Informal and formal reading assessment
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Informal and Formal Reading Assessment. Strengths and Weaknesses . Why Should Parents Look at Assessments? . Reading Assessments provide feedback. Goals can be set to improve performance. Goals can be set to challenge students. Specific skills can be addressed.

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Informal and Formal Reading Assessment

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Informal and Formal Reading Assessment

Strengths and Weaknesses

Why Should Parents Look at Assessments?

  • Reading Assessments provide feedback.

  • Goals can be set to improve performance.

  • Goals can be set to challenge students.

  • Specific skills can be addressed.

  • Assessments provide an understanding of your child’s performance.

  • Formal assessments provide an individual numerical score compared to others within the state and /or nationwide.

Reading Assessments



  • Informal Reading Inventory ( IRI)

  • Informal Word Inventory ( WRI)

  • Running Records

  • Authentic Assessments

  • Kidwatching

  • Portfolios

  • Norm-Referenced Tests

  • Standardized Tests

  • Criterion-Referenced Tests

  • At this time we use FAIR (Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading). This a computer-based assessment which replaced the previously used assessment DIBEL used for Reading First.

Why Informal Assessment ?

  • Diagnostic assessments such as an informal reading inventory provides a starting point for instruction designed specifically for your child.

  • Differentiated instruction is based off of your child's strengths and weaknesses according to an array of informal assessments.

  • Further ongoing informal assessments such as teacher observations will show the big picture.

Informal Assessment Weakness

  • Screening Assessments examine just enough to identify those who need extra help.

  • Diagnostic tests cover many areas and may be hard to interpret.

  • You will not receive a “test report comparison to other students at their grade level” (Gillet, Temple & Crawford, 2008. p. 11).

  • There are numerous informal assessments.

  • Choosing and administering assessments may be subjective.

Informal Assessment Strengths

  • Screening Assessments show those who need help and are economical.

  • Diagnostic Assessments show specific needs of students.

  • Individual Diagnostic Instruments test specific skills.

  • Informal Reading Inventory, are more comprehensive and test many areas Authentic Assessments and Kidwatching show the big picture.

Why Formal Assessments ?

  • Standards-Bases Tests are required by the federal No Child Left Behind law ( FAIR)

  • Standardized tests such as Florida’s Comprehensive Assessment Test ( FCAT) shows growth of a whole grade level and school.

  • Outcomes-Based Assessments hold teachers and schools accountable for standards based learning.

  • “Standards-based tests are meant to assess each student’s performance on the standards set by the state” (Gillet, Temple & Crawford, 2008. Page 12).


There are four types of assessments in FAIR for k-2:

  • The Broad Screen/Progress Monitoring Tool given to all students in 3-5 min.

  • The Broad Diagnostic Inventory, which includes comprehension and vocabulary tasks

  • The Targeted Diagnostic Inventory

  • Ongoing Progress Monitoring Broad Screen/Progress Monitoring

Formal Assessment Weakness

“Formal reading tests do not reflect the reading process”

(Gillet, Temple & Crawford, 2008. Page 146).

Formal reading tests do not always provide students with

  • Prior knowledge

  • Interests

  • Motivation

  • Purpose for reading a passage

  • Strategies to construct meaning

Formal Assessment Weakness

  • Reading is not assessed in an authentic way.

  • Reading selections are short passages and comprehension is assessed by multiple choice questions.

  • Reading is timed

  • Formal reading tests do not match goals of instruction

  • Students are asked to recognize information not produce information.

Formal Assessment Strengths

  • Formal tests show mastery over certain information and operations.

  • They show numerical results that are easy to interpret and compare.

  • Formal testing are administered as a group and by a team.

  • All students receive the same instructions, examples, time limits.

  • Numerical scores are not subjective.

  • Formal tests are reliable and valid.

Assessments Working Together

What Can I Do To Help My Child?

What can I do to help my child ?

  • Conference with your child’s teacher.

  • Ask about assessments both informal and formal tests.

  • Work with your child on specific skills needed.

  • Be involved with your child’s education.

  • Children need to know you care and they also depend on you to build self-confidence, responsibility, and good study habits.

  • Children learn through modeling and you are their first teacher.

What Can I Do To Help My Child?


  • Students are tested using both formal and informal assessments.

  • Both types of assessments have strengths and weaknesses.

  • There are pros and cons to both assessments.

  • Data provides a guide as to what your child needs to work on.


Fotosearch. (2012). Bubble test stock photos and images. Retrieved from

Gillet, J. Temple, C. & Crawford, A. ( 2008). Understanding reading problems: Assessment and instruction. Boston, MA: Allyn Bacon by PearonsInc.

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