The Developmental Reading Assessment, or DRA, is a set of individually administered reading assessments for children in kindergarten through grade eight. According to Natalie Rathvon, Ph.D., the purpose of the DRA is to identify students' independent reading level, fluency and comprehension. Educators use these assessments to identify students' reading strengths and weaknesses and to monitor reading growth. The classroom teacher administers, scores and interprets the DRA.
Prepare for the DRA. You can administer the DRA on an annual basis, ideally at the start of the year, or on a semi-annual basis, in the fall and spring, so you will need to incorporate it into the teaching timetable. According to Pearson Learning, individual DRAs take an average of ten to 20 minutes to administer, so be sure to allocate adequate time for all the students in the class.
Administer the test. There are three aspects to the assessment – book selection, reading from the book and reading preferences. Depending on the age and ability of the students, teachers may pre-select reading material or allow students to choose their own book. Students may also be asked to retell the story in their own words or respond to specific comprehension questions. Finally, questions relating to reading preferences are also designed in accordance with age and ability. These will vary from basic questions about with whom they read, to questions about different authors.
Complete the observation guide of the DRA. While students are completing the assessment tasks, teachers are required to complete an observation guide. To do this, teachers make notes about the student's ability in previewing and predicting the text, oral reading ability and strategies used, comprehension and response and reading preferences.
Calculate the score. An accuracy score is determined by counting the number of omission, errors and self-corrections in the reading assessment. Teachers circle the accuracy rate in the official observation guide. The teacher then works out a comprehension score, based on the DRA comprehension rubric and an independent reading level based on the DRA criteria, which is included in the observation guide.
Interpret the results. Each child is assigned a reading level of A1 to 80. (Higher numbers indicate a higher reading ability.) Based on these levels, teachers can highlight students who are struggling with reading and may need more help, or performing at an exceptional level for their age and require more advanced material.
Monitor reading levels. Use the results of the DRA to monitor the reading progress of students over an annual or semi-annual basis. This allows teachers to gain a better idea of a student's strengths and weaknesses and note any improvements. Use the DRA at more regular intervals, such as every semester, to monitor short-term progress.