SECTION 2: Assessment and monitoring

SECTION 2: Assessment and monitoring

Assessment allows us to understand more about the progress of each individual student, which students may need additional support and in which areas, and the effectiveness of different teaching approaches and interventions. 

In this section

Assessment approaches

As assessment serves different purposes, a range of approaches to assessment is needed in early literacy. The starting point is understanding what you want to measure and why. Below is a table showing the knowledge and skills you will want to assess during a student’s first year at school and tools that can be used to measure these in more formal ways. Small group lessons provide a useful opportunity to informally monitor and assess students’ progress across the range of skills and knowledge that they are developing and to identify any gaps that they may have.

Knowledge or skill to check
Tools to use
Phonological awarenessa phonological screening tool (see for example the GKR phonemic awareness test available on Te Kete Ipurangi)
Alphabet knowledgeLetter name and sound (see for example the alphabet test on Te Kete Ipurangi)
Speed of naming (See for example DIBELS, which are a series of timed tests that are standardised and normed for grade level)
Decoding skillReading words according to phase (c-v-c -> cc-v-c -> c-vv-c, and so on)
See for example the Adapted Bryant test on Te Kete Ipurangi
Encoding skillSpelling check according to phase (see scope and sequence)
Word readingWord list of high frequency words
Burt (from 6 years old)
Text readingReading an unseen text appropriate to phase (see Scope and sequence)
Burt (from 6 years old)
Text writingAnalysing a piece of children’s writing using criteria

Videos to watch

Please note, when the video plays, you can use the controls at the bottom of the player to expand the video to full screen.

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Tracy Orr, a teacher at Hokowhitu School, discusses the range of formal and informal assessments they use during their students’ first two terms at school. 

Reporting to parents

Teacher Kate Smith explains Nayland Primary’s approach to assessment during the first year at school and how they engage with parents and whānau to update them and let them know how to support students at home.

Assessment of writing

Dr Helen Walls discusses the importance of informal assessment of students’ writing by looking at recent writing work the students have completed and identifying the next steps in the teaching and learning process.


Dr Christine Braid

Christine is currently leading the Literacy@Massey training programme, where she works with teachers across New Zealand to ensure they have the knowledge and skills to significantly improve children’s literacy outcomes. She has a background as a primary school teacher and literacy facilitator, and more recently as an educational researcher in the area of literacy. She was part of the Massey University Early Literacy Research Project and lead facilitator on the Ministry of Education contract for teacher training in TEPiL.

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