Informal Reading Assessments: How to Design and Conduct Informal Tests

Teachers often administer informal reading assessments during a regular classroom lesson to monitor student progress and make adjustments or re-teach material as necessary. If you'd like to know how well your child is reading, you can also design and conduct informal assessments at home.

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Overview of How to Design and Conduct Informal Reading Assessments

Reading Out Loud

Reading out loud is a good way to gauge your child's reading fluency, which is the ability to read quickly and accurately. It's also an important indicator of reading comprehension. Ask your child to read grade level books out loud to you and note how smoothly he or she reads without hesitating or stumbling over words. After your child reads, discuss the content to make sure he or she understands the basic concepts of the text.

Story Retelling

This technique can be used as either a written or oral assessment. Ask your child to retell a story that he or she has read previously to determine whether your child understands the plot. You can also use this assessment to determine if he or she has problems organizing the elements of the story into a coherent whole.


Another form of informal assessment for middle and high school kids is homework. Since the lesson is given the same day as the homework assignment, homework allows you to discover whether or not your child understands the concepts covered that day. You can look over a reading assignment for spelling and grammar errors or help your child with literature assignments.


Games can provide kids with a challenging - and fun - method for increasing their skills in reading. The game scores can also be used as informal reading assessments. There are some good websites that offer reading games and activities you can use for this purpose. For example, Reading Rockets has a list of activities to do before, during and after reading a book, such as writing a letter to the author or creating a collage around themes or characters of the book.

ReadWriteThink has a crossword puzzle tool on its website that you can use to create puzzles using characters from books. In another activity, kids create a book cover and add cover notes to demonstrate their knowledge of the book. This activity requires some computer skills and a flash player.

Cloze Activities

The cloze procedure is a technique that can be used as a diagnostic reading assessment. In this activity, a reading passage is given to a child with key words deleted, and the child is asked to determine the appropriate word to fill in the blank to gain meaning from the text.

How to Prepare a Cloze Assessment

To prepare materials for cloze exercises, the following technique may be used.

1. Select a self-contained passage of a length appropriate for the grade level of your child. Use texts that can be easily read by your child.

2. Leave the first and last sentences and all punctuation intact.

3. Carefully select the words for omission using a word-count formula, such as every fifth word. To assess your child's knowledge of the topic or his or her ability to use semantic cues, delete content words that carry meaning, such as nouns, main verbs, adjectives and adverbs. To assess your child's use of syntactic cues, delete some conjunctions, prepositions and auxiliary words.

4. When preparing the final draft of the passage, make all blanks of equal length to avoid including visual clues about the lengths of omitted words.

5. Have your child read the entire passage before filling in the blanks.

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