DRA Basics: Benchmarking and Diagnostic (now what?)

Posted by Teresa Marchant on Aug 20, 2016 9:37:32 AM

test_frustration.jpgDo your plans for the first few weeks of school include formative assessments? If so, you are not alone. The first assessment of the school year (for most districts) is your baseline. Using programs such as DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment), allows you to get a snapshot of your students’ independent and instructional reading levels. Finding their level, early in the school year, allows you to monitor their growth throughout the year. This post will provide information on how to use their test results to increase student achievement as well as helpful tips to get started if you have never used this assessment before.

Before- Don’t worry, if your results are lower than their end of year results. Summer slide is a real thing.  With traditional school schedules, many students miss the daily routine of school including independent reading.  Gather all your supplies (pencils, timer, and the selected reading materials). This diagnostic tool is a purchased program and includes the selected materials. Before you begin testing or giving instructions to individual students, make them feel comfortable to ease their nerves.  Small talk is a great icebreaker! Find out what kinds of books they like to read.

During- This is the most challenging part for me. Just remember you are just listening and noting mistakes or their self- corrections. It is not instructional time. Even though you know your student is capable of more, sometimes they get nervous.  You may need to pick passages above and below what their previous reading level to really pin point their level.

After- Student results will vary between A1-80.  Now, that you have a better idea of their reading level, together you can select materials to support independent reading. Programs like Big Universe, allow students to filter by reading level.  The premise behind using DRA as an assessment tool is allow you to monitor their progress. Which brings us to the next part of DRA, progress monitoring.

Progress Monitoring-depending on their initial reading level, this can be conducted weekly. Stronger readers with a higher DRA level typically won't need weekly PM. Usually quarterly assessments will provide valid results.

Related Resources for DRA-Big Universe makes it easy to search for specific DRA levels.


It's quick and easy to find resources for your students. 

From word families to complex reading materials, students will find engaging resources.

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For higher readers, I like using this supplemental resource as it follows the DRA pattern.


Practical Reading 1

Saddleback Educational Publishing (author)
From the publisher, "The reproducible lessons in this series were designed for students who still have trouble understanding what they read. All lessons (16 in each reproducible) feature a two-page reading selection followed by four pages of correlated exercises. The emphasis is on variety for maximum interest and involvement--covers traditional reading comprehension skills, language arts skills (e.g. vocabulary, syllabication, variant word forms, etc.) and critical thinking skills."
We love to hear from our readers, what is your best tip to offer new teachers using DRA for the first time?

Topics: Classroom Ideas, Differentiation, Special Education, Publisher Preview, Reading Lists

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