Professional Development

April 29, 2024

End of Year Literacy Assessment Tools: A How To Guide

When I was in the classroom, reading assessments looked like this: a large DRA box, a stack of running records that were to be carefully analyzed, leveled texts with lots of wear and tear, and maybe some checklists. But now that we know what we know, thanks to the science of reading research, we can and should have more effective literacy assessment tools.

I have been tutoring a student this semester and working to continue building strong reading skills. As our time is coming to a close, I knew there were four areas I wanted to assess: phonics skills, dictation, fluency, and comprehension.

I’m going to share what my favorite literacy assessment tools are. I’m also going to share how to do end of year literacy assessments with these literacy assessment tools.

Phonics Assessment

The first area I wanted to assess was phonics. We had been working in this area with a lot of explicit instruction. I wanted to see if the student had retained what had been taught. I also wanted to see if the student was retaining skills the student came with, but that we had not reviewed explicitly in our time together.

The tricky thing about the phonics assessment is that the phonics progression the assessment followed wasn’t perfectly aligned with the phonics progression used in the classroom. (Unfortunately, I was unable to get my hands on the school’s phonics progression, so I did the best I could.) The good news is that it was aligned with the interventions we did, but not the past years of phonics instruction.

If you need a phonics assessment, you can find one HERE in my free reading toolkit!

Phonics Assessment How-To

This part of the assessment took me no longer than 3 minutes. It’s simple!

  1. Give your student the word lists one at a time.
  2. Ask them to read each word. As they do, write their response if they read it wrong.
  3. Then, go back and analyze what they decoded incorrectly.

Download yours and be set!

In the end, the phonics assessment showed me which skills had been mastered and which had not been mastered. I also was able to identify some patterns in the student’s decoding errors. This was super valuable information. I noticed that most of the errors made were due to letter reversals. For example, “did” was read as “bib”.

Dictation Assessment

The next area I wanted to assess was dictation. If reading in input, writing is output. We know that a phonics skill is solidified when we see students use it consistently in their writing. Besides gathering writing samples (which is great!), a dictation assessment is wonderful literacy assessment tool to use for phonics knowledge!

The dictation assessment I used has sentences strategically written to follow the phonics progression.

Grab a FREE Dictation Assessment using the same Reading Toolkit download above!

Dictation Assessment How-To

This part of the assessment took more time than the phonics assessment, probably about 10 minutes. If I were in a classroom full of kids, I’d either do it as a whole group (with privacy folders–“offices” as we called them) or in small groups of 4 students at my reading table.

  1. Read aloud the sentence to the student(s).
  2. Students will write the sentence on their blank paper.
  3. Continue until all are done, or you see that the student is struggling too much to continue.
  4. Then, go back and analyze the data to see what sounds they missed in their writing.
  5. Look for similarities between the dictation assessment and the phonics assessment.

Fluency Assessment and Comprehension Assessment

The final two pieces I wanted to assess were fluency and comprehension. We had been working on decoding during our time together, and I was eager to see if it increased fluency. The more fluent a student reader is, the more it helps reading comprehension.

To do this, I used a decodable passage that had opportunities to practice every skill we worked on and that the student had been taught previously. I pulled two passages from the end of my Vowel Team Decodable Passages kit.

Fluency Assessment How-To

This section of the assessment took the longest, but still no longer than 15 minutes. We started with the first passage.

  1. Choose your passage and give it to the student.
  2. Time the student as they read. Take notes about their pace and voice inflection. Take notes about any words read wrong.
  3. Count the words in the passage and calculate the words per minute.
  4. Analyze the words read incorrectly and look for commonalities between the phonics assessment, dictation assessment, and now the reading passage.

Reading Comprehension Assessment How-To

The passages I used had comprehension questions listed, so they were simple to use. If you need a list of reading comprehension questions to ask, there is a FREE LIST in the Reading Teacher Toolkit download that I listed above.

  1. After reading the passage, allow the student to read and answer the questions.
  2. If no questions are provided, use the free list in the download to ask appropriate questions.
  3. Analyze the answers. For example, were things remembered wrong, correct answers mixed up between characters, or were words read incorrectly, causing comprehension to be wrong? These are some of the things to check.

Decodable Passages for Reading Comprehension

If you’d like decodable passages for reading comprehension to add to your literacy assessment toolkit, I have several sets that teachers and students LOVE!

Each phonics skill has 3 passages and they follow the same phonics progression as as all the other science of reading resources I have. Each passage also has a comprehension check and a dictation sentence for you to have the student write.

What To Do Next

With completed assessments, you’ll be able to see which students especially need more support over the summer. Preventing the summer slide will be so important this year to set students up for success next year.

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The value these literacy assessment tools bring to you and to your students’ teachers next year is huge! They will get a snapshot of these students’ reading journey. They’ll be able to see where they’ve been, how far they’ve come, and where they may have gotten stuck. Then, teachers will know how to best support these children before the school year even begins. How valuable is that!

If you might be interested in learning more about reading small group instruction, join my FREE webinar that you can watch in your own time!

Happy Teaching,



Want to use the latest research to boost your readers during small groups? This FREE guide is packed with engaging ideas to help them grow!

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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