected to read a set amount of words during the time limit that you, as the assessor, have determined. For example, you may decide that your third grade students need to read at least 100 words from a third-grade level passage in one minute in order to demonstrate proficiency, or successful ability.Students will be expected to read the selected text aloud without attempting to rush through it. You will want to explain the procedure to them prior to the reading without assuming that they already know what to do.

For example, you may say ‘Today you will read aloud the passage in front of you. I will tell you when to start and stop. Do the best you can without rushing to finish reading.’ This tells your students exactly what you expect of them and it puts them at ease knowing that they are not required to race through the reading because they fear getting a bad grade or penalty.As the students read the given text, you will follow along with them with your own copy of what they are reading. You will mark any mispronunciations, word exclusions or other errors on the copy that you are using, so make sure to have a copy for each student. When each student completes the reading of the text, you will take the total number of words read and subtract the number of errors the student made.

This number would then be documented on the running record as the number of words read correctly.Once the students have finished reading the text, you may ask them to retell what took place in the passage in order to assess their comprehension. Once you score the test, you will be able to determine students’ individual instructional reading level.

Example of a Running Record

Let’s say you, as the teacher, had your kindergarten students reading Mary had a little lamb whose fleece was white as snow. There are 11 words in this sentence and one of your students says ‘lame’ instead of lamb and omits the word fleece. In this case, your student has read 11 words with two errors.

You would subtract the two errors from the number 11, which gives you nine. You would record that this student read nine words.The same process would be used if you had your students read a 100 word passage in one minute.

If you have a student that reads only 10 words and missed three of those words, then you would subtract three from 10 and get seven words read. In this example, you may want to also look at whether the passage may have been too difficult for the student, given the fact that she was only able to read seven words in the time allotted for 100 words.

Lesson Summary

Teachers use running records to collect and analyze information over time about their students’ reading abilities based on reading errors and self-correction rates. These records allow you to determine whether your students are making adequate progress and whether additional support is needed for those students who are not making growth in their reading skills.


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