Saturday, September 22, 2012

Informal Reading Inventories (IRIs)

How do we find time to assess and instruct our students? If we must take 20-30 minutes just to do one informal assessment, how can we do this for 17 or more other students AND plan AND instruct AND do formal testing as well?? It seems impossible. Caldwell (2008) shared some examples of group IRIs, but I think that would be a last resort.

One disadvantage to being in a departmentalized math/science classroom, both as an intern now and I'm sure also as a teacher, is that it takes more time to learn if a student is struggling with the material because of a reading issue, one of the reasons Caldwell (2008) suggests for performing IRIs. Sure, teachers can talk with each other and share test scores, but there certainly isn't time for a math/science teacher to be performing his or her own IRIs. That means they have to wait for the other teacher to conduct IRIs, wait for the time to talk with that teacher, and remember to take good notes on the students about which they are concerned.

Thinking of the way I read to myself, I think I fall opposite Caldwell (2008) on the debate over counting errors that do not affect meaning. Sometimes I get into the flow and substitute words or read things that aren't actually there. Does that mean I'm reading it incorrectly or that I'm challenged by it? Maybe sometimes, but I think it just happens naturally. I'm not sure I should count that against my students. On the other hand, there is a difference between word accuracy scores and comprehension scores.

I think Walpole & McKenna (2006) touch on some of the ways to deal with this issue. With a slightly different approach you can target both what you're assessing and how you move forward. Also, as Flippo et al (2009) point out, with time and practice, I can hopefully choose the most appropriate IRIs for my class. I think (hope) it's just another thing I will figure out once I've started doing it.

I'm also on the fence about tracking miscues. I've done a miscue analysis with an ELL, and it was a lot of work to track everything. Using the traditional coding system gives you good information later, but it would be difficult to do much more than make checks if you track as the student is reading. If you can record the IRI as Caldwell (2008) suggests, the audio may be useful then to remind yourself what the student actually said.

I am definitely tucking the Flippo et al (2009) article away for later use. There are so many things to learn as a new teacher, and clearly from the tone of this article, even seasoned educators struggle with choosing the right IRIs for their needs. Having a guide to which questions I need to be asking will surely be an important tool.


Caldwell, J. S. (2008). Reading assessment: A primer for teachers and coaches (2nd Ed). New York City, NY: Guilford.

Flippo, R. F., Holland, D. D., McCarthy, M. T., & Swinning, E. A. (2009). Asking the right questions: How to select an informal reading inventory. The Reading Teacher, 63(1), 79-83.

Walpole, S., & McKenna, M. C. (2006). The role of informal reading inventories in assessing word recognition. The reading teacher, 59(6), 592-594.

1 comment:

  1. All of this -- even the coding -- gets much easier with practice. Once you've administered enough IRIs or running records, the coding will not seem like a difficult task.