Reading 101 is a collaboration with the Center for Effective Reading Instruction and The International Dyslexia Association.

Assessment: Introduction

A teacher smiles at two children

Assessments can be invaluable in helping teachers to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each student and to guide the next steps in instruction. There are many informal tools for assessing the various components of reading. No single assessment will provide insight into all of the reading-related skills that students need to learn. This chart provides a good summary: Overview of Informal Assessments.

Conducting informal assessments throughout the school year can help teachers determine:

  • Whether instruction is being delivered at the right level and at the right pace
  • How to plan future instruction that will meet students’ needs
  • How students should be grouped for instruction so that each student receives instruction at the right level of difficulty
  • Which students need individual support

The “In Depth” section of this module looks at the reading-related skills that students should master by the end of Grades K, 1, 2, and 3. That section also provides an overview of how educators can monitor student progress and determine whether a student is staying on track. The "In Practice" section presents more detailed information about the informal assessment tools that can be used to measure each of the core skills that students need to become proficient readers.

Most of the assessments we feature should be administered one on one. Reading assessments in the early grades involve listening as the student reads aloud or responds verbally. Group-administered assessments of students’ silent reading tend to miss many key components of reading. When you are giving an assessment, you should try to provide a comfortable, non-distracting testing environment for the student, with the rest of the class engaged in another task and working quietly. Ideally, you can arrange for another teacher to be present while you are conducting assessments.

For detailed information on specific assessment tools, visit the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL). SEDL offers a database that provides extensive information about many early reading assessment tools. It’s a valuable resource for teachers and administrators who are seeking reliable reading assessment tools for children in pre-K through third grade.  

Video: Assessment by Specialists

At a Lindamood-Bell Center in Denver, a seven-year-old receives one-on-one assessment and guidance.

Reading 101 is a collaboration with the Center for Effective Reading Instruction and The International Dyslexia Association.

"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark." — Victor Hugo, Les Miserables