Assessing oral reading fluency

Oral reading fluency should be assessed using a range of approaches to encompass development in relation to accuracy, pace and expression. Informal teacher observation should be documented in careful notes taken during shared reading and guided reading sessions. More formal tools such as running records which are discussed below should be used regularly to benchmark progress in reading accuracy. Finally, the children should be encouraged to partake in self assessment using student-centred rubrics. Rubrics should be holistic in nature to ensure that reading pace and expression are valued as much as reading accuracy. We will examine the use of rubrics at the end of this section.



Running Records

A running record is a reading assessment tool used by teachers to determine a student's reading level. It allows the teacher to analyse the types of reading errors a student makes. It highlights a student overuse or underuse of decoding, and semantic and syntactic knowledge. Running records should be used frequently to benchmark student progress.

Steps in a running record:


  1. Choose a text that is 100-150 words in length that is unfamiliar to the student.
  2. Use the form below to document the errors that the student makes
  3. Devise 5-10 comprehension questions based on the passage.
  4. Determine the student's reading level using the formula outlined in the document below


  • No more than 1 in 20 words are difficult for the reader
  • (95%-100% accuracy)


  • No more than 1 in 10 words are difficult for the reader
  • (90%-94% accuracy)


  • Very difficult text for the reader with more than 1 in 10 difficult words
  • (less than 90% accuracy)

5. Analyse the student's errors using the key outlined in the document below.






Further reading

For comprehensive instructions on how to conduct and score a running record see the link below:


To view an reading record being analysed click on the video (YouTube link) below



Fluency rubrics can be created collaboratively between teacher and students following a discussion. The number of indicators included in the rubric will depend on the age and ability of the children. The rubric can then be used during shared reading and it guided reading sessions. The teacher can lead a discussion on fluency based on the rubric, perhaps by using the 'two stars and a wish' approach (two things you did well and one thing to work on). Here are some examples of rubrics that could be used in the junior classes. The first example is suitable for the beginning reader as it is mainly visual. The other examples include more text.