A Running Record is an assessment tool which provides an insight into a student’s reading as it is happening (Clay, 1993).
A Running Record provides information on the following:
- a score of word reading accuracy
- an analysis of a reader's errors and self-corrections
- an analysis of the reading strategies used.
Using a series of established conventions, a teacher can quickly and accurately record what the reader says as they read a text or section of a text aloud. After the reading, the teacher completes an analysis.
There is a set of universal conventions (developed by Clay, 1993) which allow teachers to accurately record what a child articulates as they read a text or section of a text.
Using the agreed conventions ensures colleagues and other professionals also can understand and interpret the running record. This promotes consistency of approach because all stakeholders (e.g. classroom teachers, members of a professional learning team, literacy coordinators, leadership teams, allied health professionals and/or parents) can accurately see and understand a record of a student's reading at a given point in time.
To access examples of conventions, see:
Running Record Conventions (docx - 797.7kb)
Levels of text difficulty
According to the number of errors and self-corrections, a mathematical formula is used to determine the level of text difficulty. For example:
To progress the reading skills of students, teachers aim to work with their students on instructional level texts.
In selecting instructional level texts, teachers are able to identify the supports necessary for successful reading but still allow enough processing and problem solving opportunities for the reader to develop a repertoire of reading strategies that will eventually lead to reading independence.
In addition to the Running Record and its analysis, two other important aspects must be assessed to give a teacher a full insight into what a student does when they read. These are:
All of this information can then be used to develop targeted learning intentions which will inform future teaching and student learning. A Running Record has a relevance span of about three weeks.
For an accurate picture of a student’s reading, Running Records should be taken on a passage of text with 100-150 words or the entire text if less than that.
Running Records are scored and a conversion rate is used to calculate a percentage accuracy score.
When students are able to read a text with 90-94% accuracy, the opportunity to learn about reading and to problem solve is maximised.
According to the analyses, the teacher will then group students into ‘like groups’ based on learning needs and match these needs to an appropriate text.
Traditionally, texts commonly known as levelled texts, have been organised or categorised according to degree of difficulty or complexity to support developing readers. However, non-levelled texts can also be used if they can be aligned carefully to a student’s instructional level (i.e. a running record on a text determines whether that text is easy, instructional or hard for the reader).
For more information, see:
Guided Reading - Theory to practice
A score of word reading accuracy (First level analysis)
The number of errors made whilst reading signals how difficult a text is.
To determine the error rate, a teacher needs to:
- count the number of words in the section of text or whole text read (100 to 150 words is ideal but smaller texts in their entirety can be used too)
- divide this by the number of errors recorded.
For example, An error rate of 1:10 means for every 10 words read, one error is made.
For optimal learning, readers should make no more than one error every 10 to 19 words (90 to 94% accuracy). For more information, see:
Conversion chart (docx - 208.78kb)
Each error is analysed in a Running Record. At the point of error, the teacher asks “What source/s of information was the reader using when they made the error?”
MSV is recorded in the Information Used (E) section of the Running Record and the specific sources of information used to contribute to the error are identified and circled as to whether the reader was using:
- semantic cues (meaning)
- syntactic cues (structure)
- graphophonic cues (visual).
Self correction rate
To determine the self correction rate of a Running Record, a teacher needs to:
- add the number of self corrections with the number of errors
- divide by the number of self corrections.
A self correction rate of 1: 4 means for every four errors, one is self corrected.
Anything larger than this ratio would usually signal that the reader is not attending to the text and the meaning has been compromised.
Self corrections are analysed twice. First the error is analysed in terms of the sources of information used. We cannot know for certain why the student self-corrected, but we can make an educated guess by carefully observing what the student does and asking the following question:
What additional information did the reader use to notice there was an error and fix it up?
- did they consider the meaning and make another attempt of the word so that it made sense?
- did they recognise that it did not sound right and went back and reread correctly (structure)?
- did they look at the whole word and notice the ending (for example) and correct it (visual)?
- did they use a combination of some or all of these sources?
Sources of information
Readers use different sources of information to actively process meaning from text. These sources of information are described or defined as reading cues. Information that readers use comes from:
Good readers integrate all 3 sources of information to understand what they read.
A reader meets an unknown word in a sentence:
It ____ across the grass.
The reader knows the word must be a verb because of their knowledge of language structure. This is referred to as
The reader then considers the preceding sentence in the text.
John let his pet rabbit go. It ____ across the grass.
Now the reader has further information. They draw on their prior knowledge about rabbits to help them predict how rabbits might move. They can predict that the verb is likely to be ‘hopped’ or ‘jumped’. Referring to prior knowledge to assist the reading process is known as using
Readers now need only a little further information to determine what the word is.
John let his pet rabbit go. It
h____ across the grass.
In this case the initial letter matched to the phoneme /h/ is probably enough to enable the reader to accurately predict the word to be ‘hopped’. This is referred to as
To download an example, see:
Reading Record example (docx - 701.16kb)