Developing Elementary Reading Assessments: Tips for Teachers

Assessments indicate what your students know and what they still need help with. If you're teaching reading at the elementary school level, keep reading for a few tips and suggestions about developing these assessments.

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Creating Reading Assessments for Elementary Students

What Assessments Accomplish

Reading assessments can help you find out exactly what a child or class needs, especially if the assessments you give out are targeted. However, use them in conjunction with other information you gather from homework, class work and participation.

Vary the types of assessments you use. For instance, you might use multiple-choice questions in addition to short-answer and essay questions. The topics you cover in reading assessments can also determine different information about students. For example, you might develop one assessment focused on using context clues for comprehension, while another might address similes and metaphors in poetry.

There are four main kinds of reading assessments: screening, diagnostic, progress and outcome. Screening assessments determine in advance if any children in your class have special needs or learning disabilities. Use diagnostic assessments to plan your lessons according to your students' needs. You'll also create assessments to monitor the progress of your class as a whole, as well as the progress of individual students. Finally, you can use outcome assessments to determine how effective your lessons have been based on reading performance.


When you're developing elementary reading assessments, clearly identify the reading objective you want to assess, and make sure each test item assesses this. For example, if you want assess the ability to read words using a specific vowel combination, select a passage that uses words with this vowel combination. In addition, the bulk of the passage should be otherwise simple, so students don't struggle with words that aren't being assessed.

Decide if you want students to take an assessment by answering written questions or one-on-one with you. If you want them to take a written comprehension assessment, make sure your students have the reading and writing skills to understand and respond to each question successfully. If you design a reading assessment that needs to be administered to individual students, make sure you allow for adequate assessment time in your lesson plans.

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