Monday, July 22, 2019

Reading Comprehension: The Qualitative Reading Assessment

If you're looking for a quick and easy reading assessment that yields a great deal of information, you can't go wrong with the QRI. Short for the Qualitative Reading Assessment, this assessment is my go-to for start of year assessment.

Because this is a commonly used text for professional classes, it's easy to pick up a used one for an affordable price. I'm still using the 5th Edition, although there is a more recent one available.

Because you get a spiral book, there is a bit of test set up required. However, it's all easy to manage with a school copy machine and some basic supplies.

The QRI consists of two parts: Word Lists and Comprehension Passages.

Word Lists

My co-teacher and I administer the word lists as soon as possible in the first few days of school. Like many other reading tests, students move through sets of words that get more and more difficult. For students with known past reading problems, I start at the Pre-Primer or Primer level. For students who are likely to be on grade level, I start at Level 2 or 3. Each list has 20 words, and I usually stop when students fall below a 14/20 or seem to be getting frustrated. Because I teach sixth grade, I rarely go past the Upper Middle School list.

As you can see in the photo, I give kids a copy of the words on the a word ring. Copied onto cardstock, the word lists are durable and last for years. I used a clipboard to lean on. If the weather is nice, we go outside! (Other students are doing independent reading during this time.)

After I've heard students read, I always give a bit of positive feedback about what I heard. "I liked hearing how you tried some tricky words," or "It was fun to hear you read a word list with

I can learn so much from hearing kids read lists of words aloud! I do write down missed attempts at word solving because these attempts help me to see patterns of decoding and figure out the best ways to help students.

Because it's so early in the year, I keep the entire interaction upbeat, fun, and most of all, brief. We get through the word lists within 3 days.

Comprehension Passages

I've learned to really like the comprehension passages from the QRI. There are multiple options for each grade level labeled as narrative and expository, giving me a wide range of options from which to choose.

Where do I start students? Because I'm doing the QRI for my own purposes, I get to decide! My co-teacher and I usually look at the students' word list results and go with the student's instructional level. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. For a shy or timid student, we might choose a text at an independent level to build the child's confidence. I know that I can always go and pull another passage if I need to.

I keep passage copies in a file box and add more copies as needed. (This is a great copying task for a volunteer or a substitute!) Because I've switched grade levels a bit, my file box is a mish-mash of recycled folders. Oh well.

Each comprehension passage includes 6-8 comprehension questions, sorted as literal and inferential. I do a timed reading, prefacing it by saying, "I will have the timer going, but I'm much more interested in hearing your expression and your word-solving than in seeing how fast you can go." (I hate it when I go to listen to a student read and they take a big gulp of air before starting. That's so not the point!)

The QRI includes a retelling section. I'm often tempted to skip it, because it does take some time, but it's a useful tool to help students think about how much they remember from a selection. Also...well, as the author of a book called Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Retelling, I feel that I shouldn't skip a retelling task!

My favorite part of the QRI is that I write down the student's answers, which means that I'm getting a clear picture of the student's reading and not their writing.

I also like to see the breakdown of student scores on inferential vs. literal questions. A student who does well on one but not the other will need some different instruction than a student who misses questions equally from both areas.

Sometimes a first assessment doesn't answer our questions about a student's reading. In this case, my co-teacher and I will often move up or down.

All in all, the QRI is my favorite start of year reading assessment! What's yours?