This page provides information on running records, how to administer them, and how to use the information to guide your reading instruction.


Running records are a quick assessment tool used by teachers to evaluate students' reading and comprehension.  They are used to help find students' reading levels, check their fluency, and find weaknesses in comprehension.

For more information, please read Reading A-Z's page on running records.


How to Begin:

Running records are done one-on-one with students.  They take only a few minutes to administer.

A baseline assessment should be conducted the first few weeks of school to find the reading levels of each child.

Assessments are repeated every 4-6 weeks, depending on the needs of the student.  This can be done during guided reading.  Anecdotal notes are also kept when giving the assessment.  The goal is to see if students are moving up the guided reading levels. 

Every running record form is kept in the students' files or portfolios, along with other forms of assessment.

Materials Needed:

Gather these materials ahead of time in order to make administering running records easier.

  • Various Leveled Books
  • Running Record Forms - to keep track of miscues and errors
  • Timer
  • Pencil
  • Calculator

I use Reading A-Z's benchmark leveled readers to administer running records.  They provide the books, running record forms, and comprehension questions for each level.

A cheaper alternative would be to use authentic books.  Make sure you have a pile of books on various levels.  Students do not need to read the entire book - just enough to gather information.  Determine ahead of time how much text the students will need to read, count the total words, and then subtract the miscues/errors to score the running record.

Administering the Running Record: (This is how I administer running records.  Other sites might differ, but it really is up to the teacher's discretion how he/she wants to administer the assessment.)

Explain to students that they will be reading a text aloud to you.  They should read the best they can.  If they come upon an unknown word, explain that you will give them some time to figure it out but if they don't, to skip the word and continue reading.

Next, show the students' the text and read the title.  You can give them a little information on the book if you like. 

Tell the student to begin reading the text.  As the child reads, you are following along with a copy of the text or on a running record form.  Note any errors, insertions etc. (See links below on miscue analysis).

If you notice that the text is TOO EASY or TOO DIFFICULT, stop immediately and send the child back to their seat or activity.  You will need to retest the child on a different level.

If the student finishes reading the text, you can have them do a retell of the story or ask comprehension questions.  This is to help assess their comprehension.  This is optional!

Score the test.  You are looking for the child's instructional reading level to place them in guided reading groups.  Retest the students until you are able to find their instructional reading level (see the Reading A-Z page on reading levels).

Timed or untimed - It is up to the teacher to decide if they would like to time the running record assessment.  I usually use a time of one minute only if I'm checking for fluency.

Other helpful pages from:

What Happens Next?

Once you have students' instructional reading levels, you can begin forming your guided reading groups.

Go to Guided Reading Page to see what happens in guided reading.

As the weeks pass, you may see that certain children are accelerating in their reading, or the opposite.  You can administer quick running record assessments during guided reading to analyze what the problems could be.

You can also administer running records every 4-6 weeks (or 3 times a year) as a benchmark of each child's progress.  This is kept in their file/portfolio as part of their assessment evaluation.

Our teachers keep a record of their class' scores using the Running Record Class List Form.  Here you can download a sample too.


Running Records and You - Great article!

Running Records - Answers common questions and shows samples

More information on running records -

Miscue Analysis - This page explains how to analyze running records and diagnose children's reading.

Graphic Organizer - Free sample of a running record page.  You can use this page with any text.

A Guide to Running Records -

Chapter 1 Running Records Information from Scholastic -

Accuracy Rate - Another page that defines independent, instructional, and frustrational reading levels