Running records template and assessment examples and free file! Learn how to complete the running record assessment form. Learn why running records help you analyze readers and help you learn what to teach next. You can also grab a FREE printable running records file with a leveled text in the article.
Running Records Assessment: What are they?
Way back in the day, researcher Marie Clay designed the running record assessment as a tool to analyze and capture a student’s thinking and behavior when reading. It is also not just used to record what the child says, but also how the child acts when they are reading. EXAMPLE: When reading and they get stuck, do they glance at the pictures for a clue?
Because a reader is always changing, it is best to use running records frequently.
Running Records Assessment: Why do we need them?
- It guides our teaching. Like I said above, a reader is constantly evolving so the running record can give us insight into what their next lessons should be.
- It helps us find that “just right book” for instruction. Through a running record, we can see what a child does at the point of difficulty. If the book is too easy, then the child’s cueing system might not be obvious to the observer. If the book is too difficult, students might abandon all strategies in the hopes of surviving the text. In others words, they are reading at their frustration level.
- It documents the students reading growth over time. A running record is like an actual recording of a student reading. You can look back at the document to see the student’s progression or at times, their lack of progression.
- It helps you to group your students. Someone recently asked, “Is there a way to place students in guided reading groups without having to do a running record? Um… nope… not in my opinion and not according to the experts. Now you may, initially, place students in a guided reading group based on your “best guess,” but by conducting routine and continuous running records, you can be assured they are placed in the right instructional text group. NOTE: There are other small groups you might pull for ELA skills like rhyming or phoneme manipulation that are not based on their guided reading level.
Running Records Assessment: When do you do them?
Every time I meet with a small group, I take at LEAST one running record. I have the opportunity to take a familiar read running record while we are doing a quick fluency check-in. Students will read the book they had from the previous lesson that they have taken home to practice.
When I introduce a new book, I take another running record (usually on a different student). This running record will be a cold read. Within a 2 week cycle, I will have collected at least one running record for each student in the group.
I used to be guilty of moving or swapping my reading groups every 6 weeks after the official assessment time. I soon realized this was a missed opportunity. Groups should be fluid, so students should be able to change groups when it is needed… not every 6 weeks.
Running Records Template: How do you take a running record?
First of all, this is done as part of your instruction, not something you stop instruction to do. So when I take a cold read running record, the student has already received a book introduction. Then I repeat the title and ask them to read for me. You can use a running record template like the one below, or simply a blank piece of paper.
Running Records Assessment: Recording Errors on the running record form
First off… running record errors only count in the text. You do not count the errors in titles, subtitles, or captions.
- an omission (child just skips the word)
- a substitution (child says a different word instead)
- an incorrect attempt (they tried, but did not get the word right)
- an appeal (they ask for help… even if you don’t tell them the word, but give them a strategy to try)
- told (you tell them the word)
- an insertion (the child adds a word that is not there)
- if they skip a whole line of text, each word that was skipped counts as an error
- If they skip a whole page, that counts as one error
- Incorrect proper nouns (like a name) is counted only once as an error… even if they missed it every time)
Does not count as an error:
- a correct attempt
- words that are pronounced differently in a child’s accent
I really recommend an app called The Running Record Toolbox. I’ve been doing running records for a while and I still use it. I have never met or talked to the designer of this app (nor am I compensated for my endorsement) but I heard it was developed by a teacher in Arkansas. It could be an urban legend…ha! But the app is .99! No brainer!
Running Records Assessment: What do the errors tell you?
The errors tell you what cueing system the child is using when reading.
So you can ask yourself… are they ignoring the meaning of the story? Are they ignoring what sounds right? Are they ignoring the way the word looks (like substituting the word “rabbit” for “bunny”.)
Oh boy… this a lot to take in!
You can find all of our leveled texts and running records assessments by clicking: Leveled Texts and Guided Reading
If you want to know more about guided reading, you may be interested in the following blog post:
FREE Running Records Template and Assessment file
Try out our guided reading lesson plans with this free set. Simply put your name and email in the box below and it will be sent to you!