My teaching year begins this week, so I will have new Reading Intervention students as well as catching up with some from last year. I will be assessing the students’ reading levels, using levelled books/reading sheets and taking running records, as well as using other tests.
Running records are very valuable for getting a quick overview of the strategies children use as they read, and for picking up areas needing to be worked on.
You can use unfamiliar text (but always tell the child the title), or you can use familiar text or introduced text. I prefer to use unfamiliar text but I will do a quick introduction with the main story line, names and any difficult or unfamiliar vocabulary or expressions used in the text.
Here is a blank Running Record form that you can download, print and copy. You just need to use a tick for each word the child reads correctly; write in words that the child gets wrong (errors = E) and self-corrections (= SC). Note if the child repeats words or phrases.
In the E and SC columns (if there are any errors or self-corrections on the line), note the strategies the child used to attempt to decode the troublesome words: M = using the meaning in the text/pictures; S = using the structure in the text/sentence/phrase; V = using visual information (the letters in the words, guessing a similar-looking word).
Work out the ‘accuracy’ as a percentage: You need have an idea of how many words you have recorded on the record. If you have recorded 100 words, or 150, it’s easy to work out the percentage of errors (you don’t need to count self-corrections here, and an error with a names is only counted once, even if the error is repeated).
If you have a text with fewer than 60 words or with a lot of repetition, you may want to do a couple of texts to give a better idea of the child’s skills.
Once you have worked out the percentage of errors, you can subtract that number from 100 to get the ‘accuracy’, and you can grade the text as
Easy - 95% accuracy or better
Instructional – 90-94% accuracy
Difficult – less than 90% accuracy.
Note general strategies used and if there is a mix of M, S and V; also if more than one strategy is used to ‘cross-check’ when decoding a word. Pace, phrasing, expression and fluency are all worth noting.
It can also be useful to note if the child is reversing words, using a finger to point (using left/right hand -or both), or showing any indicators of possible problems such articulation difficulties, missed words/lines, face very close to the page, etc.
You may want to circle (or note on the back of the page) any areas to follow up with your teaching or referrals to specialists.
Remember that one running record is only one glimpse of the child’s reading ability, and more testing will be needed, but a good running record at Instructional level (or a little harder) can quickly and easily give you quite a lot of information and it’s a handy record to keep for future comparisons.