Running Records

Previous Posts relating to Running Records

What Is A Running Record?

Every day the Reading Recovery teacher takes a running record of the book that was runrec (1)introduced the previous day. This is to capture what the student understands about reading. Young children usually think aloud and it is possible to hear what they are trying, rejecting and changing. Marie Clay, the educator who began Reading Recovery, designed a way of recording what the student is doing as he or she reads aloud. A running record is not just the recording of right and wrong words. The teacher uses letters and symbols to record behaviors such as rereading, asking for help, substituting words, saying parts of the word, and self correcting.

Running Records are used to select “just right” books, (e.g.  Are there too many errors? Is there too much reading work needed? Does it sound too easy?), and the teaching of appropriate strategies for that child at that time, (e.g. What is the student not doing? Is he noticing an error does not look right? Does it make sense? Is she saying any part of the word?) The teacher records if the child is using meaning (M), the look of the word (V), and the surrounding words in the sentence(S) when an error or a self correction is made. Running records also allow the teacher to document progress over time.

Analysing Running Records

cu-running-recordTeachers are often asking us to check their understandings of running record analysis. No question is too silly to ask. Some points were recently raised and clarified:

You record your best ‘guesstimate’ of which cues the student used (NOT what you think that the student needs to know.)

If the student used Meaning (Did the error still make sense?) circle the M. (NB Do not circle M because you think she needs to learn to check the meaning.)
If the student used Structure (Is the error grammatically correct?) circle the S.
If the error looked at least partially correct circle the V.

You may circle 0, 1, 2 or 3 cues for the error.
If there was more than 1 attempt at a word, do the MSV for each response.
You do the MSV for each error AND self correction (NOT just the self correction.)

When thinking about the self correction ‘guesstimate’ what new information the student used to change the incorrect response. (This might be M, S or V or any combination of 1, 2 or 3 cues.)

You might decide he used extra M because he looked at the picture, or he seemed to identify that his 1st response did not make sense by looking puzzled and rereading.
You will know that the student used S because the error is now grammatically correct.
You might decide that the student was using  V because the error looked at least partially correct.
The error and the self correction can have varying combinations of MSV.

The dog was chasing the car. (The correct response was cat.)
I would score the error as S V. (The dog could have been chasing a car but the picture clearly showed it was chasing a cat.)
If the student self corrected car to cat l would score the self correction as MV. (Extra running dogmeaning was probably used and he may have also looked more carefully at the word ending.) This is why l use the word ‘guesstimate’ because you will never be completely sure of what the student was thinking.

Come and ask if you need further clarification or fresh eyes. Remember you are looking for patterns of responses.
This is when you write some notes about what the student will need to know next.

In earlier posts l have written about the role of Running Records to discover the student’s use of Meaning, Structure and Visual Information when word solving.

Running Records 2

MSV made easyI recently came across a blog post called Analyzing Running Records written by Michaela from Reading Royalty.

As well as explaining what we mean by Meaning, Syntax (Structure) and Visual Information, Michaela gives an example of a running record that she has taken as she has listened to a student read.

Click on the picture to go to the blog post.

It is interesting to read her explanations relating to the errors and the self corrections that her student made. She also makes some suggestions re what she would teach next.

We are always looking for patterns of responses, e.g. the student may be predominantly only using the look of the word or only using the meaning. By looking at the types of information that our students use when a mistake is made, and looking at what additional information is used to self correct the error, we can plan what each student needs to know for future lessons.

The site also has a diagram showing the relationship between the 3 Cueing Systems (MSV). Meaning is made up of prior knowledge (past experiences), vocabulary (recognising words and understanding them) and illustrations (pictures). Structure is made up of oral language, grammar and a knowledge of English (e.g. Can you say it that way when you talk?). Visual is usually made up of sound / symbol knowledge (e.g. ‘a’ can be the sound at the beginning of apple and the beginning of ape) and analogy (e.g. that looks a bit like cat).

RUNNING RECORDS  summary from handouts

The prime purpose of running records is to understand more about how children are using what they know to get to the messages of text, or in other words what reading processes they are using.

What does this child do well? What does this child need to know now in order to shift his progress? (Out of all the things he/she does not know, what will be the most efficient / powerful / transferable item/strategy to work on next?)

Since strategies are ‘in the head’ we cannot observe them. We can only observe the behaviors that indicate that the student is using a strategy.

An emergent reader indicates that strategy use is involved when he/she: anticipates, monitors, predicts, attempts an alternative, integrates / solves, repeats / rereads, confirms, cross-checks and /or self corrects. These behaviors can be summarized as monitoring, searching and correcting.

M  – Did the meaning of the messages of the text influence the error?

S – Did the structure (syntax) of the sentence up to the error influence the response? If the error occurs on the first word of the sentence it is marked as positive for structure if the new sentence could have started that way.

V – Did visual information from the print influence any part of the error- letter, cluster or word?

Circle MSV if the child’s error COULD have been influenced by it. (You will not know for sure.)

If the error occurs on the 1st word of the sentence it is marked as positive for structure if the new sentence could have started that way.

Some points to guide your analysis:

  • How is the child working on problems?
  • What extra information did the reader use to make a self correction?
  • Are there too many self corrections? (E.g. Previously known words, or a high frequency word that should have been known the 1st time.) Are there too few self corrections?
  • Is the child’s reading steadily becoming more fluent and well-phrased?
  • Does the child cope with tricky language structure?
  • Does the child engage in the story? (Or passive?)
  • Judge what the reader already knows.
  • What the reader attended to at difficulty. (MSV, searching picture and/or print, turning back to a previous page, articulating at least one part of the word etc.)
  • What the reader overlooked. (Favoring a cue over another.)
  • Is there a pattern of response? (E.g. repeated errors, only 1 or 2 ways of solving text)
  • Is the reader rereading?
  • Is the reader self monitoring?
  • Is the reader searching? (picture, print)
  • Is the reader waiting for a Told?
  • What cues were used or neglected?

LOOK FOR EVIDENCE to back your assumptions.

Teachers have to make judgements because a manual cannot cover every possible response a child may make. We are looking for patterns of behavior, not an isolated, peculiar response.

The teacher needs to be able to ‘hear’ the reading again (within her head) as she analyses the running record. The more information recorded, the more the reading will be recalled. It can be hard to recall details, especially if there is a gap of time and other students, before the analysis. How did the reading sound? Did it sound the same across the whole text? Did he slow down at difficulty and speed up again? Were there long pauses? During wait time did she seem to be ‘searching within her head’, or playing with a loose thread?

The running record must mimic the lines in the text. E.g. If there are 5 words across the line, there should be 5 ticks (or corresponding symbols). This makes it much easier for the teacher to go back to find the response to the text. (E.g. phrases that were reread, teaching points- ‘I like the way you ___ on page __’.)

Record all the trials of a word. (Do not just give a tick because he eventually got it right.) The important part of the record is recording HOW he worked on a problem.

There is a difference between solving a word and self correcting a word, e.g. horse / house is a self correction but h-ho..s / house is word solving and is not marked as either an error or a self correction. (Word solving often involves incomplete utterances rather than substituted words but it may include a part of a word. E.g Ja / Billy …word was Billy, student began to say Jack but did not get it all out before saying the correct response. This is solving, not self correcting because the whole substituted word was not said.) Teacher judgement will often need to be made. Just try to be consistent with your choices.

Use the fewest errors rule. I’m / I am is recorded as one error, not 2.

TTA (try that again) is only recorded as 1 error. (But do not help / prompt.) The second attempt is scored.

A (appeal) asks for help verbally or with a gesture.

Y (you have a go) Used after an appeal before a Told.

T (Told to move along the reading at difficulty)- wait no more than 3 seconds. Analyse what the student attempted before the Told, e.g. no attempt or some attempt. Check the words being told. Are they high frequency words?

If the child spells out a word (C-A-T) it is recorded with capital letters to distinguish it from ‘sounding out’ (c-c-c /c-a-t /c-at/ cat).

If there are multiple trials of a word that is eventually self corrected, the trials are not recorded as being errors.

All words added or deleted are one error each. This includes whole lines, e.g. if there were 6 words left out because of skipping a line this is recorded as 6 errors but they are not analysed (MSV). Missing a whole page is not counted as an amount of errors, but the number of words not read (due to skipping a page) must be deducted from the tally of running words when doing the calculations.

Omissions and insertions are taken into general consideration as far as analysing structure. It is not helpful to individually analyse them for meaning or visual.

ONLY PRONOUNS (beginning with a capital letter) are treated as one error no matter how many times it is misread. Other nouns are recorded as an error each time.

 Childish pronunciations / dialect, e.g. gonna (going to) are not counted as errors.

Generally self corrections are positive. Too many self corrections can indicate ineffective processing (monitoring / crosschecking) ‘on the run’.


running record pencilCoding And Scoring Errors At A Glance





IMG_20160428_124800Analyzing the Running Record. For Strategic Processing: What can we learn? Conference Powerpoint slides.





Introduction to Instructional Decision Making- taking and analysing running records. Clemson University Reading Recovery Training Center.

(Includes some examples.)


rr blog


Learning At The Primary Pond – An excellent literacy blog by Alison, a bilingual reading specialist and education writer.




There are many examples of Running Records on YouTube.

Running Record Analysis – YouTube ▶ 18:27 Aug 20, 2014 – Uploaded by EHE EdTech.



conductingConducting, Analyzing & Responding to Running Records by Abbie Vlcek on 2 August 2013

This Prezi (is) a presentation regarding how to conduct & analyze running recordings using MSV for miscue analysis. It will then discuss next steps for diagnosing and prescribing while providing descriptive feedback.


running-recordUsing Running Records To Inform Teaching

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