The Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) is a standardized reading test used to determine a student’s instructional level in reading. The DRA is administered individually to students by teachers and/or reading specialists. Students read a selection (or selections) and then retell what they have read
to the examiner. As the levels increase, so does the difficulty level for each selection.

When and to whom is the DRA administered?
The DRA is administered to all students in Gr. 1-3 during a testing window in September and again in May. It may be administered at other times during the school year, especially at mid-year, so that teachers can track student progress.

What does a student’s DRA level mean?
The DRA level indicated on a student’s report card shows the score attained during the September or May testing window. The levels can show a student’s current reading level according to a Developmental Reading Continuum, shown below, along with grade level benchmarks for the beginning and end of grades 1-3. A full description of the characteristics of Emergent, Early, Transitional, and Extending Readers is on the next page.

How do teachers use DRA results?
Teachers use DRA results, along with the results of other assessments, to determine whether students are reading on, above, or below grade level. By knowing student DRA levels, teachers can plan for a small group, guided reading instruction, including targeted interventions and supplemental support. Teachers select materials that match students’ instructional levels and provide appropriate instruction to challenge them.

  • Emergent Readers: Grade Level Benchmark: Mid- to End of Kindergarten
    Demonstrate left to right progression with one to three lines of text.
    Match spoken word to printed word (one-to-one correspondence).
    Differentiate words and letters.
    Know the sounds and names of most letters.
    Read patterned text using a picture and oral language clues.
    Read the familiar text with some support.
    Read the new text with support.
    Locate and use known words to self-monitor.
    Can sometimes retell story including elements such as characters or events.
    DRA Levels A-2.
  • Early Readers: Grade Level Benchmark: Beginning to Mid-Gr. 1
    Select new texts with support.
    Read familiar texts independently.
    Read new texts with some support.
    Gather some information about the story from the teacher’s introductions and the pictures.
    Begin to connect events when previewing pictures.
    Generally, read word by word with a few short phrases.
    Know the names and sounds of all letters.
    Recognize a growing number of high-frequency words.
    Pause at the difficulty and begin to problem solve.
    Detect and self-correct some miscues.
    Retell including some story organization, story events (can be out of sequence), and some details about characters and events.
    Link the story to personal experience.
    DRA Levels 3-10.
  • Transitional Readers: Grade Level Benchmark: Mid-Gr. 1 to End of Gr. 2
    Select appropriately leveled reading materials most of the time.
    Read familiar and some new texts independently.
    Read the longer text.
    Read silently more often.
    Self-initiate previewing new text and making predictions.
    Read somewhat smoothly with slight pauses at difficult parts of the text.
    Usually, read with expression and attention to punctuation.
    Use efficient strategies to problem solve unknown words.
    Self-correct miscues.
    Retell demonstrating an understanding of the text organization, including main ideas, details about characters, setting, and events,
    and a literal interpretation.
    Link the story to personal experience and other media or events.
    DRA Levels 12-24.
  • Extending Readers: Grade Level Benchmark: Beginning Gr. 3 to End of Gr. 4
    Select books for a variety of purposes.
    Read texts independently.
    Read the longer text over several sessions without losing track of story and meaning.
    Read silently with a good understanding.
    Read new genres with some support.
    Self-initiate previewing text making multiple predictions.
    Read smoothly, with effective expression and attention to punctuation.
    Use strategies automatically.
    Retell demonstrating a very good understanding of a text that is organized and sequential; includes main ideas, important details about
    characters, setting, and events, and vocabulary and specialized phrases from the text.
    Use background knowledge and experience to interpret the story.
    Link the story to other literature.
    DRA Levels 28-44.