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Teaching Tip: Assessing Students Remotely

Teaching Tip: Assessing Students Remotely

As school starts, many of you will need to assess students remotely. It is important to assess students before beginning formal guided reading lessons. You will need data to help make decisions about forming groups and targeting instruction for reading, word study, and guided writing. If you are working with beginners, you will also want to know which letters they can identify to help you plan Beginner Steps (Pre-A) lessons. Here is our Letter-Sound Assessment designed specifically for remote use.

Assessing Reading

To administer a leveled reading assessment in a remote setting, you will need to have the text available digitally. If you have a subscription to the Literacy Footprints Digital Reader, you will find that you have been given access to the Literacy Footprints Guided Reading Assessment, which includes books at Levels A–N that you can use to assess your readers. We will be releasing higher-level assessment texts (O–Z) in the coming months, but in the meantime, we still have a free online assessment you can use here

Reading books on a screen presents some additional challenges, especially during an assessment. We often ask students at early text levels to use a finger to point to words as they read. This is harder on a screen, but we have found that you can encourage them to tap the screen as they read. I also find that students have less stamina when reading online, which means they may not be able to read more than one or two of the assessment books in one sitting. To help with this, we have put together a tool that enables you to pinpoint the level at which to start a guided reading assessment. This can prevent you from having students start at too low or high a text level, where they might be required to read more than one book during the assessment process. This tool, the Leveled Word Assessment, asks students to read a list of words. When they miss two words in a row, the assessment recommends the level at which to begin the Guided Reading Assessment. You can find our digital Leveled Word Assessment here.

Word Study Assessments

When forming reading groups and planning instruction, it’s likewise important to assess students’ understanding of how words work. At early levels, it’s critical to assess those sounds students hear in simple words; for more advanced readers, you need to assess their understanding of letter clusters, vowel patterns, and affixes. You can use the data you collect to plan word study lessons during guided reading that address gaps and confusions. Our word study inventory assessments are located here and can be easily modified for remote use:


After administering the word study inventory remotely, have a family member take a picture of your student’s writing and send it to you so you have a record and can analyze the results. Another option is to have the student write the word and hold it up during the assessment.

For more information on assessing students’ word knowledge and making teaching decisions for word study, read Jan Richardson’s and my book The Next Step Forward in Word Study and Phonics. 

Assessing Writing

To better understand student progress in guided reading, assessing writing is key. You can then use this data to plan the word study and guided writing parts of your lesson. If you have a subscription to the Literacy Footprints Digital Reader, there is a guided writing assessment you can use to determine students’ writing strengths and challenges. As with the word study assessments, after students write, have a family member take a picture of the writing and send it to you so you can record and analyze the results.

For more information on remote assessment, we have a webinar on the topic!