Making the Most of Running Records: Purpose and Professional Judgment
Many of the questions I receive about Scholastic’s Next Step Guided Reading Assessment (Richardson & Walther, 2013) lead me back to pondering the purpose of a running record. In an effort to clarify the purpose, I went back to the expert, Marie Clay. In her book Running Records for Classroom Teachers (Heinemann, 2000, pp. 3-4), she helps to explain the purpose of conducting an assessment of text reading and the importance of our sound professional judgment.
Purposes for Taking Running Records
• Assess a student’s text reading.
• Gather evidence of how well a reader is directing his or her knowledge of letters, sounds, and words to understand the messages in the text. Teachers can think about the things that challenged the reader and what the child does with the information he or she gains from the print.
• Guide teaching.Notice what the reader already knows, attended to,and/or overlooked. With this information, teachers can prompt, support, and challenge individual learners.
• Determine text difficulty.Teachers can check whether a text is at a suitable level of challenge for the reader.
• Capture progress.Teachers can make sound judgment about a reader’s progress through a gradient of difficulty in texts.
What I notice when I reread these purposes is that they are all related to understanding the READER, not assessing the TEACHER or the TEACHING.
Written by: Maria Walther, 1st Grade Teacher, Aurora, IL
Follow Maria on Twitter @mariapwalther