Running Record: Definition, Examples & Analysis

Instructor: Marquis Grant
This lesson will give definition, examples and analysis of running records used to assess student reading skills. A short quiz will follow to test your knowledge.

Running Records

Data collection and analysis allows teachers to make informed decisions about their students' academic progress. This is why teachers use running records, which are tools that allow instructors to keep tracks of their students' progress and identify patterns in their reading behavior as students are developing their reading and comprehension skills. Many teachers may prefer running records because they are fairly easy to administer and do not require extended periods of time to measure student reading behaviors.

The running record is used to collect and analyze information about students' reading abilities, specifically their error and self-correction rates. Examples of common reading errors include mispronouncing words, skipping words or sentences or adding words. You, as the teacher, would document these errors as the students are reading and record their accuracy rate on the running record form. Each time you assess students, you would record the information and observe whether the student is making progress and what additional support may be needed for those students who are not making growth in their reading skills.


Baseline data is information you will gather about your students at the very beginning of the school year that gives you an idea about each student's current level of reading performance. You may want to give a baseline within the first couple of weeks of school, depending on how often you will assess your students throughout the school year. Some teachers administer three assessments during the year, then also give periodic progress monitoring assessments. How often you decide to test your students will likely depend on whether more frequent monitoring is needed, especially for students who are demonstrating reading difficulties. Time may also be a factor, particularly if you are already crunched for time, so frequent progress monitoring may not be possible based on your schedule.

Materials Needed

Before you begin the task of assessing your students with the running records, you will need a few basic materials in order to get started:

  • Stopwatch or inexpensive kitchen timer to record your students' start and stop times.
  • Books or passages on different reading levels to accommodate students' present levels of performance. You may want to think about starting with a shorter passage in the beginning and gradually working your way to longer passages.
  • Running record forms. You will need multiple copies, so be sure to make enough for your entire class.

Assessing Student Performance

Students will be expected to read a set amount of words during the time limit that you, as the assessor, have determined. For example, you may decide that your third grade students need to read at least 100 words from a third-grade level passage in one minute in order to demonstrate proficiency, or successful ability.

Students will be expected to read the selected text aloud without attempting to rush through it. You will want to explain the procedure to them prior to the reading without assuming that they already know what to do. For example, you may say 'Today you will read aloud the passage in front of you. I will tell you when to start and stop. Do the best you can without rushing to finish reading.' This tells your students exactly what you expect of them and it puts them at ease knowing that they are not required to race through the reading because they fear getting a bad grade or penalty.

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