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Reading assessment mistakes

6 Common reading assessment mistakes to avoid

Evaluating a struggling reader is commonly misdiagnosed by many parents and educators who jump to conclusions about the cause of reading problems. It is very important to assess a struggling reader properly in order for reading intervention to be successful. Here are 6 common reading assessment mistakes made that should be avoided.

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6 Reading assessment mistakes to avoid with struggling readers

Repeating ‘sound out the letters’

When evaluating a struggling reader’s decoding skills, telling him or her to sound out the letters or repeating the instruction a bit louder tops the list of common reading assessment mistakes. It is senseless if the person is clueless about your request.

This is no different to if you were asked to fly an aircraft with no knowledge of the control panel. Imagine that someone is instructing you repeatedly and loudly to “go up, go up, go up”, this would not help you.

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Not acknowledging phonological awareness

When assessing a struggling reader’s spelling skills, it is a bad idea to not give credit for spelling cat with a K, phone with an F or giant with a J. These examples show that the reader has phonological awareness and simply needs support to build on this knowledge.

Phonological and phonemic awareness are very crucial in the reading activity. On the list of reading assessment mistakes, this one is also very important.

Believing silence is rudeness

Assuming that silence means the reader is being rude is absurd because it is a common response to questions for which you do not know the answer. If you are using words like “phoneme”, “digraph”, “syllable”, and “consonant”, a struggling reader may be confused.

Try evaluating the student’s reading skills using simple language and fun activities. A proper reading assessment is important for reading intervention to be successful. Don’t make assessment mistakes that involve assuming things without hardcore evidence.

Punishing without proper diagnosis

Taking away toys and play time from the child so that he or she can perform better in reading makes no sense if the child has a learning disability. When the child has difficulty processing letters, sounds, and understanding meaning, it is necessary to seek medical assistance.

Talk to your doctor if you discover that your child has problems understanding concepts and performing tasks that young children usually grasp easily. Do a proper reading assessment before jumping to conclusions.

Not using age-appropriate content for a struggling reader

Using songs, worksheets and storybooks that cater to young children with colourful animations can make an older reader feel ashamed during an assessment. It is important to note that a struggling reader may already feel insecure and is probably suffering from a low self-esteem.

You have to take into consideration the person’s age and feelings toward the entire problematic situation. All activities and strategies that you use for finding the cause of the reading problem must make the student feel comfortable.

Losing your cool

Getting angry with a struggling reader during an assessment is one thing, but showing them your anger is a huge mistake. Avoid showing your frustration around a person who is already frustrated with the task that you are asking him or her to do.

Your negative reaction just helps to create a hostile environment for a struggling reader. For reading intervention to be successful, a welcoming learning environment must be created to motivate the student.


These are the 6 common reading assessment mistakes made by parents and teachers that should be avoided at all cost. When evaluating a struggling reader, it is important to approach the situation carefully and professionally. Use incentives for learning while doing a reading assessment and avoid making assessment mistakes.


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See also:

5 Reading assessment topics to give proper diagnosis

Is my child a struggling learner? 5 obvious signs

How to help my 7-year-old read better?

Reading intervention: 20 critical literacy problems to address

Reading lessons: Change someone’s life now

Autism signs parents should take seriously

Bad grades: Tips for students, parents, teachers

Delayed student in a traditional classroom

Lack of focus: A guide for parents

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