Assessment and Grouping in Guided Reading

Hi guys!

Raise your hand if you use Guided Reading in your classroom.
Raise your hand if you LOVE Jan Richardson as much as I do! I  met her last year at the NCRA and she was not only the nicest person, but her level of knowledge and attention to detail is absolutely humbling.
“The Next Step in Guided Reading” to me, is the BIBLE (yes, you read that right) of “reading” books. Today I am linking up with my BFF Marie from The Literacy Spot for her book study!


I know, I know… most of us hate to assess! In some cases we think that it takes from our instructional time and in some cases we feel that all these tests overlap and have no instructional value.

Assessment needs to drive our instruction in guided reading. It not only helps us figure out how to group our students, but also provides us with information about strategy instruction and text selection.
  1. Jan Richardson suggests that we use a variety of reading and writing assessments to identify reading levels and  to expose skills and strategies that our students need to learn.  Emergent and early readers will require more in depth assessments than transitional and fluent readers.
  2. In a nutshell these are the types of assessment that Jan Richardson recommend for the primary grades:

3. For transitional and fluent readers, Dr. Richardson  wants us to assess our students  using leveled passages with comprehension questions, including a very detailed oral retell, and a spelling inventory.

So what does it all mean? How do we use the assessment data to group our students for guided reading and strategy instruction?
In my opinion, a teacher gets the most  valuable information about a reader by conducting a running record. By analyzing a running record,  you should be able to determine text level and the strategies and skills you need to teach.
There is a catch though!
If you  decide to group your students by reading level only, you may not know if they need the same strategies and skills.
If you only group your students by strategies and skills only, you may not be able to find a text that your students can read at 90% accuracy. Therefore, they may not have enough opportunities to practice word solving strategies, deal with difficult sentence structure, and understand concepts or ideas they have never encountered in print. You really don’t want your small groups to look and sound like a bunch of skill work!

This  is an example of an old Guided Reading Schedule:


This grouping is the result of paying close attention to assessment data and informal conferences. There are some students that need my support  in small groups on a daily basis,  and others that see me in small groups only twice a week.
Because that is what they need.

Another thing that I wanted to mention is that we have to be careful not to let our guided reading groups turn into the ability grouping of the past. We must pay careful attention in forming and reforming groups to allow for the differences in learning that occur on a daily basis. Fountas & Pinnell clearly state this in “Guided Reading the Romance and the Reality:”

“The key to effective teaching is your ability to make different decisions for different students at different points in time, honoring the complexity of development.”


Just in case you are interested I wanted to showcase my “Main Idea and Details  Close Reading Strategy Pack.”  Even though this product is not directly linked to Guided Reading, it provides you with plenty of materials and relevant science content to challenge your students while providing enough practice in the whole gradual release of responsibility model. You may click on the picture to check it out from my TpT store!

I hope you found my post informational! I will see you guys soon,  I go back to school this week and I will be busy, busy, busy! When do you have to go back?