This is useful for the child's teacher in two ways. First, it gives the teacher an indication of whether material currently being read is too easy or too difficult for the child. Secondly, it serves as an indicator of the areas where a child's reading can improve--for example, if a child frequently makes word substitutions that begin with the same letter as the printed word, the teacher will know to focus on getting the child to look beyond the first letter of a word. Running records may be done frequently or only occasionally to assess a child's reading progress.
Exactly how a running record is constructed varies by the specific purpose for which it will be used and the program for which it is used. However, there are some similarities across methods. First, the child reads the selected book or passage aloud. The teacher or tutor has a copy of the words, typed out on a different piece of paper or uses a blank sheet of paper and consults the text later. As the child reads, the adult makes a checkmark or other mark for each correctly read word. However, if the child makes a mistake, the adult might circle the word, write down the type of error, or even write down what incorrect word was said. After the child is finished reading, the adult calculates the percentage of words read correctly and how often the child self-corrected an error. The adult may also conduct a miscue analysis. The analysis is always done in a Reading Recovery lesson to inform planning for the next lesson. This information can then be used as described above.