Informal Reading and Language Based Assessments For Elementary Grade Students

Assessment Packet

Table of Contents:

Assessment 1 The Names Test of Decoding
Assessment 2 Roswell-Chall Diagnostic Reading test
Assessment 3 Gates-McKillop-Horowitz Reading Diagnostic Test
Assessment 4 San Diego Quick Assessment or Graded Word List (GWL)
Assessment 5 The Developmental Spelling Test
Assessment 6 Wepman Auditory Discrimination Test
Assessment 7 The Harp Free Retell
Assessment 8 Barr Rubric for writing
Assessment 9 CLOZE
Assessment 10 Concepts About Print


Assessment 1

Name of Assessment: The names Test of Decoding
Source: Phonics they use by Patricia M. Cunningham

Assessment Goal: A word decoding and word knowledge test using single and polysyllabic first and last names

Format: The test is made up of a set of 35 first and last names (70 words in all), representing various patterns, phonetic sounds, consonant blends, vowel sounds, and syllables. It is a more natural and appropriate set of words to decode, for students in grades four and up. Ask the child to pretend they are the teacher and they are taking morning attendance.

Scoring procedure: Use a check to indicate correct responses and write the phonetic spelling for any incorrect responses. If the student does not attempt a name, write “no” next to that name and encourage the child to continue. For polysyllabic words, consider the word correct regardless of where the student places the accent on the word. Each correct word/name is one point. However, I was not able to find what scores indicate frustration, instructional, and independent levels in Phonics they use or in my research. (See reflections below).

Time to Administer: There are no time constraints in this assessment.

Reason for administering this test: There are many word recognition and decoding tests that can be given, but according to Cunningham, ” I wanted a measure of their (students) word identification ability that was not confounded but context but that was not just a list. Cunningham went on to explain that reading from a word list is unnatural and choosing the words is difficult since you risk choosing sight words they may already know. This test id more authentic and meaningful

Reflections: Since this is a qualitative test, I imagine there are no scoring levels and I might be mistaken about each word being worth one point. This test is designed to see; in what phonetic area the student needs instruction or support. This is a more authentic means of looking at a student’s word attack techniques and decoding skills.

Assessment 2

Name of Assessment: Roswell-Chall Diagnostic Reading Test
Source: Florence G Roswell and Jeanne S. Chall

Assessment Goals: Designed to evaluate the basic word analysis (decoding) and word recognition skills of primary grade children. To assess student’s ability to decode words with long and short vowel sounds, vowel patterns, word families, consonant blends, multi-syllabic words, and letter recognition and sounds.

Format: Section 1A – Ask student to tell you the sound the letter makes. If they cannot, ask them to tell you a word that starts with that letter. Section 1B – Repeat procedure from 1A. Section 1C – Have the student to vertically read the words in each word family group. You may model the first one. Example: Read, “am”, then read, “clam”. Section 2A – Have the students read the words across. If they read a word incorrectly, write down what they said. This section is assessing students’ ability to decode words with short vowel sounds. Section 2B – The vowels are in isolation. Ask student to tell you the long and short sound each vowel makes. Section 2C – Have the student read the two vertical words in each column. For example, show “mat/mate”. This section assesses student’s ability to decode words with a “silent e”. Sections 3A&3B – Assessing long vowel sounds with and without vowel pairs. Have students read the words across. Section 4 – Tell students, Here are some longer words.” Model the first word, and then ask the student to read the rest of the words across.

Scoring Procedure: Each correct answer is worth one point. There is a scoring sheet. The assessment is to help the instructor plan instruction to support and strengthen weak areas.

Time to administer: No time constraints.

Reason for giving this assessment: To determine the student’s ability to decode words that are made up of different sounds and blends and to determine if the student understands vowel patterns and rules such as “silent e”, and differences in long and short sounding vowels and vowel pairs. It also helps to evaluate basic word analysis (decoding) and word recognition skills.

Reflections: This is a basic assessment that builds on phonemic awareness. Also, if a student is not successful in completing all sections and instruction is designed to improve weak skills, retesting would show any improvement the student makes.

Assessment 3

Name of Assessment and source: Gates-McKillop-Horowitz Reading Diagnostic Tests: Second edition, Teachers College Press, 1981
(Auditory Blending and Auditory Discrimination)

Assessment Goals: “Assess the strengths and weaknesses in reading and related areas of a particular child.” Auditory blending and discrimination tests are given to provide the instructor with insight towards the student’s ability to understand that words are comprised of phonemes. Both subtests also assess students’ auditory (listening) comprehension. To diagnose reading problems requires assessment in phonemic awareness and word recognition.

Format: Auditory Blending-Teacher is to accurately pronounce the phonemes of each word. The student upon listening to the word shall put it together and say what they hear. The student is allowed a second attempt if they are incorrect in their first identification.

Auditory Discrimination-Turn the student around and have their back facing the instructor. The teacher may provide the student with a sample such as showing a pen and pencil and asking whether they are the same or different. The teacher reads two words and the student, without looking, is to respond either if the words are the same or different.

Scoring Procedure: Auditory Blending-The teacher is to write exactly what the student says. A raw score is constructed giving1 point for correct on the first try, and half a point for correct on the second try. Then, the score is compared to the average.

Auditory Discrimination-The student is given one trial and the raw score is comprised of how many correct answers the student gets. The score is then compared to an average determined score.

Time to administer: These portions of the test are relatively quick to tests to administer. There are no time restrictions or constraints.

Ways assessment guides instruction: These tests assess the student’s receptive and auditory abilities. Quite often, reading difficulties come from a child not able to distinguish sounds or individual phonemes, or are unable to put them together. The test will help clarify where those difficulties lie, so as corrective instruction can be given.

Reflections: Often when a young child had multiple ear infections during sensitive language acquisition stages, they may suffer a degree of hearing loss. The child may have difficulty deciphering certain sounds or unit phonemes. This test may pick up on a hearing issue that can impact on language related skills.

Assessment 4

Name of Assessment: San Diego Quick Assessment or Graded Word List (GWL)
Source: Ekwall, e., & Shanker, J.L. (1988). Diagnosis and remediation of the disabled reader (3rd edition). Boston, M.A: Allyn and Bacon, Inc., pp. 102-103

Assessment Goals: The San Diego Quick Assessment is a set of graded word lists that you can use to determine the learner’s word recognition ability. It also helps to assess speed and automaticity of word identification.

Format, scoring procedure, time to administer: Put each of the following word lists on a 3×5 inch index card. Hint: On the back of the card put-

–. Pre-primer level
-. Primer
. First Grade level
. Second Grade Level
… Third Grade Level, etc.

The reason for labeling is that if you drop the cards, you can sort them in order, but an older student cannot readily tell what grade level he or she is reading on. It is recommended to laminate cards or insert them in plastic sleeves.

Directions: Tell student “There are ten words on each card. I would like you to try every word on this card.” Give the student one card at a time. Write words mispronounced. The test begins with the card of the words that are two levels below the actual grade level of the student. The cards are read while the administrator notes which words have been missed. Once the student misses three on a list, the test is compete and the testing goes no further.

1 word missed = Independent Level

2 words missed = Instructional Level

3 words missed = Frustration Level

Reason for giving this test: This assessment serves as a tool to gain an approximate estimate of the student’s reading level, but does not measure comprehension or the ability of the student to define the words. It serves as an indicator to whether more testing is appropriate.

Reflections: Although this test is quick to administer and gives a snapshoot into a child’s word recognition, other assessments need to be given to get a full picture of the child’s abilities.

Assessment 5

Name of Assessment: The Developmental Spelling Test
Source: J. Richard Gentry & Jean Wallace Gillet, 1993

Assessment Goals: The Developmental Spelling Test was designed to help teachers determine the specific stage of spelling development at which a child, in primary grades K-2, is functioning at. The five stages are Precommunicative, Semiphonetic, Phonetic, Transitional, and Conventional.

Format: The teacher calls out each spelling word on the list, followed by the provided sentence, and then repeats the spelling word again. The teacher should, “explain that the activity will not be graded as right or wrong, but will be used to see how children think certain difficult words should be spelled. Be encouraging, and make the activity challenging, playful, and fun” (Gentry, 1993). Teachers are looking for inventive spelling.

Example of word list:

1. Monster I do not like to watch monster movies.
2. United You live in the United States.
3. Dress The girl wore a new dress.
4. Bottom A big fish lives at the bottom of the lake.
5. Hiked We hiked to the top on the hill.
6. Human Miss Piggy is not a human.
7. Eagle An eagle is a powerful bird.
8. Closed The little girl closed the door.
9. Bumped The car bumped into the bus.
10. Type What type of pet do you want?

Scoring Procedure:

Precommunicative spellers randomly string letters together to form words: spelling does not correspond to sound. (Example: rtes for monster)
Semiphonic spellers know that letters represent sounds, but usually abbreviate the spelling in a way that either leaves off initial and/or final sounds. (Example: m for monster)
Phonetic spellers spell the words as they sound, though spelling may ne unconventional. (Example: mostr for monster)

Reason for administering this test: To see where the child places in spelling and to create instruction that will strengthen the student’s skills. It can be used as a measure of growth as we. Seeing where the student needs help, for example with end sounds, instruction and activities can do done that focus on the ending sounds of words.

Reflection: It is helpful to let the child know that this spelling test is not a graded test but that the student is helping you, the teacher learn how children think when they are attempting to spell unfamiliar words. It is also good to catch potential spelling difficulties early enough to teach proper spelling patterns and rules that would be helpful as the student enters the upper grades.

Assessment 6

Name of Assessment: Wepman Auditory Discrimination Test
Source: Joseph M. Wepman (Revised 1973)

Assessment Goals: To determine the ability of students to recognize the fine differences that exist between the phonemes used in English speech. This assessment can be given to students and to adults as well.

Format, scoring procedure, and time to administer: The examiner’s sheet consists of thirty word pairs differing in a single phoneme in each pair and ten word pairs which do not differ. Thirteen out of the thirty word pairs differ in initial consonants, another thirteen word pairs differ in final consonants and four word pairs differ in the medial vowels. The test is administered orally to one student at a time. The student is seated so that he or she cannot see the examiner’s mouth or the words on the examiner’s word sheet. The examiner reads each word pair only once, and the student indicates whether the examiner read the same word twice of read two different words. The examiner records the student’s responses on the exam sheet. The test takes approximately five minutes to administer. After the test has been completed, the examiner tallies all errors made in both the “x” and “y” columns and writes the sums in the boxes labeled “x” and “y” scores at the bottom of the test sheet.

Reason for administrating the test: Similar to the Gates-McKillop-Horowitz , the Wepman test was designed to assess a person’s ability to recognize slight differences in sounds of words that are close in resonance.

Ways assessment guide instruction: Assessing where a problem lies helps in planning instruction. Again, as a result, hearing problems can be detected.

Reflections: This is a very thorough test and the scoring varies according to the age of the person being tested. Phonemic awareness is very important for early readers and this test is a good indicator if a child can hear individual unit sounds.

Assessment 7

Name of Assessment: Harp Free Retell
Source: The Handbook of literacy assessment and evaluation. Harp, B. (2000).

Assessment Goals: Using specific rubrics for the Narrative Retelling Checklist and the Expository Retelling Checklist, teachers can gage the comprehension level of the student based on the student’s ability to orally retell a story he or she has read.

Format, scoring procedure, and time to administer: The Narrative Retelling Checklist is an assessment set up like a checklist asking students to identify story elements, conflict and key ideas, and problem resolution. All narratives share elements such as character, setting, plot or problem, turning points or key episodes, and end with a resolution to the problem or issue. The checklist accounts for aided and unaided, oral and written retellings. Rubric scores points from 4 down to 1 (4 being the most successful retelling). This is not a timed assessment.

Reason for administering this test: To help young readers identify story elements and main ideas, which aid in comprehension. Teachers can measure the level of detail a student uses when retelling a narrative, or important and main concepts, sequencing events, utilization of charts, graphs, and maps in an expository piece.

Ways in which results can be used in planning instruction: Activities to promote comprehension, focus on story elements, and recalling ideas would be activated if the student’s retelling are weak. Graphic organizers, look backs, think alouds, five ‘W’s and the ‘how’ are ways in which a student can visually see the important facts needed in a successful retelling.

Reflections: I tried to get more information about this assessment by searching on the Internet, but did not find anything further. This assessment seems self-exclamatory and I think as a qualitative test, it is the up to the examiner’s judgment to figure out where the student needs support and help.

Assessment 8

Name of Assessment: Barr Rubric for writing (WRITING SCALE 1, Grades K-3: Becoming a writer)
Source: Assessing literacy with the learning record; A handbook for teachers, Grades K-6: The Learning Record Assessment Systemä.

Assessment Goal: A guide for teachers to focus on the characteristics of developing student writers, from the physical act of putting oral language on paper, chalkboard, or computer screen to actual use of writing to communicate meaning.

Format: The scale integrates the transcription and composing aspects of writing as one supports and reinforces the other. The scale describes six stages of development:

1. Beginning writer

2. Early writer

3. Developing writer

4. Moderately fluent writer

5. Fluent writer

6. Exceptionally fluent writer

Scoring Procedure: Scores from one to six record writers in varying levels of dependence to independence in their writing.

Time to administer: Students should collect their writing all year in portfolios of their work. A range of writing for various purposes, on both assigned and self-chosen topics, can be samples periodically for signs of progress and information for instruction.

Reason for administering this test: To see where the student is as a writer and to prepare instruction and support to take the student to the next level of writing. Using the rubric will pinpoint areas that need to be addressed and drive instruction in those areas.

Reflections: Students can look at their own work and determine what should go into the portfolio. They can measure their own success in writing and can strive for improvement. Teachers can focus on the parts of writing that needs work. The teacher and the student are partners in working together in selection of the work and in conferencing about pieces of writing.

Assessment 9

Name of assessment: CLOZE
Source: Dr. Seidenberg; Classroom discussion

Assessment Goals: A quantitative assessment that will produce a number score to assess reading comprehension

Format: CLOZE is a method by which you systematically delete every fifth word, after the first sentence of a 300 to 500 word passage, and evaluate students’ ability to correctly supply the deleted words using context clues and drawing from their own vocabulary. The last sentence in the text remains intact. Therefore, a 500-word piece would have 100 deletions. A 300-word piece would have 60 deletions.

Scoring the CLOZE: Every word the student matches exactly is considered correct.
Score Levels:

58-100 Independent
44-57 Instructional
0-43 Frustration

Reason for giving the CLOZE and implications for instruction.
A score of 58 percent or higher indicates student read the passage with competence. Reading individually will not be difficult for the student.
A score between 44 and 57 percent indicates the passage can be read with some competence by the student; however, reading with some guidance would be beneficial.
A score below 43 percent will probably be too difficult for the student. A great deal of guidance will be needed, or other material should be substituted.

This is a means of assessing the comprehension level of the student, therefore aiding in preparing instruction or support, for example, working with improving vocabulary, context clues, and providing background knowledge.

Reflections: My student found this to be a fun activity. It is more interactive for the child and is exciting being able to complete the story as if the student was helping the author write it. A fun extension for this assessment is a Mad Libs activity. While it is not the same as CLOZE, it is helpful in teaching parts of speech and the results are humorous or nonsense stories, which children seem to enjoy.

Assessment 10

Name of Assessment: Concepts About Print by Marie Clay

Materials used: Concepts About Print; What children learned about the way we print language? and (C.A.P) Concepts about print story booklet, Stones by Marie Clay

Assessment Goals: Especially relevant to the assessment of pre-reading or emergent literacy competencies such as:
Book orientation knowledge
Principles involving the directional arrangement of print on the page
The knowledge that print, not the pictures, contain the story
Understanding of important reading terminology like word, letter, beginning of the sentence, top of the page.
Understanding of simple punctuation marks


Very scripted as outlined below:

Use one of the C.A.P booklets by Marie Clay such as Stones, Sand, Follow Me, Moon, or No Shoes. Or use a simple, illustrated children’s book that the student has not seen before.
Hand the student the book, with the spine facing the child and say, “Show me the front of the book.”
Open the book directly to the place where print in on one page and a picture on the other. Then say, “Show me where I begin reading.” Make sure the child shows the exact place.
Stay on the same set of pages and after the child points to the spot where you begin reading, say, “Show me with your finger where I go next.” Then ask, “Where do I go from there?”
Turn to a new page and say, “Point to the beginning of the story on this page>” Then say, “Point to the end of the story on this page.”
Turning to another pair of pages and say, “Show me the bottom of the page,” (page 8) and then “Show me the top of the page.’ Point to the picture and say, “Show me the bottom of the picture,” and then, “Show me the top of the picture.” (page 7)

On the same page, point to a capital letter with your pencil and say, “Show me a little letter that is the same as this one.” (I on page 6) Next, point to a lowercase letter and say, “Now point to the capital letter that is the same as this one.” (t on page 12) You may wish to repeat this procedure with other pairs of letters.
Turn to a page that has a period, an exclamation point, a question mark, a comma, and a set of quotation marks. Point to each in turn and ask, “What is this? What is it for?”

Scoring Procedure:

Observe and notate the child’s responses on the Concepts About Print Score sheet using the Quick Reference for Scoring Standards, assigning one point for each item scored. A scale of 1 to 9 (Stanines) are provided for age groups between 5 and 7 in order to see how children compare with other children in their age groups.

Time to Administer:

As far as I could see, there was no timed element to this test and some children may answer more promptly than others.

Reasons I chose this assessment: I feel it is important to assess and support young emergent readers by building a foundation for them to construct literacy skills and strategies. The basics come first and we as teachers should not take for granted that every child entering a school environment (pre-school or kindergarten) knows these basic concepts about print. Once we are assured that they are comfortable with the concepts, we can teach further skills for successful readers and writers.

Ways in which results can be used in planning instruction:

After assessing the child’s knowledge of print, teachers plan instruction and teach the unknown concepts. Retesting should be done to compare and monitor growth.


It is hard to reflect on this assessment because I have never administered it. However, as I stated above it is more important and age appropriate to assess young children’s concept of print, rather than the pressure that has recently been applied for children to memorize all their letters and some words as a part of being literacy ready. Children need to understand the concepts of print before they can make sense of reading and writing.