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Classroom Management Methods to Assess Reading Levels

Janelle Cox

Reading comprehension assessments are the most common type of way that teachers use classroom management to assess a student’s reading level. Usually they consist of a child reading the teacher a small passage of text that is at the appropriate level for them, then the teacher asking the child a series of questions that is based upon the text that the child just read. There are many variations on reading comprehension assessments. Some teachers use classroom management methods of retelling rubrics instead of questions, while others use a “Cloze” technique where words are omitted throughout the passage to see if the child can fill the correct words in. Here is a quick guide to help you in the classroom management assessment process to make sure that you place students in the appropriate reading level.

Classroom Management: Assessing Students’ Reading Level

  1. To begin, have students read you benchmark passages or books. You can download either of these two at Reading A-Z if you don’t have anything available at your school, or if you are a home school teacher.
  2. While students are reading to you, you will be keeping a running record. A running record will help you gain information about your students’ reading strategies, their accuracy rate, error rate, self-correction rate, as well as how the student self-monitors. You can also print out this document on the site mentioned above as well.
  3. Next, you will have the student retell the passage or text that they just read to you in their own words. As they read to you, you will monitor them by using a retelling rubric to score their comprehension. This rubric usually is scored 1-4 (1 = little comprehension, 2 = some comprehension, 3 = adequate comprehension, 4 = good comprehension).
  4. After the retelling strategy is used, some teachers like to give students an oral or written quiz. This will help you identify what skills students still need to develop.

How Often to Test Students?

According to Reading A-Z, students should be reading leveled books at their appropriate level, and should be choosing books below their current level for independent practice. As far as how often you should test and retest students, early emergent readers should be tested every 2-4 weeks, emergent readers every 4-6 weeks, early fluent readers every 6-8 weeks, and fluent readers every 8-10 weeks. Students who are not progressing regularly should be tested more frequently.

The running record and retelling rubric data will also give you valuable information and insight into each students reading comprehension and behavior.

When Can I Move a Child Up a Level?

According to research, if a child scores a 95 or higher on their running record, you can move them up one leveled book. If they score between a 94-90, then you can assess again, and keep them on their current level. If they score below a 90, then you should assess them again and take them down a level. The retelling rubric and any other tests that you conduct can have a significant impact on if a child moves up, down, or stays at a level. You will have to look at all of the data that was taken, in order to make an informed decision.

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Other Reading Assessment Techniques

Other reading assessment techniques can be conducted in conjunction with the measures listed above. Here are a few alternatives.

Language Comprehension

Language comprehension can be measured the same way reading comprehension can. The only difference is that the student doesn’t read the text, the teacher verbally reads to the child. It is also suggested that a child’s language and reading comprehension should be compared so that the understanding of the text is not limited in any way by the child’s ability to understand language.

Decoding

A child can be tested on his accuracy, fluency, and/or level of words that he can actually decode. To assess students on decoding, the teacher can present words to the student one at a time. The student would then be instructed to read the word so that the teacher can see what strategies the student uses to decode each word.

Semantics

A child can also be assessed on the semantics of a word. This refers to the meaning of the word or its “Whole parts.” There are several different ways that you can assess semantics, but the most common is to use pictures. The teacher can give students a series of pictures and instruct them to sequence them or explain what each one means.

Assessment is used to measure the development of a child’s reading skills. There are many ways to assess a child, and the strategies mentioned above are just a few of the most common and effective methods that most teachers use. It is ultimately up to you to determine how you and your school district will assess your students’ reading level.

What is your favorite way to assess your students reading comprehension? Do you use any of the methods listed above? Please share your responses in the comment section below, we would love to hear your techniques.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.