The initial sound subtask is a measure of a student’s ability to identify the first sound in a word. It also measures a student’s ability to separate words into sounds and to manipulate those sounds. Students are told a word verbally and asked to isolate and pronounce the first sound of the word (the initial sound). The EGRA administrator records the number of correct letter sounds identified.
The Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) uses subtasks to measure a student’s reading skills. The number of subtasks will differ depending on the context and language of the EGRA. Subtasks typically take around 2–4 minutes each to administer, and they are administered aloud, with the teacher speaking and the student reading and responding. The most common EGRA subtasks are described below. The subtasks begin with the simplest tasks that measure the most basic skills and builds up from there to the subtask that measures reading comprehension.
Click into a subtask to learn more about what it measures and how it is measured.
The letter names subtask tests students’ ability to recognize letters and accurately speak their corresponding name. The students are presented with a grid listing letters in a random order. Students are asked to read out loud as many as they can, as quickly and carefully as they can, in 1 minute. The EGRA administrator times the child, making note of any mistakes the child makes while calling out the letter names. The score is typically reported as correct letters per minute (clpm).
The letter sounds subtask tests students’ ability to recognize letters and speak their corresponding sounds. Students are presented with a sheet listing letters and asked to read out loud as many as they can, as quickly and carefully as they can, in 1 minute. (In some languages, graphemes, or sets of letters and/or symbols representing a single sound, are presented, e.g., in French, "é" is presented separately from "e.") The EGRA administrator times the child and records the number of correct letter sounds per minute (clspm).
The nonword subtask tests students’ skill in using letter-sound connections to figure out (“decode”) words. While many students learn to memorize a broad range of "sight" words, they need skills to decode less familiar words. In this subtask, students are given a list of made-up words that do not exist in the language tested and asked to read out loud as many as they can, as quickly and carefully as they can. The EGRA administrator times the student and records the number of correct words per minute (cnwpm).
The familiar word reading subtask is similar in format to the nonword reading subtask except that it presents the student with a grid containing words they are expected to be able to read at their grade level and have likely encountered before. The students are instructed to read aloud as many words as they can in 1 minute. The EGRA administrator times the student, making note of any mistakes the student makes while reading the words aloud. The score is reported as correct words per minute (cwpm).
The orientation to print subtask is a measure of concepts of print. It is considered one of the lowest order skills students develop as they begin to learn to read. The subtask is administered by asking students questions such as how to hold a book or where the text begins.
Listening comprehension is a measure of students’ oral language skills, which also contribute to reading. In this subtask, the EGRA administrator reads a passage to the student, who does not see it. The student then responds to questions or statements read by the EGRA administrator.
Vocabulary is words and their meanings; this subtask measures what words students know. Research suggests children need to understand at least 90% of the vocabulary in a passage for comprehension to occur. In this subtask, the EGRA administrator speaks words aloud and asks the student to “point” to what they mean (e.g., a body part, a simple object). The administrator records the number of vocabulary words the student got correct, with no time limit.
The oral reading fluency (ORF) subtask measures how quickly and accurately a student can read. It is a core component of EGRA because it brings together lower-level reading skills (such as decoding and familiar word recognition) with how quickly and easily the student can read a given word (called automaticity). Students are given a short, written passage on a topic that is familiar to them. They are asked to read it out loud “quickly but carefully” and are given 60 seconds from when they begin to read. The EGRA administrator times the student, making note of any mistakes the student makes while reading the words aloud. The score is reported as correct words per minute (cwpm).
Comprehension is the main goal of reading—understanding what is read. Comprehension is a complex task that requires some ability in all other reading skills. This subtask is paired with the ORF subtask. Depending on how much of the ORF passage the student was able to read, the EGRA administrator asks the student up to five questions about the story. The EGRA administrator keeps track of the number of questions answered correctly.