Levels and Strategies of Informal Reading Assessments

Educators must first determine the reading level of their students before beginning any reading instruction. An Informal Reading assessment is one method of accomplishing this.

A teacher administers an informal reading assessment to each student to examine their skills, shortcomings, and to determine their reading apprehension. The IRA measures a person’s ability to recognize and comprehend words.

Since the reading assessment is informal, it means that outcomes are kept and used to inform teaching tactics and instruction on an ongoing basis. This evaluation is also known as qualitative assessment since it places a high value on the teacher’s ability to observe the student closely.

An informal assessment is not quantifiable or statistically measurable, unlike an official assessment that assesses progress by taking a standardized test.

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Levels of Informal Reading Assessments

The instructor must analyze and interpret the four levels of an informal reading assessment to develop reading instruction. Independent, instructional, frustration, and hearing capacity are a few levels to consider.

It’s important to remember that the correctness percentage may vary depending on the IRA. Let’s take a look at each of these IRA reading levels in more detail.

1. Independent Level

The independent level considers the text and words that a learner is able to read on their own, with 97% to 100% accuracy. Comprehension should be between 90% and 100% correct at this level.

2. Instructional Level

At this level, students should be able to recognize and understand 92% to 96% of the words they hear. Direct reading teaching should be given to pupils at this level in the regular classroom.

3. Frustration Level

In this context, “frustration level” refers to a student’s inability to progress in their reading comprehension because of the difficulty of the material. Word recognition rates typically fall below 92%, while comprehension rates fall below 70%

4. Hearing Capacity Level

The level of comprehension kids have when listening to a text being read to them is their Hearing Capacity. It is important to remember that a student’s reading ability may be lower than their hearing ability. This discrepancy suggests that the student may benefit more from listening training than reading education.

Purpose of Informal Reading Assessments

Teachers might utilize informal reading assessments to gauge their students’ progress in reading comprehension. A teacher can better understand each reader and their reading habits by allowing them to read aloud individually. But asides this, the use of an informal reading assessment serves the following purposes:

  • To determine the causes of one’s reading difficulties and a student’s reading level.
  • IRA provides subjective data to support standardized testing.
  • It also gives tailored instruction to each student’s needs, including the students’ location and the resources used.
  • To recognize and help struggling readers.

Teachers must first establish what they want to learn about a student’s reading skills before conducting an evaluation. The IRA becomes a valuable tool after a teacher selects what to assess.

Classroom-Based Informal Assessments

It is possible to use a variety of informal evaluation measures to measure reading comprehension. Teachers can make use of the resources listed below.

1. Recognizing letters and sounds

To learn to read, children must become familiar with the letters of the alphabet. Unknown letters and their sounds should be the focus of instruction. Students should recognize both upper and lowercase letters. Children’s ability to distinguish letters and sounds is tested.

Learning to recognize letters is a no-brainer for many youngsters when they start school. Students are less familiar with the sounds of the letters. Kindergarteners learn about both of these concepts.

At the beginning of the school year, mid-year, and at the end of each year, teachers should test students’ letter/sound recognition.

2. Ideas about print literacy

Reading and storytelling at home and school introduce youngsters to books and print regularly, often by accident. Print concepts include the knowledge that words, letters, sentences, and spaces have meaning.

Understanding the purpose of books and the many components of a book ( front cover, back cover, and spine) are all part of this process. After a while, kids pick up on more complex concepts, such as the fact that we start reading on the left and across the page until we get to the last word on the right.

Some youngsters in kindergarten have an excellent grasp of print principles, while others will learn more as the year progresses.

At the beginning and the halfway point of the school year, evaluate your child’s understanding of print. Students that need extra help should be identified, and you should adjust the speed of instruction accordingly.

2. Phonological Recognition

Reading instruction needs to teach students about sounds and how they work. Children can show that they know about sounds in different ways. As a classroom teacher, you need to know your strengths and weaknesses to plan your lessons.


When you understand onset-rime, you can put together the first sound Phonemes. Phoneme matching means figuring out which words start with the same sound.

The term ‘phoneme isolation’ means being able to pick out just one sound from a word. Phoneme blending is the skill of putting together different sounds to make a word.

The ability to separate the sounds in a word into their parts is Phoneme segmentation. Phoneme manipulation means altering, moving, or changing the order of the sounds in a word.

Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension tests are the most common kind of reading test that can be found in print. The most common way to test a child’s reading comprehension is to have the child read a passage appropriate for their age or grade level and then ask clear, detailed questions about the passage.

There are different ways to test basic reading comprehension. For example, instead of asking the child to answer questions about facts directly from the text, the child could be asked to answer questions about the information that is implied in the text or to tell the story in their own words.

Oral reading fluency

This test shows teachers how well a student can read aloud by giving them information about their reading level. It lets the teacher listen and track how the student reads, such as how many mistakes they make, if they change words, or if they need help from the teacher.

This assessment doesn’t give a lot of information. For example, it doesn’t test phonological skills, vocabulary, or the ability to understand. This is why it is often given along with other tests, such as the informal reading inventory, to measure reading skills. You should never use it by itself.

Note: When kids read aloud, they usually focus on getting the words right and don’t pay as much attention to understanding what they’re reading. Also, if this test is given to students who are just starting to learn English, it should be done in both English and the child’s first language.

Strategies for Informal Assessment

You may monitor your pupils’ progress and change your teaching methods by teaching online, in-person, or in a hybrid manner. You can utilize these five simple methods to evaluate your classes throughout the semester and after each lecture.

1. Be on the lookout for clues

Take a look around. This is something you’re probably already doing. Examine and decipher nonverbal signs, such as body language, facial expressions, and written language in online discussions.

As soon as you break your class into smaller groups, it’s difficult to track what’s being learned in each one. The +1/-1 count approach makes it simple to gauge the size of a room.

Track the number of students in each group as you travel around the room or listen in on the chatter. It’s a plus one when someone remembers or uses a lesson appropriately; a minus one when you hear someone misinterpret. Then, gather everyone together for a short reset when you get to a certain number (such as -3).

2. When in doubt, ask for clarification

To uncover any misunderstandings, ask your students a series of questions to measure their level of knowledge. Alternatively, you can invite students to come up with three highlights and one remaining question after a lecture.

When students ask questions, you get a sense of the kinds of misunderstandings that exist. Which concepts are still confusing your students? In future classes, you can utilize that information to address those issues.

3. Check for morale

Ask students for input frequently and make it clear that you utilize it to improve the learning experience. Although many teachers will stop mid-lesson to check for questions, this assumes that students who have questions are confident enough to state that they may be the only ones who don’t understand.

Instead, have everyone raise their hands to signify how comfortable they are with the material (one finger for no confidence, two for low confidence, and three for high confidence). Quickly gauge the level of performance in your class with this. Surveys and polling options are also available online.

4. Perform a search using the database

Take advantage of any metrics you have available to see if there are any trends in student participation. Some metrics flag pupils who are failing early on.

Is the trend going up or down? How much time are students spending on a particular subject? Are students returning to the activity after they’ve dropped out? You should also pay attention to the people you’re interacting with online and the inquiries you’re getting.

5. Take deliberate actions

Every interaction with pupils is an opportunity to learn something new about them and their learning. Students’ needs and progress should be constantly monitored and incorporated into your teaching methods.

As you observe, inquire, check-in, and scan for ideas to aid your students and enhance the methods you employ in the classroom, keep this in mind:

To Wrap Up

Informal readings assessments provide students with feedback and data on their reading comprehension skills. They can provide students with feedback on where they can improve their skills to help students become more fluent and improve their comprehension skills. 

Informal assessments provide students with opportunities to develop their reading skills in a classroom environment, which is valuable for students with special needs or those practicing a second language. 

Informal assessments provide opportunities for students to develop and improve their reading skills in an informal, supportive, comfortable setting. 

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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