Teacher Toolbox
Learning Strategies - Reading

boy readingAssessment

Efficient reading requires children to understand the relationship between the sounds and the letters, maintain an adequate sight word base knowledge, understand the structure of language, and synthesize these skills. The purpose of reading is to gather information from the text. Children need to link words to their meaning and apply words to a context that makes sense to become efficient readers.

Difficulties in one or more of the areas can impact the child’s progress in learning to read. It is important to assess the child’s reading progress accurately in order to devise appropriate instructional methods and strategies to support the child in this process.

To assess reading, it is important to consider:

  • The child’s age and developmental profile
  • Does the child have any sensory impairment that could impact learning to read?
  • The child’s language functioning including vocabulary knowledge, comprehension, and recognition of sound boundaries in words
  • Formulating a specific question regarding the child’s difficulty in reading (such as does the child recognize and blend the individual sounds in words?)
  • The purpose of the reading assessment (e.g. to detect reading difficulties, to monitor progress, to assess general reading skills)

Once the purpose for the assessment is determined, the appropriate tools can be selected. 

To assess students reading in a classroom environment and to track their progress, the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Literacy Skills (DIBELS) is a valuable assessment tool, designed by the University of Oregon, that explores the elements needed for students to be efficient readers. 

The Concepts About Print observation task and the Observation Survey devised by Marie Clay are useful tools to assess young students’ understanding about print and to help explore their readiness for reading. Marie Clay’s books on literacy and on the reading program Reading Recovery are available at www.heinemann.com.

Another valuable resource that provides information about assessing children’s reading skills is the book Assessment for Reading Instruction by Michael C. McKenna and Steven A. Stahl.  This book provides guidance on how to select tools to assess the students as well as case studies of evaluations and programs devised from the gathered information.  The studies are based upon clinical use from the University of Georgia Reading Clinic.  The book is available at www.guilford.com.

Some students who have received a diagnosis of specific reading disability will require a structured, systematic approach to reading instruction tailored to their learning profile from a reading and/or language specialist.