What do those informal classroom reading test scores mean

What Do Those Informal Classroom Reading Test Scores Mean?

Struggling reader

PART 2: Reading Tests & Parent Involvement:
Informal Reading Test Assessments/Screens.

Reading is a learned skill.  We are not born with the natural ability to read!

What do those informal classroom reading test scores mean?


  • Are you receiving any progress reports, other than report cards, from your child’s teacher about their reading ability level?
  • How often does your child’s teacher communicate about your child’s reading ability level?
  • Do you know how often a reading screen is performed on your child?
  • Has your child’s teacher communicated to you about any informal reading assessments/screens that they use on a regular basis in the classroom?
  • Do you know what the reading process is?
  • Has your child’s teacher ever explained the reading process to you?

DISCLAIMER:  I am not offering clinical diagnosis or intervention with this blog.  I am however, available to clarify any questions you might have regarding your child’s reading process and any reading struggles they may be experiencing.  Please Contact me at kr*****@ww*.com.

Most ‘standardized’ tests are administered once a year, preferably in the spring.

  • Q: Why the second half of the school year?
  • A: So there is time to teach the material and skills that will be tested. How many times have you heard the controversy about ‘teaching to the test’?  High stakes testing?  I am not proposing to debate the need for standardized testing.  Perhaps less emphasis is in order, but…there is a need and value to such testing.  My concern as a Reading Specialist is that testing a child just once a year using a generalized assessment is NOT the best tool to guide instruction for your child’s needs, especially if they are a struggling reader.

All students need to be monitored on a frequent basis for their reading success.  Parents, I again emphasize that YOU are your child’s first responder and team captain of their ‘Reading Success Team.’  I am offering an overview to you as their team captain, for working with other members of your child’s team inclusive of their classroom teacher, reading specialist if applicable, or school intervention team/school study team, if applicable, and the child’s primary care/pediatrician. 

Just as it would not be appropriate for your boss to determine your employment with the company based on just one performance day per year, so too is it not a complete look at a child’s reading performance with one test per year!

Multiple measures of your child’s reading ability are necessary in a school year.  Enter, informal reading assessment or screens, as they are often referred to.  These are usually ‘criterion referenced’ tools that are used on a frequent basis throughout the year.  Some teachers may perform a weekly screen on every student and for others this may be a monthly approach.  At a minimum, these types of assessments should be completed three times per school year…PRE (beginning of the school year), MID (middle of the school year usually before winter break), and POST (end of school year prior to summer break).

My purpose here is to give insight into this tool and emphasize and encourage you as parents in your role in informal reading assessment to monitor your own child’s reading growth and reading ability level.  I want you to know what do those informal classroom reading test scores mean. As much as we might shout out that this is the responsibility of my child’s school and teacher and that “I pay taxes for this service”! Speaking from experience, I know there are not enough hours in a school day for one teacher to achieve this ‘ideal’ frequency and consistency for every child in their classroom!  Sorry, just speaking the facts.

“Criterion-referenced tests and assessments are designed to measure student performance against a fixed set of predetermined learning standards” or benchmarks. [http://edglossary.org/learning-standards ]  At the elementary level, benchmarks are written descriptions of what students are expected to know and be able to demonstrate mastery of for a specific body of knowledge, or demonstrate they have acquired a specific skill set, by age and grade level.

Now, there are more formalized “high stakes” criterion-referenced tests:  What do those informal classroom reading test scores mean?

  • NAEP
  • Advanced Placement Tests
  • DIBELS in lower elementary grades

PARENTS:  What I want to draw your attention to here, are the “low stakes” criterion-referenced screens that really provide a more in-depth look at specific skill sets that are strong or need strengthening.  Your child’s successful reading process is made up of many underlying skill sets [of which many involve underlying brain processes also] that when strong, work together automatically for your child’s reading success.  Such measurement tools are most effective for guiding instruction for all students but for an identified struggling reader, these tools help to pinpoint skill subsets that require reading intervention to strengthen.  The earlier, the better!  The bigger the gap of successful reading by grade 3, the more challenging a game of catch up!

Some examples of low stakes, criterion-referenced screens you might be familiar with from your child’s teacher are:

  • Accelerated Reader/S.T.A.R. assessment
  • Basic Reading Inventory either Jerry Johns or another
  • Reading Recovery
  • DRA: developmental reading assessment
  • running records
  • sight word screens using Dolch or Fry
  • phoneme awareness/phonological awareness screens for rhyming, segmenting, and blending sounds
  • letter identification screens
  • letter/sound identification screens

Standardized tests measure the overall strength of automaticity of these skills, but do not identify more specifically the sub-skill sets that may be contributing to a low score in reading or comprehension!

There is something, you as parents can do which plays a very valuable role of engagement in your child’s reading success.  It starts with familiarizing yourself with the “reading process.”  CLICK HERE for my brief PowerPoint description of the reading process.

Frequent reading screens, inside and outside the classroom, are key for you as a parent to monitor your child’s reading progress.

What Do Those Informal Classroom Reading Test Scores Mean? Was first posted on NutsAboutReading.com


Child's reading success course
Kristin Cetone

Check with Mrs. C about her Convenient, Safe, and Affordable online, informal, reading assessment for Grades 1 through 3.  I help parents guide their child’s reading success!www.Nutsaboutreading.com


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