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Since I am a reading teacher, I assess independent reading levels using a Teachers College assessment. The kids read excerpts from novels, part aloud to me so I can assess reading rates, oral fluency, and miscues and part silently. I then ask for an oral summary and assess comprehension with two literal and two inferential questions. This allows me to assign an independent reading level. I use the Fountas and Pinnell guided reading levels. I did this once a marking period.
I also give a comprehension assessment (paper and pencil.) It involves reading ten passages independently and answer twelve questions, each question assessing a specific comprehension strategy (ie. main idea, facts and details, sequence, etc.) This allows me to form small groups for explicit comprehension instruction. This I do once at the beginning of the year and once at the end of the year.
It's a ton of work, but the data is very useful in parent conferences and for showing individual growth. DATA, DATA, DATA!