Just Imagine

Reading in KS2 – teacher assessment

Year 3 Group Reading Assessment Year 4 Group Reading Assessment Year 5 Group Reading Assessment Year 6 Group Reading Assessment

One of the questions that arises most frequently when we are working in classrooms with teachers is, ‘how do we assess the children’s reading in reading lessons but remain present in the lesson?’

There are many ways to assess pupils’ progress in reading from informal observation to standardised assessments. While test data provides one way of tracking pupil progress, teachers learn as much about children’s progress, if not more, from observations and conversations during group reading sessions.  Assessment informs teaching in the moment. We use a range of tools to make children’s learning visible without having to record during the session, thus enabling the teacher to listen attentively, to participate in discussion, to structure dialogue and therefore make better judgements about how to navigate through the lesson in order to bring about deeper learning.

A termly snapshot

However, it is also useful to periodically take a snapshot of children’s reading. To this end, we have devised a bank of materials to support teachers in making assessments against the ‘expected standard’, identifying gaps and planning next steps to develop children’s reading.


Resources are available for each year group in Key Stage 2. These comprise a set of high quality texts for each term accompanied by assessment prompts and activities which have been tried and tested in classrooms around the country. The text selection includes fiction, nonfiction and poetry in each year group. Each book in the selection affords rich opportunities for discussion. The book selection was carried out by a team of consultants to ensure they were an appropriate match for assessing the reading abilities of pupils in each year group.

Intended use

The assessments are pitched at pupils working around the expected level at a specific point in the year.  If they are working below age related expectations in reading and are unable to access the text independently, you can read the text to them and  assess their aural comprehension. The assessments can also be used with pupils working at greater depth. During the session, you can note evidence of  deeper level of thinking, an ability to make connections between other texts and answers which readily refer to evidence within the text.

The assessments are formative and each prompt is accompanied by a possible response to illustrate the types of answers which may be appropriate. These are intended as a guide, and for most questions there will be other possibilities which are just as sound. The assessments are not intended to be marked – the notes that you make will inform your future teaching. Over time they will allow you to build a broad picture of the children’s reading.  In addition, there is a summary sheet with typical behaviours of a reader in each year group. This is intended to be used throughout the year and will provide a useful overview.


We recommend carrying out the assessments as close to the beginning of the term as possible in order to inform the term’s teaching. The format of the assessment materials gives you the opportunity to identify key areas to work on and you can adapt the approaches to use with other texts.  You may identify some aspects of reading to concentrate on for the assessment. If pupils are already secure with specific skills, you may prefer to devote more time to digging deeper in the areas where they need greater support.

Why groups?

Most teachers use different methods of organisation to teach reading. In Guiding Readers, layers of meaning,  a mix of whole class and small group teaching as best suits your purpose and your pupils needs is advocated. For some children it will be necessarily to also to have one to one sessions. To make good teacher assessments of reading, we recommend small groups. You will need to be able to make judgements about individual children and this is very difficult to do in depth if trying to assess in the context of whole class teaching.

You may have concerns about carrying out assessments with a group of children but it is important to assess children when they are feeling comfortable.  It is fundamental to our approach that the sessions run in the same way as a regular reading session and that the children feel able to discuss the questions with their peers.  Conducting the assessment in groups makes it possible to make judgements about children’s abilities to  build on the answers of others to construct a deeper level of understanding. There are opportunities for paired discussion which are indicated where appropriate. With quieter members of the class you may wish to carry out some individual or paired assessments, using the same resources.

Assessment through teaching

You will notice that  there is enough material for more than one session. There are options. As mentioned above, you can choose to focus on areas of greatest need but you might also choose to use the materials over several sessions. Once you have finished the assessments, the books can continue to be used in the classroom.  We have included poetry collections and short story anthologies which means there are plenty of additional opportunities for you to use these books in subsequent sessions.

We stress that this format is for periodic use only. In most reading sessions you will not want to be distracted by note taking. It is more important to listen carefully to the discussion so that you can make timely interventions to support, extend and challenge children’s thinking.