Professional Development

June 13, 2020

How to Effectively Track Guided Reading Data

One commonly asked question I get is, “How do I know how to track guided reading progress in my students?” This is such a good question! Tracking guided reading data plays a key role in understanding these things about our readers:

  • how much progress students have made
  • when to move students up a level
  • when to place students in a strategy guided reading group

Effectively tracking guided reading data shows you the results your students are having in reading. Then, you can identify areas of weakness and help readers strengthen those areas. Gathering and understanding guided reading data will help you easily see where each student is in their reading journey.

Organized Guided Reading Data in a Binder

The first step to effectively tracking your guided reading data is to have a binder that’s organized in a way that works for you. You should have everything you need in one place to record anecdotal notes, running records, group information, book logs, and lesson plans.

If you have access to data sheets at your fingertips, it makes tracking the data much easier. If you don’t love your guided reading binder, you can find mine HERE. It has all of the guided reading data tracking pages you’ll need, pages for organization, and more!

Gather Guided Reading Data Throughout the Year

All year long, gather as much data as you can for each student. At the beginning of the year, you’ll do a reading assessment like the DRA. Record the students reading level, accuracy, and comprehension abilities. This information will give you a starting point.

When taking a running record, don't forget to write anacedotal notes. This will help make sure that your coaching and instruction during your guided reading groups is targeted.

Throughout the year, you can assess students in a few areas to help track their reading progress:

  • Progress monitor sight words: Track students’ progress with mastering sight words. Learning these words and reading them fluently will help them move forward in reading.
  • Monitor phonemic awareness skills: In kindergarten and first grade, keeping track of students’ phonemic awareness progress will help you identify areas of weakness in reading. Then, you can readily address them in guided reading.
  • Take running records: Learn how to take running records, and try to take one on each student at least every two weeks. This will give you a detailed snapshot of a student’s reading journey. Having a weekly comparison will clearly show you their progress, areas of strength, and areas that still need improvement
When taking a running record be sure that you mark everything! Using this time to assess your students' guided reading practices is crucial.

At the end of the year, you can do another reading assessment (like the DRA). If you are teaching via distance learning, you can still complete your end of the year assessment. Find out how in THIS blog post.

Analyze Your Running Records

Analyzing running records is the key to understanding your guided reading data. After taking a running record, spend time analyzing it. What cues did the student use while reading? Decide if the errors or self-corrections were due to meaning, structural, or visual.

  • Meaning: Does the student’s error show they were using meaning to read the word? For example, they said, “couch” instead of “sofa”.
  • Structural: Does the student’s error use correct grammar and sentence structure rules? For example, substituting “a” for “the” and the sentence still make sense.
  • Visual: Does the error look visually similar to the word on the page? For example, the read “pay” instead of “play”.

If a student was using more than one of these cues, you can choose as many as needed. Finally, record their reading accuracy and level.

These running records are the meat and potatoes of guided reading data. From record to record, and from level to level, you’ll be able to track students’ progress in an in-depth manner to help you move them forward. You can check out some top tips for running records in THIS post.

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If you struggle with understanding how to do running records, analyzing them, or knowing what to do with them next, Guided Reading Unpacked is perfect for you!

It’s an online professional development course (7 hour learning certificate included!) that teaches you everything you need to know about guided reading from setup to writing lessons to delivering lessons to assessments.

I coach you through successfully completing and analyzing running records with detailed video lessons and examples. You’ll learn:

  • What a running record is and when to do one
  • How to correctly do a running record
  • How to analyze running records
  • Technology tips for running records

This course could change your reading instruction forever. Don’t miss out! I only open the course a few times per year because of the hands-on coaching I do while you complete it.

Hop on the waitlist so you’ll be the first to know when registration is open. I’d love for you to join us!

Happy Teaching,



Want to use the latest research to boost your readers during small groups? Thisย FREEย 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 studentsย loveย and that areย easy to implementย for teachers.ย ย 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, youโ€™ll find the tools you need to move your K-2 students forward!


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2 Responses

  1. I absolutely love the thoroughness, yet simplicity of your post! I wish we had more articles like this to read in college or as a new teacher! Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

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