Running Records

How to use one of the most effective graphic organizers

A running record is a way to assess a student's reading progress by systematically evaluating a student's oral reading and identifying error patterns. These on-going assessments will help you judge your students' strengths and weaknesses so you can plan lessons specifically for them. This template will help you track your students' oral reading accuracy.

Need a blank running records form? You can find it in our graphic organizers center.

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Once you have noted self-corrections and the words read correctly and incorrectly, look through the running record to tally the number of errors. Here is the standard way to score each error:

  • Substitutions, insertions, omissions, and words the student didn't know are scored as errors.

  • Self-corrections are not scored as an error if the correct response was given.

  • If a line of text was omitted, each word in the line is scored as an error.

  • If a student repeatedly made an error on a proper noun, score it as one error.

  • "Try That Again" (TTA) is counted as one error.

  • Told words (T) and Appeals (A) are each scored as one error.

  • Repetitions (R) are not scored as an error.

Cueing Systems

After the running record is scored, look closely at the errors to see if they are errors in meaning, structure, or visual cues. Try to determine which cues the student is using for each miscue and self-correction. Kenneth Goodman developed three basic cueing systems.

  • Meaning/semantic: Readers use meaning to predict the message of text. Reinforce this cueing system by asking, "Does it make sense?"

  • Structure/syntax: Readers use grammar and knowledge of how language goes together to identify words. Readers who use this cueing system would choose a noun to replace a noun, instead of choosing a verb to replace a noun, because it would sound right to them. Reinforce this cueing system by asking, "Does it sound right?"

  • Visual/graphophonic: Readers use letter-sound relationships to figure out words by looking at the letters and using the sounds they make. Reinforce this cueing system by asking, "Does it look right?"

Students may have a pattern to the way they read. They may rely heavily on one cueing system, or not use another at all. If students need a reading strategy strengthened, consider using mini lessons, small group, or individual instruction, all of which can teach and review cueing systems.

Finding an Accuracy Rate, Error Rate, and Self-Correction Rate

Now that the running record is scored, the student's accuracy, error, and self-correction rates can be found.

To find the accuracy rate, subtract the number of errors from the number of words, divide by the number of words, and multiply by 100. This will tell if the text is appropriate for the student. Text that has an accuracy rate over 95% can be read by the student independently. An accuracy rate between 90 and 95% shows the student can read the text with some guidance and instruction. If the accuracy rate is below 90%, the student is likely to be frustrated and not be able to gain meaning from the text.

Independent Reading Level: more than 95%

Instructional Reading Level: 90-95%

Frustration Level: below 90%

To find the error rate, divide the number of words in the passage by the number of errors.

Independent Reading Level: 1:200-1:25

Instructional Reading Level: 1:10-1:20

Frustration Level: 1:3-1:9

To find the self-correction rate, add the number of errors and self-corrections together and divide by the number of self-corrections. A ratio of 1:5 indicates one self-correction to every five errors and indicates that the student needs strategies for self-monitoring or self-correcting. Self-correcting is important, because it, along with comprehension checking, is a strategy that good readers use.

Excellent: 1:1-1:2

Good: 1:3-1:5

Needs strategies to self-correct: 1:5 or more

How Can You Measure Success?

Student improvement in reading, due to information gained during running records, is the best measure of success. In conducting running records throughout the year, teachers will be able to see progress over time, intervene with instruction when necessary, and communicate progress to parents.

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