Determining Students' Literacy Levels Through Screening Assessments

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Meeting the Needs of Learners with Reading Disabilities

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 Literacy Assessments
  • 0:44 Types
  • 2:05 Emerging Assessments
  • 2:36 Decoding & Fluency
  • 3:46 Comprehension & Data
  • 4:43 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed Audio mode
Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Teachers use literacy assessments to determine specific student needs and focus instruction. This lesson describes the kinds of assessments used for important literacy skills.

Literacy Assessments

Today is David's first day in his new third grade classroom. His teacher, Ms. Stack, will spend some time with David administering assessments to get to know him better as a reader. These literacy assessments, or screenings, will help Ms. Stack gather important baseline data on David's literacy skills, including:

  • Phonemic awareness
  • Letter knowledge - phonics
  • Decoding
  • Fluency
  • Comprehension

Each of these screenings will give Ms. Stack a detailed and specific portrait of David, including his struggles and strengths. This will help her create instruction specific to his needs.

Let's follow along as Ms. Stack uses the different assessments with David.


Where should Ms. Stack begin? It's important to get as much information about a student as possible. If she doesn't dig deeply enough into David's skills, she may overlook a deficit. She'll go all the way back to basics to start.

Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear individual sounds in speech, which is the first step toward successful reading. Students need to be able to hear sounds in order to decode and encode words. Ms. Stack will give David a few assessments to see if he is able to break apart spoken words into different parts, such as syllables and sounds.

For example, she asks him how many phonemes are in the word 'cat'. David can identify three - c/a/t. Ms. Stack then asks David to take out the /c/ sound and tell her what the new word is. It's /a/t - at. All phonemic awareness testing is oral as it is based on hearing sounds and not visually recognizing letters.

Students also need to have a good understanding of how letters and sounds work together in reading. Ms. Stack will test David on his basic letter knowledge and ability to associate letters with sounds. She gives a simple assessment in which David identifies each letter by name and gives the associated sound. She also asks David to discriminate between upper- and lowercase letters. If he does well, she will move on to blends and digraphs.

Emerging Assessments

David is showing Ms. Stack he has a firm foundation of literacy skills. She moves on to a more comprehensive test of his reading ability. This assessment will provide her with details on David's reading ability in three areas: decoding, fluency, and comprehension. At the end of this assessment she will be able to determine David's reading level, a system used to show where a student is currently performing in reading development. This will help her to provide David with books he is able to read and learn from that aren't too easy or too difficult.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account