Why do we use Running Records?

  • to evaluate text difficulty
  • to examine the acceleration of the child
  • to monitor progress of the child
  • to allow different children to move through different books at different speeds while keeping track of (and records of) individual progress
  • to observe particular difficulties in particular children
  • to guide classroom instruction
'Learning to take a running record takes practice. It is, however, an effective way to closely observe the strategies a child uses (or fails to use) as he or she reads. With first and second graders who read short books slowly enough to allow teachers to mark all the errors, the teacher uses a Running Record form or a blank sheet of paper. On this paper the teacher notes miscues and analyzes errors and self-corrections. For older students, who read too quickly for the teacher to make notes, it is easier to copy pages of selected text at several grade levels. In this way, the teacher can make the notations directly on the paper, again noting error patterns and reading strategies.

How to take running records:
A running record is a short one-on-one assessment tool which can help guide teacher instruction. The teacher's role is passive. The reader should be given
at least 5 seconds to think before the teacher gives him the word. If the child asks for help, the teacher notes the appeal (A) on the sheet. The teacher should encourage the student to "try something." Approximately 120-150 words of text ensure an accurate running record. As the teacher observes the reader, she/he will be looking for use of the three cueing systems (or strategies). Was the child obtaining information from:

  • the meaning or semantics of the text (M) Does what I read make sense?
  • the structure or syntax of the sentence (S) Does what I read sound right?
  • something from the visual cues (V) Does what I read look right?
To take a running record it is helpful to have the following:
Running Record Sheet
Common Conventions for Scoring Running Records
Calculation and Conversion Tables
MSV Error Analysis Guide
Strategy Focus for Subsequent Remediation

With practice, a running record should take only 5-7 minutes. In that short duration, an observant teacher can learn a great deal about the child's reading behaviors or strategies. The primary goal of a running record is to assess fluency. Without fluency, comprehension suffers as the child struggles to decode each word. Both fluency and comprehension are necessary for a competent reader.


Running Records

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