Conducting a Miscue Analysis

When you think a student is struggling with reading, conducting a miscue analysis will help you determine the areas in which your student needs extra support. The term "miscue" describes an observed response that differs from the expected response when a child reads orally. It is used in place of "error" or "mistake" because those terms imply something negative. According to Ken Goodman, the teacher who developed the miscue analysis, those unexpected responses are "windows on the reading process" and not automatically negative.

How is a miscue analysis conducted?

You will sit down with a student in a quiet area to work one-on-one. Give the student a copy of unfamiliar text that is about one reading level above what he can read independently. Record the student reading the text out loud. If the student stops, you can encourage him to keep going, but do not help him decode the words. When he's finished reading, ask him to retell the story in his own words. Don't offer any custom writing help while he is retelling. Once he's finished, you can ask specific questions.

What are the different types of miscues?

There are six main types of miscues. Correction: the student realizes his own error and corrects it without any prompting. Insertion: the student inserts a word that doesn't exist in the text. Omission: the student omits a word. Repetition: the student repeats a word or section of the text. Reversal: the student reverses the order of the letters, such as saying saw for was. Substitutions: the student substitutes a different word for the word in the text. This article provides a more in-depth look at the different types of miscues. 

How is a miscue analysis recorded?

There are two steps to recording the miscue analysis. First, you need to mark the specific miscues on a copy of the text the student read. Listen to his reading on the tape recorder and make marks for each of his miscues. This page offers an example of how to record different types of miscues. Next, listen your student's retelling and take note of how many of the key elements of the story he understood. 

How do you use results of the miscue analysis?

After recording your student's miscues and listening to his retelling, evaluate the frequency of his miscues, what types of miscues he made, and how well he comprehended the story. If he made several decoding errors but was still able to fully comprehend the story, then you will know that his mistakes are not hindering his reading process. If his miscues are affecting his ability to comprehend the story, you will have a detailed example of the areas in which he needs the most help. This will help you adapt instruction to focus on his reading needs.
Not all miscues are negative. A student can a few words or substitute words of the same meaning and still comprehend the text he his reading. Conducting a miscue analysis will help you determine which miscues are hindering his reading process and which ones are note, enabling you to provide more effective instruction.

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