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Determining a child’s reading level takes more than asking a few simple questions or observing them in the classroom.

With multiple students to keep an eye on and assess, teachers can easily miss a child lagging behind his or her peers. To make a true assessment of where a student is with reading comprehension and retention, it’s important to do an ongoing assessment that evaluates all the skills they possess. The IRI assessment is one such evaluation designed to give educators a better idea of where students need help and how they progress over time.

Read on to learn more about the IRI reading assessment and how you can use it to help your students improve their reading comprehension levels.

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What is an Informal Reading Inventory, and How is it Used?

An Informal Reading Inventory is a way of measuring a child’s reading level on an ongoing basis and marking the progress they make over the long term. Rather than using an isolated test to see where a child’s reading level is, an ongoing assessment allows educators to measure growth, identify learning issues and get a better understanding of a child’s vocabulary level.

Depending on the child’s age and how much they seem to be struggling with reading, the assessment can be given multiple times over the school career, including:

  • Halfway through the kindergarten school year to begin benchmarking progress
  • At the end of the kindergarten year, before promotion to first grade
  • At the beginning of first grade, to see any learning loss over the summer break
  • Halfway through the first grade school year
  • At the end of the first grade

During second grade, the assessment is typically done with the same frequency as during first grade. In cases where children struggle more and may show signs of larger issues or learning disabilities, the assessment can be done more frequently to get a clearer picture of where issues lie and what can be done to help the student.

What Should You Expect During a qualitative reading inventory?

Before administering the assessment, you’ll need a Student Booklet and a Testing Manual. These materials will help you give the test and score it accurately.

During a qualitative reading inventory, you’ll assign the student a passage to read. To ensure the results are accurate, choose a passage that is at the appropriate grade level for the student. Allow him or her time to read the passage, then have the student complete the fluency and accuracy assessments. After completing this, you can ask the students questions to determine their understanding and how much vocabulary is retained from the reading.

Between what the testing booklet reveals and the answers you get to the questions you ask, you’ll start to develop a picture of what help you should provide to help the child reach grade level. This might include strategies like extra instruction, additional homework, or meeting with parents to ensure the student practices reading at home. As the student progresses, new techniques can be added to grow more skills and build on new learning.

What Comes Next After the qualitative reading inventory?

While the reading assessment will allow you to get a better idea of the student’s issues and how you can provide instruction to help them with these issues. Re-evaluate this plan every few weeks to address any progress you see the student making. With the right instruction and work from the student, an amazing amount of progress can be made as they go from one grade to another and grow their reading skills.