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Literacy Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Literacy assessment tools and processes

These assessment tools and processes are particularly useful for gathering information about the literacy achievement of year 1–3 students.

Read more about assessment tools for English language learners

School Entry Assessment

This is a formal assessment designed for children starting school. It includes three tasks. The child is assessed on their retelling of a story, their understanding of concepts about print, and their skills in numeracy.

The Observation Survey

An Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement is a key assessment procedure for finding out about learners. Developed by Marie Clay, it includes six tasks for systematically observing children who have been at school for one year. Because of its detailed attention to specific essential early literacy behaviours, this survey helps to identify students who appear to be making uneven progress after one year at school.

Concepts about print
  • What is this student attending to? - rightly or wrongly?
Letter identification
  • What is the main form of responding? That is, by letter name, sound, or a word for which that letter is the initial letter or sound?
  • What are the confusions? What do they show?
Word reading
  • Are there confusions that emerge in this task that are consistent with those made in the running record on continuous text?
Writing vocabulary
  • How well is this student building control over a basic writing vocabulary?
  • Does this student use a word he knows to write another word, for example, look, book?
  • Does the student articulate the word they can’t write fluently?
  • How well is this student building control over a basic writing vocabulary?
Hearing and recording sounds in words
  • Is the student able to represent some or all of the sounds s/he hears (phonemes) to letters/ letter clusters (graphemes)?
  • What is the student’s pattern of responding? For example, is the student able to hear and record dominant sounds? Or sounds in isolation? Or sounds in sequence? Or the first and last sounds of a word?
Reading of continuous text (with the teacher taking running records as the student reads aloud)

Running Records

Running Records can be used to assess students reading aloud from any text and in any setting. They provide a framework for systematically observing a student’s reading processing system.

Taking regular Running Records is essential as part of monitoring students’ learning needs. Running Records are particularly useful for students who may be at risk of not making the expected progress in reading.

Running Records are also commonly used to confirm a student’s ability to move to another colour wheel level.

  • What is this student able to do on text?
  • What is this student starting to do?
  • What is this student neglecting or not doing on text?
  • What sources of information are being used?

For further information about the use and analysis of running records, see Using Running Records: A Resource for New Zealand Classroom Teachers.

Record of Oral Language

The Record of Oral Language is a measurement tool that observes changes in the student’s acquisition of language structures. It is intended primarily for students in the early years of school and can also be used with English language learners. It provides a guide for teaching. See page 38 of Learning Through Talk: Oral Language in Years 1 to 3 for more information.

For more information, see Clay, M., Gill, M., Glynn, T., McNaughton, T., Salmon, K., (2007). Record of Oral Language (New Edition). Auckland: Heinemann

Conversations, conferences, and interviews

Talking with a student about their learning helps teachers to build their knowledge of that learner by:

  • gathering information about the student’s progress and discussing this with the student
  • learning about the students’ personal interests and their attitudes to learning
  • identifying and discussing problems or obstacles to learning that the teacher may not have been aware of
  • providing personalised specific feedback
  • agreeing on goals for further learning.

Observation in the classroom setting

A great deal of information gathering occurs informally during classroom activities. Structured observations can be planned at any time for a particular purpose. Observe all students in a range of literacy and cross-curricular activities.

Published on: 15 Sep 2017