What are Running Records?
A running record is a record of errors, or miscues, that readers make as
they are reading. Running Records were developed by Dr Marie Clay as a
way for teachers to quickly and easily assess their students’ reading
behaviours “on the run”, so to speak.
Running Records capture what the reader did and said while reading.
They capture how readers are putting together what they know in order
to read. They allow teachers to describe how children are working on
text. They allow teachers to hear how children read – fluent, phrased,
word by word, acknowledging punctuation, or on the run.
(Further reference: Clay, M “Running Records for Classroom Teachers)
Why do Running Records?
Running Records are intended to:
Ascertain a child’s instructional book level (IBL)
Monitor ongoing student progress in reading
Find out which particular skills and strategies students are using
Establish specific needs of the children
Group together children with similar needs for reading instruction
Choose books at an appropriate level for your students
Ken Goodman says that reading “miscues” are “windows into the reading
process”. They can give you a clear picture of the cueing systems that
each student knows how to use and which systems they need to learn.
Having this kind of information about your students is invaluable when
planning your next teaching steps and when working with individuals and
It is essential that we ascertain the child’s “instructional” reading
level as it is at this level that the child can learn.
*When you are asked to provide a child’s reading level it is the
INSTRUCTIONAL LEVEL which is required!
Taking the Running Record
1. Sit the child beside you and explain that you want them to read
this book independently.
2. Read the title of the book.
3. Do a book orientation (BO) – give a brief synopsis of the story line,
introducing characters. Don’t give the solution to the conflict.
(Note* - record “S” (seen) at top if child has read book before)
4. Use a record form or blank sheet of paper to mark reading
behaviour and to record miscues. (Optimal at least 100 words)
5. When a child stops during reading, it is important that you allow
enough time for her to work on a problem before you supply the
word. It is also important that you don’t wait so long that they lose
the meaning of the story while trying to solve the unknown word.
6. Use a standardised system to record the reading – words read
correctly, substitutions, omissions, deletions, self-corrections etc.
7. REMEMBER – RECORD NOW, TEACH LATER. To achieve
objectivity in records of reading behaviour it is necessary for
teachers to be recorder of the behaviour and not a stimulus of
behaviour. All comments, teaching points, helpful replies, leading
questions and pointing guides have to be dispensed with entirely
during a running record.
8. It is important to record how the reading “sounded” – staccato,
phrased, fluent (mostly, sometimes, little).
9. Do a brief book response – make a brief comment about the story
shows child you have been listening.
How often should we take running records?
Running records are taken with the greatest frequency at the
earlier stages of reading.
Children not progressing at the expected rate should be assessed
even more frequently than the schedule suggested below.
Reader Levels Frequency
Emergent readers Levels 0 - 9 every 4 weeks
Upper emergent readers Levels 10 - 14 every 4 - 6 weeks
Early fluent readers Levels 15 - 20 every 6 weeks
Fluent readers Levels 21+ every 8 weeks
Analysing running records
The most common miscue is the substitution of another word for the one
that is in the text.
To understand what miscues reveal about the reading process, you need
to know something about the cueing systems:
1. Meaning (semantic) cues – applying background knowledge and the
context of the sentence or passage to identify words.
2. Visual (graphophonic) cues – applying what is known letter-sound
correspondences to decode words.
3. Syntactic (sentence structure) cues – applying what is known
about how our language goes together to identify words.
Checking for comprehension
1. If self-correction rate (SCR) on the Instructional book is less
than 1:3, children are self-monitoring their own reading ie. using
their comprehension skills on the run.
2. Have the students retell the story in their own words. They could
sequence of events,
3. For a quicker and more objective comprehension check use
comprehension questions ask a combination of literal and
Warners Bay Public School
Running Records - Conventions
Reading Behaviour Convention Counted as
Accurate reading No
Repetition R No
Self-correction SC No
Try that again TTA No
Pauses P No
Substitution ----------- Yes
Insertion/ addition - or ^ Yes
Appeal / Told A/T Yes
Spelt/ Individual sounds BOAT / b-o-a-t Yes
*Teacher prompts “Have a go” TP No
Contractions count as 1 error
Multiple unsuccessful attempts at a word are counted
as one error
Repeated errors with proper nouns counts as an error
the first time only
Each insertion counts as an error therefore you can
have more errors than text
Skipped line – each word counts as an error or say
“Try that again” (TTA)
Pronunciation differences are not counted as errors
Skipped page – either get them to read it or subtract
the number of words on that page from the total
number of words to be read.
Warners Bay Public School
Running Records – Calculations
Error Rate Percent Accuracy Reading Level
1:100 99 EASY
1:14 93 INSTRUCTIONAL
1:7 85.5 DIFFICULT/ HARD
RW = Running words, E = Errors, SC = Self-corrections
Running Words = Ratio = Percentage Reading level (See table above)
Eg. 150 = 1:10 = 90% Instructional level