Professional Development

September 2, 2020

Best Practices for Virtual Reading Assessments

Distance learning has so many challenges – technology, student engagement, parent involvement (too much or too little), and the list goes on. Before distance learning reading instruction can take place, teachers will have to complete virtual assessments for each of their students.

Without getting some best practices in place, it can be difficult to get virtual reading assessments done for 20+ students. To help you be more efficient and effective, I came up with some tips and suggestions for how to best manage virtual assessments so that you can start reaching every reader exactly where they are.

1. Inform parents about the assessments you’re going to do.

Prior to starting testing, send home a note or email and explain to parents the types of assessments you will be doing, why you are doing them, and how the results will help guide your teaching.

When you get parents to buy-in on the importance of assessing students at the beginning, middle, and end of the year, they’re much more willing to cooperate and help you help their child.

I included both a note and an email you can share with parents in my Guided Reading Assessment Kit!

2. Get students comfortable with you before starting virtual assessments.

In the regular classroom, we don’t do reading assessments during the first week of school so we can build rapport with students and get to know them. For distance learning, virtual reading assessments should be the same. Spend some time having regular live class meetings, get to know you meetings, and an introduction to assessments meeting with your class.

In a whole or small group live class meeting, let students know what to expect for their reading assessments. I liked to tell students I was going to see how smart they were instead of using the words “testing” or “assessments”.

In my Virtual Guided Reading for Distance Learning Guide, I share a PowerPoint template to use for a first time small group meeting so that you can easily get to know your readers with a fun game!

3. Create a schedule for parents to sign up their child for their assessments.

Create a schedule on SignUp Genius with assessment slots for parents to sign up. Think about how long each in-person reading assessment would take you and add a few more minutes for each child to account for technical difficulties. If possible, set up a variety of time slots so that all students can be tested.

Remember that reading assessments in the classroom can typically take two to three weeks to complete. You don’t have to hold an unrealistic expectation of completing virtual assessments quickly and all in one week. Take your time and pace yourself so you don’t get burned out.

4. Use a pre-reading assessment first.

To help you get a full picture of your students’ reading capabilities, start with a pre-reading assessment. This could be the TPRI or any other similar assessment your district uses. Find out if students know their letters, letter sounds, and sight words.

This will help you know where to start on reading level assessments. These components are equally informative and helpful for you to know as their reading levels. You can document where each child started, monitor their progress, and use the data to help move them forward.

5. Find each student’s instructional reading level.

Next, do the virtual reading assessment for each student. Gather all of your supplies and keep them handy. Then, share your screen with a digital text for the student to read while you take a running record and ask the student comprehension questions. Decide if the level is independent, instructional, or frustrational and record the reading level.

This will help you know where each student is and how to start forming guided reading groups.

6. Remember to assess more than just the reading level.

Finally, remember that finding the guided reading level for each student is important, but it is also just a piece of the whole reader. When you are taking running records, listening to students read, and asking comprehension questions, make anecdotal notes about each reader.

  • How deep is the reader thinking about the text?
  • How is this reader’s phonemic and phonological awareness?
  • How confident is this child when reading and talking about the text?
  • Does this child enjoy talking about books?
  • What are this chid’s reading interests?

We need reading levels to launch guided reading. We also need to know all of the other small, but important, pieces of information. This can help form strategy guided reading groups, inspire mini-lessons, help develop your teaching points for interactive read alouds, and so much more.

We want the whole picture of our young readers, not just a letter for a reading level.

Guided Reading Virtual Assessments Made Easy

The Guided Reading Assessment Kit is the solution to figuring out how to complete reading assessments with students virtually. Between the detailed teacher guides for both in-person and virtual assessments and the beautifully illustrated texts, you’ll be able to get an accurate baseline for each student’s reading.

The assessment kit includes:

  • 2 texts for each level A-M: A nonfiction and a fiction text in printable and digital formats
  • Running records, comprehension questions, and a rubric for each book
  • Detailed teacher instructions for delivering the assessment in person and virtually and how to take a running record
  • Parent note to send home or email to let them know what to expect
  • Date sheet for recording data at the beginning, middle, and end of the year

No more trying to figure out how to get books to students to complete reading assessments. No more trying to figure out how to pivot to virtual assessments on your own. No more stress.

Grab the Guided Reading Assessment Kit today for testing made easy!

Happy Teaching,


8 Get to Know You Games for Distance Learning

Getting to know your students can be trickier while distance learning. Grab this FREE printable with eight get-to-know-you games and activities so that you can start connecting with students, help them get to know each other, and build a positive classroom community.

Hi, I'm Amanda

I’m a K-1 teacher who is passionate about making lessons your students love and that are easy to implement for teachers.  Helping teachers like you navigate their way through their literacy block brings me great joy. I am a lifelong learner who loves staying on top of current literacy learning and practices. Here, you’ll find the tools you need to move your K-2 students forward!


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