Running Records

Read This:  RR Final Document
Learn how to take and analyze a running record!
What is a running record?  A running record is a technique for capturing and recording oral reading behaviors (what a reader says and does), using a system for coding the reader’s responses.  It is an observation tool ~ not a test ~ to determine what reading processes a child is using to determine instructional needs and for placement purposes.   It also includes a comprehension check.   The term miscue is defined as an observed response that does not match what the person listening to the reading expects to hear.   Miscue Analysis involves both a quantitative and qualitative component.  Qualitative Analysis means looking at reading behavior for signs of strategy use.

 The Running Record Form

There are two parts: the running record and a comprehension check. When you perform a running record, use the symbols and marking conventions explained below to record a child’s reading. When the session is complete, calculate the accuracy rate, error rate, and self-correction rate, and enter them in the boxes at the bottom of the page.

Accuracy Rate  # of words in the passage – # of uncorrected miscues X 100 /# of words in the passage

For example:  218 words – 9 errors X 100 divided by 218  = 96%

Error Rate
Error rate is expressed as a ratio and is calculated by using the following formula:

Total words / Total errors = Error rate

For example:
99 / 8 = 12.38, or 12 rounded to nearest whole number
The ratio is expressed as 1:12.
This means that for each error made, the student read approximately 12 words correctly. 

Self-Correction Rate
Self-correction rate is expressed as a ratio and is calculated by using the following formula:

Number of errors + Number of self corrections / Number of self corrections = Self-correction rate

For example:
8 + 3 / 3 = Self-correction rate
11 / 3 = 3.666, or 4 rounded to the nearest whole number

The self-correction rate is expressed as 1:4. This means that the student corrects approximately 1 out of every 4 errors.  

Independent level95-100% words correctly identified.  No more than 1 in 20 words are difficult for the reader.  Reader also has 90% recall of information.  (14-15 pts on retelling chart below for fiction/11-12 pts on nonfiction)

Instructional level90% – 94% words correctly identified.  No more than 1 in 10 words are difficult for the reader.  Student needs teacher support.  Reader also has at least 75% recall of information.  (11-13 pts on retelling chart below for fiction/9-10 pts for nonfiction)

Frustration level89% and less words correctly identified.  MORE than 1 in 10 words are difficult.  STOP READING THE TEXT.


Reading Level 50 Words 100 Words
Independent 1-2 errors 5 errors maximum
Instructional 3-5 errors 6-10 errors
Frustration 6+ errors 11+ errors


  Types of Miscues AND What They Mean 

**Miscues are words read that are not exactly accurate, but are “cued” by the thought and language of the reader as he attempts to follow what the author is saying.**

Self-Correction:  **Not an error, only an error if s/c to a wrong word!**
During the oral reading, the child realizes he/she has made an error (or feels he has made an error) and re-reads the section/word without prompting.   Self-correction is good!  We want readers to do this if they really are correcting an error.  However, is the reader reading too fast?  Is the reader “correcting” correct words? If so, the reader is unsure of himself.

Repetition:  **Not an error**
A child repeats a word or portion of the text.  Lots of repetition may mean that the text level is too difficult. Sometimes readers repeat when they’re uncertain and will repeat the word(s) to make sense of the passage.

As the child is reading, he/she will insert a word or two that isn’t on the page.  Does the inserted word change the meaning? If not, it may just mean the reader is making sense but also inserts. The reader may also be reading too fast. If the insertion is something like adding a suffix such as in finished for finish, this should be addressed.

Omission:  During the oral reading, the child leaves out a word(s.)   When words are omitted, it may mean weaker visual tracking. Determine if the meaning of the passage is affected or not. If not, omissions can also be the result of not focusing or reading too fast. It may also mean the sight vocabulary is weaker.

Reversal:  A child will reverse the order of the print or the word. Watch for altered meaning. Many reversals happen with young readers with high frequency words.

Instead of reading a specific word, the child inserts a different word.  Sometimes a child will use a substitution because they don’t understand the word being read. Does the substitution make sense in the passage?  Is it a logical substitution?

Has To Be Told A Word:  Child can not move on on his/her own.   The teacher may prompt, depending on the circumstances, “What good reader strategy could you try here?” 

Pauses:  **Not an error**  Draw // to indicate pauses.  You might also want to get into timing the student.  If the student is taking an excessive amount of time reading the passage, he/she is sure to lose meaning.

Total Confusion:  The child gets totally confused on an entire line of text and cannot get back on track, say “try it again” and that is counted as one error.  Each error counts as a separate miscue on the second attempt.

Check out this FANTASTIC website about types of errors:

Words Per Minute By Month/Grade/Level

To calculate WPM:

___words read aloud divided by ___SECONDS it took to read X 60 = __WPM

For example, say there were 207 words in a book.  The child read it in 3 min. 25 seconds, which is 205 seconds.  207 divided by 205 is approximately 1.0 words per second x 60 = 60 WPM!

April/May Grade 1 Level I 40 wpm
June Grade 1 Level J 45 wpm
November Grade 2 Level K 55 wpm
March Grade 2 Level L 65 wpm
June Grade 2 Level M 70 wpm
November Grade 3 Level N 75 wpm
March Grade 3 Level O 80 wpm
June Grade 3 Level P 80 wpm
November Grade 4 Level Q 90 wpm
March Grade 4 Level R 105 wpm Fic./100 wpm nonfiction
June Grade 4 Level S 105 wpm Fic./100 wpm nonfiction
November Grade 5 Level T 105 wpm Fic./100 wpm nonfiction
March Grade 5 Level U 115 wpm Fic./110 wpm nonfiction
June Grade 5 Level V 115 wpm Fic./110 wpm nonfiction

 Analyzing Miscues ~

Marking M, S, and V on a Running Record

Now, to analyze your running record. . .  Miscue Analysis is the process of diagnosing a child’s oral reading based on analyzing the errors a child makes.  YOU ARE LOOKING FOR ERROR PATTERNS.  Miscue Analysis originated from research done by Dr. K. S. Goodman.  During the oral reading, a teacher can learn whether the child is making sense of what is being read by looking closely at the types of errors the child makes.  By analyzing miscues, a teacher will be capable of assisting those who experience difficulty.  Reading tests can’t give you this type of information.

Self-correction (SC)
Self-correction occurs when a child realizes his or her error and corrects it. When a child makes a self-correction, the previous substitution is not scored as an error, unless the child “self-corrects” for an incorrect word.

Meaning (M)
Meaning is part of the cueing system in which the child takes his or her cue to make sense of text by thinking about the story background, information from pictures, or the meaning of a sentence. These cues assist in the reading of a word or phrase. 

M = Meaning. Did the miscue retain the meaning intended by the author?  If “Yes” then circle M. The reader used the meaning or semantics cues.  If “No” then don’t circle the M

Structure (S)
Structure refers to the structure of language and is often referred to as syntax. Implicit knowledge of structure helps the reader know if what he or she reads sounds correct.

 S = Syntax – language structure. Did the miscue retain grammatical correctness?  Does the language pattern used sound right?  If “Yes” then circle S.   If “No” then don’t.  Consider the language pattern only, not whether it retains the intended meaning.

 Visual (V)
Visual information is related to the look of the letter in a word and the word itself. A reader uses visual information when he or she studies the beginning sound, word length, familiar word chunks, etc.

 V = Grapho-phonics – visual. Does the miscue show that the student has used visual cues?  If the miscue is at least 50% visually correct then circle V.

By working out % scores you will get an indication of which cues the student is relying on.  For example, the final scores may look like this:  Meaning = 85% Visual = 30% Syntax = 75%.  Your conclusion will be:  Student is using context and language structure well but needs work on visual skills.


That evening the boy went for a walk.  (The child read “night” instead of evening.)   Meaning and syntax have been retained, so circle M, S.  No visual correlation.

I’m wearing shorts and a bush shirt .  (The child read “brush” instead of bush.)  Circle V and S.  Visually more than 50%. Syntactically OK, but the meaning has changed.

Nobody tries out concoctions on themselves.  (The child read “congcontcong” instead of concoctions.)   Relying on visual cues. Nonsense word means meaning and syntax not being used, so circle only V.

Not only was it bright purple …………………  (The child inserted an “a” after it.)  Meaning and syntax retained, so circle M and S, but not V.  Visually it was not correct.

No blade of grass grew in all its concrete playground.  (The child read “concentrate” instead of concrete.)  Only visual cues used, so just circle V.  Meaning lost.  Syntactically it doesn’t work.

  • When a child makes an error in a line of text, record the source(s) of information used by the child in the second column from the right on the running record form. Write M, S, and V in to the right of the sentence in that column. Then circle M, S, and/or V, depending on the source(s) of information the child used.
  • If the child self-corrects an error in a line of text, use the far right-hand column to record this information. Write M, S, and V to the right of the sentence in that column. Circle the source(s) of information the child used for the self-correction.
  • You may choose to administer a running record assessment without recording your observations regarding the child’s use of meaning (M), structure (S), and visual (V) cues. Even without recording this information on the form, you can still use the information on error, self-correction, and accuracy rates to place the child at a given reading level.

Retelling Rubric from the Waltham Public Schools
Very Good Comprehension Adequate Comprehension Some Comprehension Very Little Comprehension
  Advanced 4 Proficient 3 Needs Improvement 2

Warning 1

Key Facts & Sequence Tells most events in sequence/tells most key facts Tells many events in sequence/tells many key facts  Tells some events mostly in sequence/tells some key facts Tells 1-2 events or key facts
Details & Setting Includes most important details Includes many important details Includes some important details Includes few or no  important details
Characters Refers to all characters/ topics by specific names (Snoopy the Beagle) Refers to many characters/ topics by specific names (Beagle) Refers to some characters/ topics by generic names or labels (dog) Refers to 1 or 2 characters/ topics using pronouns (he)
Vocabulary Includes key vocabulary from the text Includes most key vocabulary from the text Includes some key vocabulary from the text Includes few key vocabulary from the text 
Error Pattern Responds with interpretation that shows higher level thinking or connections Responds with interpretation that shows literal level thinking or connections Responds with some misinterpretation Responds with incorrect information
Independent Comprehension for Fiction:  14-15 points
Independent Comprehension for Nonfiction:  11-12 points (do not ask “Character” row)

Observations to Record ~ is the child actively relating one source of information to another? Marie Clay calls this “cross-checking” because the child is checking one clue against another. On the running record form note cues used, cues neglected, and cross-checking behavior.  Keep some of these questions in mind:  

  • Did the reader use cues in relation to each other?
  • Did the reader check information sources against one another?
  • Did the reader use several sources of cues in an integrated way or rely on only one kind of information?
  • Did the reader use frequent repetition?
  • Did the reader reread to search for more information?
  • Did the reader make meaningful attempts before appealing for help?
  • Did the reader notice when cues do not match?
  • Did the reader just stop at unknown words, or search to solve them?
  • Did the reader appeal for help in a dependent way or when appropriate ~ after many various attempts have been made?
  • Is the reader interested, and did the reader enjoy the reading?
  • Did the reader seek frequent affirmation?
  • Did the reader maintain appropriate concentration?
  • Could the reader identify the genre type?
  • Did the reader create text (child was not reading but making up a story to accompany pictures)?
  • Did the reader match speech to print?
  • Did the young reader use 1:1 finger correspondence?
  • Could the reader track print visually without finger?
  • Did the reader take initiative to solve unknown words:  skip it/read on/go back, use pictures, use semantic, syntactic, or visual clues, use background knowledge, look for chunks, use letter sounds?
  • Did the reader self-correct?
  • Were there insertions, omissions, or substitutions, and did they affect meaning (or not)?
  • Did the reader chunk reading into meaningful phrases?
  • Did the reader read smoothly/fluently?
  • Did the reader use expression and punctuation correctly?
  • Did the reader self-monitor to see if the reading was making sense?
  • Did the reader focus too much on accuracy rather than on meaning?
  • Did the reader comment and react to indicate comprehension and personal interpretations?
  • Was improvement on strategies used noted?
  • Did the reader read with confidence?
Answers to these questions provide a description of the child’s reading processing system. They will reveal if the child is using internal strategies which include:
  • Self-monitoring:  These strategies allow the reader to confirm whether he is reading the story accurately.  Readers who are reading accurately consistently use meaning, structure, and visual information to confirm their reading.  This is not a conscious process, but the internal system that tells them whether the reading looks right, sounds right, makes sense.
  • Searching:   Searching is an active process in which the reader looks for information that will assist problem solving in some way.  Readers search for and use all kinds of information sources, including meaning, visual information, and their knowledge of syntax of language.
  • Self-correcting:  This is the reader’s ability to notice mismatches, and to search further to find a precise fit.
Some rules about using running records and miscue analysis:
  • Tell the child the purpose of the activity ~ that you want to observe his/her reading and how he/she makes sense of the reading.  Tell him/her you are looking for good reader strategies and briefly review these.
  • Use unfamiliar text, not something the child knows from memory, approximately 100 words in length.  Talk about the title and author with the child.  Have the child do a picture walk to make some predictions.  If you are doing a running record on an older child with a chapter book, have him/her briefly summarize what he has already read first.
  • Remind the child he/she will retell what he has read immediately following.
  • When the child is finished reading orally, say thank you, and give a compliment.  Have the child retell, and record the retelling.  Then discuss what you saw, compliment good reader strategies observed, offer suggestions, and set goals.
  • Do not use miscue analysis on beginner readers.
  • Give the student some choice in the reading selection.
  • You will need a quiet place without interruptions.  It can be very handy to record the child to provide you with an opportunity to listen to the passage more than once.
  • Photocopy the selection the student will read, use this to record the miscues.
  • Record each miscue in full for an accurate picture.
  • The teacher’s role is a neutral observer.
  • If a child makes the same miscue on a proper noun every time it appears, for example, Mario for Maria, then it is counted only as 1 error.  If the child changes it (Mario, Mary, Matt) each is counted as an error.
  • There is no penalty for attempts that lead to a correct answer.
  • There is no penalty for broken words, such as a-way.
  • If a child skips a line of text, each word missed is an error, but if pages are stuck together those missed words do not count as errors.
  • Record body movements, comments, attitude, demeanor ~ see Observations to Record (above).
  • Collect running records over time to note patterns in reading.

In Summary
Miscue analysis is an important diagnostic tool that should be done every other week* to see how the reader is improving in the strategies used.  Since we read to comprehend, have questions on the text prepared or have the child retell the passage using the retelling rubric above.  Miscues may range from an unimportant change of a word that does not interfere with meaning, to a total breakdown in understanding demonstrated by the readers’ miscues bearing little relationship to the original text. Analyzing and making sense of the miscues can help teachers plan the next steps to improve a child’s reading. 

*Reading A-Z suggests this frequency: 

Early Emergent Readers Levels aa-C every 2 to 4 weeks
Emergent Readers Levels D-J every 4 to 6 weeks
Early Fluent Readers Levels K-P every 6 to 8 weeks
Fluent Readers Levels Q-Z every 8 to 10 weeks


Information Came From:

Fountas and Pinnell  1996


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