It seems like you were just watching the fireworks on the Fourth of July, but you’re suddenly back in the classroom staring at a new group of faces. These students are strangers now, but they trust you to help them improve their academic performance this school year. The easiest way to learn more about their reading comprehension knowledge and skills is to have them take a diagnostic test. This type of baseline assessment will give you insights into what the students know, what they need help with, and how you can meet their needs in the best ways possible.


What do students already know?

Students may have years of school experience, especially in middle and high school. It’s likely that they had many different teachers, have unique family situations, and may have even lived in other states or countries. You can use a reading comprehension diagnostic test to gauge their prior knowledge and determine their strengths and weaknesses. ReadTheory’s pre-test consists of eight passages and associated questions which will not overwhelm students while generating valuable information.

Always remind students that the score will not affect their overall grade and that it will only be used to measure mastery. Wording it in a positive way will help students to feel calm and confident in their own knowledge when taking the pre-test. With ReadTheory, students will not even see an on-screen score when they complete the pre-test! They will jump right into learning.


What goals can you set together?

You can use the results of the pre-test to enhance student learning and set realistic goals for students. It’s a good idea to have students analyze the data and set their own learning goals. For example, you may want to share the ReadTheory pre-test score, Lexile level, and standards met by conferencing with each student individually. 

When students set their own goals based on the pre-test, they understand what they need to learn next and why it is important. Without a pre-test, you could end up focusing on skills that students have already mastered or topics that the students aren’t ready for yet.


How can I use pre-test data to drive my instruction?

You are probably aware that strategies like differentiation, small-group instruction, and individual interventions can benefit students. But how can you plan for any of those without data? Think of the pre-test as your starting point–a way to discover strengths and weaknesses and to determine which students need additional support and which ones need enrichment. You can continue to use it throughout the year as a reference to measure student growth.


To start understanding your students’ baseline this year, create a free ReadTheory account, allow students to take the pre-test and start using those learnings to inform instruction. You got this!

Carolyn Vento, Marketing Engagement Manager
Written by Carolyn Vento, Marketing Engagement Manager

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