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Analysis of Reading Strategies

Monitoring and Assessment | Four Resources Guideposts
First Steps Reading Developmental Continuum | Analysis of Reading Strategies |
Read and Retell | Codes of Visual Text | SWOT Analysis | Self and Peer Assessment

Analysis of Reading Strategies is an individualised assessment that was developed initially by Ken Goodman. It provides in-depth information about what strategies a reader is using and helps to identify areas that need attention for reading to develop. Max Kemp's work which draws on both Goodman and Marie Clay is perhaps more widely known in Australia.

Reading-with-Understanding Running Record

An alternative to Analysis of Reading Strategies that is widely used with younger readers is the Running Record devised by Marie Clay. An adaption of the Running Record was developed for use with older readers in New Zealand for the SARR (Supporting At-Risk readers) project. Older readers need to be assessed on their ability to read silently as well as their ability to read aloud.

Gaelene Rowe, Helen Lamont, May Daly, Debra Edwards & Sarah Mayor Cox, authors of Success with Reading & Writing: helping at-risk students 8-13 years, (2000), have kindly given us permission to include information about a Reading-with-Understanding Running Record from their book. Examples of completed Reading-with-Understanding Running Record sheets are included in their book.

Reading and Writing Assessment

Reading Assessment

A teacher needs to draw from a range of possible assessment tools in order to identify the aspects of reading over which a student is developing control, and those where a student still needs some support. This section outlines some assessment techniques which are useful for varying purposes.

Example one: If a student appears not to understand the text material which they can read aloud fluently, a Reading-With-Understanding Running Record would be a starting place for more information. Then assessing with a TORCH passage or a cloze passage would give further data on the kind of comprehension skills that could be developed in a support program.

Example two: If a student is having difficulty reading the class material it will be necessary to take a Reading-With-Understanding Running Record to identify the cue-sources that are used and the cue-sources that are neglected. It will also become clear in the Running Record what reading strategies the student needs help to develop, and whether or not they are understanding what they are reading.

Reading-With-Understanding Running Record

Readers need to be able to understand written material when they read it silently. When a teacher begins to help students with their reading, the first task is to assess how well they get meaning from text they read silently. It is also important to identify if the material is too difficult. The Reading-With-Understanding Running Record has become a standard tool for getting this information.

The teacher presents the passage to the student saying, "This, passage is about ...( give a very brief statement in a sentence) ... I want you to read it to yourself, then tell me about it. "
After completing the silent reading, the student retells the passage to demonstrate his/her level of understanding. The teacher must recognise that at first some pupils may be unfamiliar with the task of retelling. This alerts the teacher to the need for some instruction in how to retell a passage.

Consideration should also be given as to how much can be taken in by the student in their first reading of a text. As an adult, retelling a newspaper editorial after a quick read will give you a feeling for what can reasonably be expected after one reading of a passage.

There are a variety of ways that students will retell text. One reader may give a global response: "It is about an expedition to the Chat.” Another may retell the passage in sequence; others may give main ideas; some may give unconnected items from the text.

The teacher's role at this stage is as a receiver of information – the neutral observer. The teacher should not question or engage in dialogue about the passage but simply record what the student says. It is useful to allow students to refer to the passage if they choose to do so.

When the retelling is completed and the points are recorded the student is instructed to read the passage aloud. The teacher then takes a Running Record (refer to Clay, 1993, An Observation Survey for information on how to do this). After the oral reading the teacher may seek clarification of points from the retelling by saying, "Did you find out anymore as you read it aloud?" or "I was not sure what you meant when you said that. Can you help me? "

The information gained about the student's reading and comprehension from a Reading-With-Understanding Running Record enables a teacher to find Easy, Instructional and Hard levels of text for each student.

97-100% Accuracy: Easy

92-96% Accuracy: Instructional

Below 91% Accuracy: Hard

Analysis of the Running Record at the Hard Level will show where the processes are breaking down and will give information on the use of the meaning, structure and visual cues.

A student may have read the text with 97-100% accuracy but have failed to demonstrate any real understanding of the text either in the retelling or in response to the probe questions. This information is crucial and indicates that the material is at the Hard Level, even if the Running Record taken of the student reading aloud indicates that the text is at Easy or Instructional level, since the student is not understanding what they are reading. The teacher will then plan for instruction accordingly.

Retelling is a useful indicator of understanding. Cambourne discusses it as a means of assessment in The Whole Story (1988: 173)

He points out that effective readers' retellings are:

  • well organised, with evidence of selection and organisation of relevant detail
  • typically contain the main points and/or essence of the original text
  • are often characterized by paraphrases which capture the original meanings with different vocabulary

He further points out that less able readers' retellings:

  • are usually lists of unconnected items or events from the original text
  • lack coherence and focus
  • sound like an incomprehensible maze of disconnected discourse
  • display little evidence of effective paraphrase
  • show unsuccessful rote memorisation of the precise words and phrases used in the original text

Cambourne (1988) concludes by stating that good readers:

  • know that they should work actively and deliberately towards making sense of (comprehending) what it is they are reading
  • are aware when comprehension is not occurring

Less-effective readers, as a group, do not have the same focus.

Reading-With-Understanding Running Record Administration Procedure

  1. Gather the texts (at the appropriate level) selected for Reading-With-Understanding Running Records.
  2. Set the student at ease while filling in name, class, age, and date on the scoring sheet.
  3. Introduce the passage by reading the title and saying:

    "This passage is about … and the people are ... I want you to read it to yourself, then tell me about it.”
  4. As the student retells the passage, record the points covered in UNDERSTANDING on summary sheet. Teachers will need to have read every selected passage and be aware of two or three main points in each before assessing the quality of the retelling. If a student shows complete understanding, do not take a Running Record: offer another passage at the same level of a different type of writing.
  5. After the retelling say:

    "Now you can read the passage to me carefully."

    Record all reading behaviour on the score sheet.
  6. After oral reading probe the student's understanding of the text by asking for further comment on points made in the retelling, eg

    "Tell me some more about ... Did you find out anything else?"

    One or two probes are sufficient. Enter the information on the Summary Sheet.
  7. Analyse the data using the Summary Sheet. Complete the form by setting teaching objectives.

Analysis: Refer frequently to these notes when learning how to analyse errors.

When analysing a student's reading, teachers might ask themselves
these questions:

Is the student trying to make sense of what is being read? (semantic cues ... meaning ... M) Does it make sense?

Is knowledge of language patterns being used? (syntactic cues ... structure ... S) Does that sound right?

Is knowledge of letters and their associated sounds being used? (graphophonic cues ... visual … V) Does that look similar?

Are confirmation and self-correction strategies being used?

Download and copy the Reading With Understanding Running Record
Summary Sheet

For further information and procedures see:

Clay, M. (3rd Edition 1987). The Early Detection of Reading Difficulties. New Zealand: Heinemann.

Kemp, M. (1987). Watching Children Read & Write. Melbourne: Nelson Australia.

Rowe, G., Lamont, H., Daly, M., Edwards, D. & Mayor Cox, S. (2000). Success with Reading & Writing: helping at-risk students 8-13 years. Victoria: Eleanor Curtain Publishing.

For more details on this text contact:

Eleanor Curtain Publishing
12 Claremont Street South Yarra Vic 3141
Tel: 613 9826 3222 Fax: 613 9826 9699