Reading - 3-Minute Reading Assessments

3-Minute Reading Assessments


Welcome to the wonderful world of reading.

Victoria Davids

Introduction to Word Recognition, Fluency & Comprehension Assessments

Assessment is a critical element of successful instruction. Assessment helps teachers determine if the instruction they provide students has resulted in adequate student progress. It allows teachers to identify students who can benefit from a more accelerated instructional program and those who need more intensive instructional intervention and support. Assessment allows teachers to identify a focus for their instruction with a road map that indicates where their children are academically, and where they need to go.

Research has indicated that assessment is critical to successful instruction. An international study of reading achievement found that regular assessment was a key factor associated with students success in learning to read (Postlethwaite & Ross, 1992).

In recent years, state and federal education mandates have required schools and school districts to more closely monitor student performance across a number of content areas and grade levels. These types of large-scale, typically norm-referenced assessments (in USD 458 we use STAR, MAPS and the Kansas Assessments) are most valuable for school administrators and policy makers in determining general trends in achievement and recommending policies and procedures at the national, state, and district levels for improving educational quality. For several reasons, however, these kinds of assessments cannot provide teachers with the information they need to make instructional decisions for individual students. While these norm-reference tests can provide information on how students compare to other students they don't provide information about the diagnostic needs or instructional direction teachers need to use with each student.

The Qualitative Reading Inventory (QRI) (Leslie & Caldwell, 2000) are hybrids of commercial standardized tests that include a strong informal, teacher-interpretation component. These assessments provide teachers with an in-depth view of their students as readers- their level of achievement and, to some extent, their various strengths and areas of concern in reading. If you would like to have the QRI given to your student please contact Victoria Davids at 913-724-1038 to set up a date and time for testing. The full-scale administration of a QRI can take one hour to give and then additional time to discuss the results with you and talk about a reading plan for your child.

Advantages of 3-minute Reading Assessments

Timothy Rasinski and Nancy Padak developed a set of assessments to provide a quick way to obtain valid diagnostic information about students' reading achievement. In fewer than five minutes, you can use this system to measure a child's progress and identify areas of strength and concern that may need special and intensive instruction. You will be able to sample a student's reading and determine his or her level of performance in three critical areas-word recognition (decoding), reading fluency, and comprehension. The information obtained from these quick reading assessments will enable you to monitor your student's progress over time across these three dimensions of reading and identify areas of special needs for your child.

What's Included in 3-Minute Reading Assessments

This Introduction provides you with a full set of specific directions for administering these assessments with scoring and interpretation guides for each of the three major areas covered by the assessments (note that fluency is assessed in two distinct dimensions- fluency-automaticity and fluency-expression). Included are:

1. the procedure for calculating word recognition accuracy ,

2. a chart for measuring fluency through reading rate ,

3. a scale for figuring fluency through expression

4. a rubric for determining comprehension .


The passages themselves are divided into four grade level sections. Each grade level section includes four equivalent forms (A through D). To vary subject matter and maintain interest, the forms are organized by themes: Form A passages pertain to family outings; Form B passages to foods; Form C passages to extreme weather; and Form D to unique individuals. For each form there is a student age, which includes the passage only and is intended for direct use with the students, and an accompanying teacher page. The teacher page reproduces the passage and gives you additional information, such an overall word count and the word length of each printed line. In addition, at the bottom of each teacher page, a scoring section enables you to jot down the student's scores as you figure them, as well as any additional comments.

I strongly recommend recording the data yielded by the assessments, and to make keeping these records easy, I provided a Student Record Sheet for your use. This chart will allow you to highlight areas where performance is below your expectations as well as areas with no growth over time. In order to help you address targeted areas of concern, I have include a brief section of Instructional Ideas for each of the three major areas assessed. These ideas are just a springboard for each topic.


A Word About Readability Determination

As described above, four different passages for each grade level are presented in separate grade level sections. Rasinski and Padak spent considerable time checking the readability of these passages before designating each to be at a specific grade level. They applied either all or several of the following formulas: the Flesch Reading Ease Formula; the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Formula: the Fry Readability Graph, the Spache Readability Formula: and the Dale-Chall Readability Formula. As well as their own expertise as professors of literacy and researchers to level the passages.

In the end, readability is often a matter of judgment. It is well known that readability results will vary depending on which formula is used and that each formula has its own limitations and drawbacks. That said, there are currently no better alternatives that offer a more accurate or efficient approach to determining grade level for a particular reading passage.

A few additional notes about grade levels and how these assessments have been set up. Have students read passages at their assigned school-year grade levels because this will help you determine their level of performance on passages that they are expected to master during that school year. Those students who struggle with the grade-level passage will need additional diagnosis. Retesting these students on grade-level test passages throughout the school year will easily allow you to gauge their growth.

Directions for Administering 3-Minute Reading Assessments



Testing Passages :

Grade 1 Passages

Grade 2 Passages

Grade 3 Passages

Grade 4 Passages

Grade 5 Passages

Grade 6 Passages

Grade 7 Passages

Grade 8 Passages

References for 3-Minute Reading Assessments in Word Recognition, Fluency and Comprehension:

* Biemiller, A. (2003). Oral comprehension sets the ceiling on reading comprehension. American Educator, 23, 44.

* Leslie, L., & Caldwell, J. (2000). Qualitative reading inventory (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

* Postlethwaite, T.N., & Ross, K.N. (1992). Effective school in reading: Implications for educational planners. The Hague: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement

* Rasinski,T., & Padak, N,.(2005). 3-Minute reading assessments: word recognition, fluency & comprehension. New York, NY: Scholastic.


If your child has difficulty with grade level reading material please contact me at either through district email: vdavids AT usd458 DOT org or you can call 913-724-1038 to schedule a time to diagnose and plan a reading program to help your child succeed.

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