In order to match readers to books - and determine the reading strategies which need teaching - teachers need to assess the reading abilities of their students. There are many large-scale and group assessments that can be purchased, but some teachers have asked us for a "quick and easy" assessment instrument. The HIP Three-Minute Reading Checkup has some real advantages for many teachers:
- it's free (simply download and print for classroom use)
- it's quick (the test is individually administered, and requires only two to five minutes, depending on the student)
- it's student-tested (we've run this test on dozens of students, matching results against standardized tests and teacher experience)
- it gives teachers a grade-level approximation (accurate within half a grade from grade 2 to 7), a sense of decoding strategies and a quick indication of reading problems (guessing words, skipping words, failing to read for meaning)
You'll need two 30 K downloads to administer the assessment. These are Word files, each 2 pages:
Some technical notes on the assessment:
- At HIP, we do not accept the validity of "words in isolation" assessments. Reading is about making meaning, so decoding should have the same purpose. The first section of this instrument is a warm-up for students and a rough placement indicator for teachers. By listening to student read these six sentences aloud, a teacher can hear how students attack difficult words and get a sense of a student's frustration level. By placing the words in context - both in the sentences and as part of a themed group - we feel students have a more realistic assessment activity.
- The second section involves passage reading. The passages begin at a grade-2 level and rise in difficulty by half grade increments to a grade-7 level. These levels are marked on the teacher version.
- For good readers, there is no sense in beginning with the first passage. Use the information from section one to determine an appropriate starting point.
- For very weak readers, who struggle with the first reading passage, we suggest a running record done with picture books.
- In our experience, reluctant readers have difficulty reading aloud and simultaneously comprehending the text they have just read. (This is true, to a lesser extent, for competent adult readers, as well.) While you may be tempted to ask a comprehension question after a passage, the answer you receive will tell you little or nothing. Better to listen for fluency and mark miscues or hesitations on your teacher version.
- Fewer than five miscues or hesitations in a particular passage indicates that a book at that level can be read "independently," that is, without much teacher support. However, the nature of the miscue must be considered in evaluating a student's level. Better to err by offering a book that is too easy than one that is too difficult.
- We find that students will often point out their own level if asked, "What passage did you feel most comfortable reading?"
- Remember that this is not a norm-referenced reading test. No three-minute assessment can give results that match the detailed information from a set of running records or a lengthy standardized test.