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FREE Diagnostic Reading and ELA Assessments

Welcome!

Teachers at all grade levels want to determine what students know and what they do not know.  Following are comprehensive reading and English-language arts assessments with corresponding recording matrices to provide the data teachers need to target instruction. Designed to be both comprehensive (no random samples) and teacher-friendly with audio files, self-correcting Google forms and sheets (or print versions), teachers have found the data to reliably inform their instructional decision-making. Visit the Pennington Publishing store to check out corresponding program resources.

ARE THESE ASSESSMENTS RESEARCH-BASED? These are teacher/reading specialist-created comprehensive diagnostics. None are normed. You won’t find them on What Works…As you probably know, comprehensive diagnostics need not meet research-based criteria for external validity since there is no sampling. However, each assessment is evidence-based and has internal validity/reliability. Read on!

HOW AND WHY WERE THESE ASSESSMENTS DEVELOPED? The phonics and spelling assessments were developed, field-tested, and implemented by a cadre of 23 reading specialists in the largest and most diverse school district in Northern California. As educators faced declining reading scores (below 50th percentiles on nationally normed tests), a radical shift took place to data-based science of reading instruction. Most teachers welcomed this shift, but the assessment burden was significant and threatened to undermine initial enthusiasm. In particular, the individual phonics, spelling, and fluency assessments used to drive instruction took hours of class time to administer on a quarterly basis.

To address this issue,  the reading specialists (in consultation with local university professors) developed teacher-friendly phonics, spelling, and fluency diagnostic assessments and field-tested them in hundreds of classrooms across the grade levels. The assessments were designed for whole-class, rather than individual, administration (except for the fluency assessment) to save valuable instructional time and reduce teacher workload. With this time-savings, the reading specialists were able to change the assessments from random-sample screeners to comprehensive diagnostics. Teachers and admin loved the specifics and the actionable data.

The data were analyzed and test items revised accordingly with significant teacher input from teachers and compared to data from normed assessments. Results were remarkably comparable. Teachers and reading specialists found the assessments to be internally valid (the test items accurately represent what they purport to assess) and reliable for placement.

Over the years, these original assessments have been revised and additional assessments were developed and field-tested by one of these reading specialists, Mark Pennington, to take advantage of new technology to further streamline administration, correction, and recording of the data teachers need to inform and differentiate reading and ELA instruction. Assessment components are now provided as audio files and in self-correcting Google forms and sheets.

WHY ARE THESE ASSESSMENTS FREE TO USE? As noted above, the assessments were developed and revised for and by teachers and their students. Mark Pennington has followed this precedent with his additional assessments and kept them free to use as he developed his own company, Pennington Publishing, over the years. As a publisher, Mark has reasoned that if teachers find the assessment data valuable, they may wish to purchase corresponding instructional resources which help teach to those data. Especially instructional components with quick formative assessments to monitor progress. Give one of them a try and see if the assessment data rings true and informs your instruction.

Phonemic Awareness Assessments

Use these five phonemic awareness to determine reading readiness. Each of the 5 assessments is administered whole class and includes audio files.

Syllable Awareness Assessment

Print and 5:48 Audio File

Syllable Rhyming Assessment

Print and 5:38 Audio File

Phonemic Isolation Assessment

Print and 5:54 Audio File

Phonemic Blending Assessment

Print and 5:53 Audio File

Phonemic Segmenting Assessment

Print and 5:21 Audio File

Alphabetic Awareness Assessments

Print and Alphabet Cards

Phonics Assessments

The phonics assessments feature nonsense words and test all common sound-spellings.

Vowel Sounds Phonics Assessment

Print, Google Forms, Google Sheets and 10:42 Audio File

Consonant Sounds Phonics Assessment

Print, Google Forms, Google Sheets and 12:07 Audio File

Fluency Assessment

The fluency assessment is designed in a tiered reading level format, beginning at the first grade level and proceeding to the seventh grade level. This assessment is individually administered and is timed for two minutes.

Pets Fluency Assessment

Print

Heart Words Assessments

This 108-word assessment tests student knowledge of high frequency words with an irregular sound-spelling (the part to learn by heart). As an option, teachers may require students to identify the irregular sound spellings by drawing hearts.

Heart Words Assessment

Print

Spelling Assessments

All common spelling patterns are included in this assessment. Administer part or all of the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment (American English Version) test items, according to grade-level criteria.

  • Grade 2: K-1 spelling patterns (#s 1‒41)
  • Grade 3: K-3 spelling patterns (#s 1‒55)
  • Grade 4: K-3 spelling patterns (#s 1‒64)
  • Grade 5: K-4 spelling patterns (#s 1‒82)
  • Grade 6: K-5 spelling patterns (#s 1‒100)
  • Grade 7: K-6 spelling patterns(#s 1‒102)

All common spelling patterns are included in this assessment. Administer part or all of the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment (Canadian English Version) test items, according to grade-level criteria

  • Grade 2: K-1 spelling patterns (#s 1‒41)
  • Grade 3: K-3 spelling patterns (#s 1‒55)
  • Grade 4: K-3 spelling patterns (#s 1‒64)
  • Grade 5: K-4 spelling patterns (#s 1‒82)
  • Grade 6: K-5 spelling patterns (#s 1‒100)
  • Grade 7: K-6 spelling patterns(#s 1‒102)
  • Grade 8: K-7 spelling patterns (#s 1‒106)

Diagnostic American English Spelling Assessment: “Normal speed” 22:38 and “Quick version 17:26 audio files; Google Forms and Sheets; Print Version, Recording Matrix for Progress Monitoring

Diagnostic Canadian English Spelling Assessment: “Normal speed” 18:53 and “Quick version 21:12 audio files; Google Forms and Sheets; Print Version, Recording Matrix for Progress Monitoring

Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics Assessments

Use this 45 grammar and usage item assessment to determine student’s knowledge of parts of speech, subjects and predicates, types of sentences, fragments and run-ons, pronoun usage, modifiers, verb tenses and verb forms.

Grammar and Usage Assessment

Print and Google Forms

Use this 32 item mechanics assessment to test students’ ability to apply correct usage of commas, capitalization, and all other essential punctuation.

Mechanics Assessment

As an option, the grammar, usage, and mechanics assessments are combined as a Google form.

Print and Google Forms

Diagnostic Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics Assessment (self-correcting Google forms)

Vocabulary Assessments

The Tier 2 academic language vocabulary has been derived from the research-based Academic Word List (AWL).  The Academic Word List (Coxhead) has been ordered into grade level lists by frequency of use. Each grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 Academic Language Assessment includes 56 Tier 2 words. The Tier 2 words are the academic language words that are most-often generalizable across the academic domains. For example, the word analyze is used in English-language arts, social science, history, science, math, and the arts.

Grade 4 Academic Language Assessment

Grade 5 Academic Language Assessment

Grade 6 Academic Language Assessment

Grade 7 Academic Language Assessment

Grade 8 Academic Language Assessment

Diagnostic Assessment Matrices

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