How to assess early reading (primary)

Find guidance on the use of formative and summative assessment of early reading, and see examples of reading assessment grids from other schools.

Last reviewed on 14 November 2023
School types: AllSchool phases: PrimaryRef: 11117
  1. Assess word reading, comprehension and spoken language 
  2. Assessment should be regular and focused 
  3. How to assess whole-class reading 
  4. See assessment grids from schools

Assess word reading, comprehension and spoken language 

Assess these skills using the National Curriculum statements. These are set out on the following pages of the English programmes of study for Key Stages (KS) 1 and KS2:

  • Spoken language (all year groups): page 7 
  • Word reading and comprehension (year 1): pages 10 and 11
  • Word reading and comprehension (year 2): pages 17 and 18 

Assessment should be regular and focused 

This is to make sure that:

  • Teaching matches pupils' capacity to learn
  • Any issues are quickly identified and overcome

Formative assessment 

This helps staff to adjust their teaching based on pupils’ misconceptions, for example by:

  • Reviewing a grapheme-phoneme correspondence (GPC) 
  • Repeating a step to support blending 
  • Directing their attention to any pupils who have lost focus 

Summative assessment

Decide the frequency of summative assessment based on your phonics programme. This could be termly or half-termly.

What they’re getting out of the assessment

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