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Learn About Assessing Early Reader Progress & Find Out What's New!

Michele Dufresne

Teaching Tips from Michèle Dufresne

Assessing Early Reader Progress: Warming up to "warm" running records.

I recently picked up a good book that I could not put down. I enjoyed it so much that I read it even though I had a million other things to do. Now that I've finished the book, I'm looking forward to discussing it with my book group.

I would like every child to experience this kind of deep connection with her reading.

Monitoring of student literacy progress is happening more frequently in schools today. This is a good thing - we are discovering many things about our students and the progress they are or are not making.

However, I believe in some schools we have begun to overuse "cold" running records. Cold running records refer to text the child has not read before taking the assessment. This type of assessment can be very helpful in making decisions about which children need intervention and how the teacher or school literacy program is working. But, I do not think cold running records provide teachers with the necessary information that leads to the careful literacy instruction needed to help many students learn to read.

To really understand how your students' processing systems are developing, you need to take running records with text the student has been introduced to and has read once before. I am calling this a "warm" running record. This is a practice Reading Recovery teachers use daily with their students to know what strategic processing to focus on as well as when it is time to lift the text level and provide new challenges.

Classroom teachers would benefit from regular use of this practice. Warm running records help teachers know whether the child is developing a strong processing system and what should be attended to next. Warm running records should be analyzed for the sources of information students are using and neglecting. Teachers should count up how many times they need to tell a child a word (we call this "a told") and should also considered how fluent the reading sounded.

For teachers who make a consistent practice of using warm running records, I guarantee better teaching decisions and faster student progress.


Happy reading to you all!

Michèle Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books  early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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