TPRI is part of the Children's Learning Institute at UTHealth


Story Reading

Why do students read two stories now instead of just one as they did with the TPRI in the past?

There are a number of reasons the TPRI now includes two stories instead of one. The three primary reasons are as follows.

  1. The 2010 TPRI design seeks to provide more information and more useful information for students who score D on the screening. The addition of the decodable word list and the second story are a way to meet this goal. The addition of the second story gives teachers a chance to see how students perform with stories of different difficulty and on different topics. The second story also allows for the inclusion of more refined comprehension question types while still having multiple questions for each type of question. The new comprehension question types are designed to provide more direct insight into students' comprehension strengths and weaknesses.
  2. The new design of the Reading Accuracy, Fluency and Comprehension portion allows all students to read the same stories at each time point. In earlier versions of the TPRI, teachers often reported that when students read different stories it made it harder to compare their results. The new 2 story format allows students to read the same stories, and also allows for differentiation between students who are able to read the harder of the two stories, students who can read only the easier story, and students who can read neither story. Additionally, comprehension information on two different stories is collected which makes the comprehension information stronger.
  3. The addition of a second story may actually reduce testing time and frustration, particularly at first grade. First grade is by far the assessment that takes longest to administer compared to the other grade levels. In the past, many schools have chosen to give the PA and GK portions of the inventory to students who scored D on the screening. The reason schools made this choice was often that they felt they didn't get enough usable information about these students without administering these portions, and they couldn't be confident enough about their strong performance based just on the screening score and reading one story. Giving the PA and GK portions to all students is very time consuming. With the addition of the decodable word list (and error analysis) and the second story, teachers get much more information about students who score D on the screening. If schools now only give the PA and GK portions to students who score SD on the screening (and perhaps students who score D on the screening but do very poorly with the word list and story reading), then testing time should be either reduced, or about the same, with just as much relevant information gathered.

In grades 1-3, do students always attempt to read both stories?

Yes. All students attempt to read both stories. Students attempt to read the second story even if they score at the frustration accuracy level and then listen to the first story. With both stories, if students are frustrated on the story, it is read to them and the questions are asked as listening comprehension questions. The reason that students attempt to read both stories is that in the development study conducted with the stories, there were students who were able to read the second story but were not able to read the first. This was true even though for the study sample as a whole, the second story was more difficult than the first story. So, students have a chance to read both stories to ensure their story reading is measured correctly.

Why aren’t there grade equivalents for the TPRI stories?

The TPRI is not a norm-referenced instrument, so the stories don't have grade equivalents or percentile ranks. At the early grades, grade equivalent scores are highly unreliable. Instead, the TPRI is criterion referenced. With respect to the stories, this means that the phonic elements and story grammar elements increase in difficulty from the first story to the second story, as validated in a research study in Texas schools with over 3,000 students.

What is the difference in difficulty between the stories at each administration? When story difficulty changes, how can I tell if my students are improving?

On the TPRI, students in grades 1-3 typically read two stories each time the TPRI is administered (at BOY, MOY and EOY).  The difficulty of the stories ranges from less challenging to more challenging. Stories with distinctly different difficulty levels are provided to give teachers more insight about their students’ ability to read and understand harder and easier stories, and stories on different topics. However, when students receive multiple fluency scores, and read stories of varying difficulty, it is sometimes hard to tell if students are improving from one time point to the next. 

TPRI provides tools to help teachers measure and understand fluency scores more effectively. These tools come in the form of Fluency Equating Tables which equate fluency performance on any story with the hardest End-of-Year story (Story 6).  With equated fluency scores teachers can reflect on student fluency without concern for how many TPRI stories were read, which story was read, or how difficult the stories were. 

To find out more about Fluency Equating Tables, click here.

Are TPRI stories matched with guided reading levels or other leveling systems?

No. TPRI stories are not matched with guided reading levels or other leveling systems.  The leveling of the TPRI stories is a topic that has been given careful consideration.  Instead of trying to compare TPRI stories to other texts, TPRI stories are compared to each other.  The relative difficulty of the stories is determined through field studies in which each story is read by hundreds of students.  There are three difficulty levels of stories included in the TPRI: Easier, Harder and Hardest. At BOY and MOY there is an Easier story followed by a Harder story. At EOY there is a Harder story followed by a Hardest story.

TPRI stories are intended to help teachers more clearly distinguish between the instructional needs and abilities of the range of readers in their classes.  TPRI stories allow teachers to assess their students' ability to read increasingly difficult text accurately, fluently, and with understanding.  If teachers identify gaps in students’ accuracy, fluency and/or comprehension, they can provide instruction in each of these areas to better support students.

When students are reading a story, when should the teacher provide a word to the student?

While reading a story, if the student makes a mistake and keeps reading, the teacher marks the error (by writing a slash through the word on the Student Record Sheet) but stays silent. Do not provide the word or intervene in any way (for example, do not redirect by pointing at the word). If the student comes to a word and pauses (stays silent) for three seconds, or attempts to sound out a word for three seconds without producing it, this is considered a "three second hesitation." With three second hesitations, provide the word, then mark the word as an error on the score sheet.

What is counted as an error on the stories?

Story reading errors are as follows:

  • Mispronunciations – The student pronounces the word incorrectly. This includes leaving off –s, –ed and –ing endings.
  • Substitutions – The student replaces the correct word with a different word.
  • Omissions – The student skips a word.
  • Reversals – The student reads adjacent words in the wrong order.
  • Hesitations – The student pauses for longer than 3 seconds or takes longer than 3 seconds to sound out a word. In these cases, provide the word and count it as an error.

Items not considered errors include:

  • Insertions – The student adds a whole word that does not appear in the text.
  • Self-corrections – The student makes an error, but then corrects the error.
  • Repetitions – The student reads the same word or phrase multiple times.
  • Loss of place – The student skips a line or loses their place. Redirect the student to the correct place in the story and allow the stopwatch to continue to run.

If a student misses the same word over and over when reading a story, do I count it as one error or count the number of times the word was misread?

If the student reads the same word incorrectly multiple times throughout a story, count the word as an error each time it is read incorrectly. Also remember that all words, including names, are scored in the same way.

When a student reaches the Frustration Level on a story, does the teacher start reading from the point of frustration or from the beginning of the story?

The teacher should always start reading the story from the beginning of the story, not from where the student reached the Frustration Level.

How do you get a fluency rate for a child who scores at the Frustration Level on both stories?

A student who scores FRU on both stories will not have a fluency score on the TPRI. The TPRI guideline is that if a student scores FRU on a story then teachers do not calculate the fluency rate. From an instructional perspective, the fluency score for a student who is frustrated on a story is not particularly useful because it is not an indicator of the rate at which the student reads when reading a story at her/his level. In most cases, when texts are too hard for students, their fluency will be lower, and often significantly lower. So, a fluency score on a story that was too hard for the student doesn't really help to plan instruction because there is not much a teacher can conclude based on the score.

How should a teacher determine the average fluency rate when a student reads one story but the other story is administered as Listening Comprehension?

If the student is able to read one story, but scores FRU on the other story, then the teacher only calculates a fluency rate for the story read. Since the teacher has just one fluency score, it won’t be necessary to determine an average fluency score.  For planning and reporting purposes, when an average score is requested, teachers should use the fluency score from the one story the student was able to read without reaching the Frustration Level.  Teachers may wish to note students who read only one story, and keep this information in mind when creating groups for instruction.

Can a teacher administer Story 1 and then administer Story 2 at a later time?

TPRI recommends that both stories be administered during a single sitting as long as the student is not too tired or frustrated, and if time allows. This minimizes the number of transitions and interruptions to instruction, and tends to reduce overall assessment time. However, it is permissible for story 2 to be administered at a later time if necessary. Remember, it is important for students to always complete all items on a task without stopping the task. Also, the comprehension questions must be asked immediately after a student finishes reading or listening to a story.

By the end of the year, which story are students expected to be able to read and at what fluency rate?

Since TPRI is not an outcome assessment, but a tool to drive instruction, there is not an overall pass/fail guideline for the end of the year. The goal for TPRI, though, is for students to be able to read Story 6 at the EOY target fluency rate (60 wcpm for grade 1, 90 for grade 2 and 120 for grade 3). If students were able to read story 5 at about the target fluency rate, and were able to read story 6 at a slower rate, depending on other scores and information about the student, there would not necessarily be cause for concern.

How long do I wait for a student to answer a comprehension question?

After 10 seconds, if necessary you may prompt the student to look at the story. Wait no more than about 20 seconds total for a student to answer a question. After 20 seconds, move on to the next question.

How do students score Developed for comprehension?

Since comprehension is not a mastery type of skill, there won't be an overall Developed score. On an individual story students can score either D or SD, but there is not an overall D or SD for comprehension. Even expert adult readers sometimes encounter a text that they are unable to read with good comprehension. The TPRI can show if students seem to understand a particular story, and it can provide insight to their strengths and weaknesses in comprehension, but it cannot tell whether they have mastered comprehension of any reading at their level. To consider students' comprehension scores in relation to each other (when grouping students, for example), there are two common and efficient approaches. One is to look at whether students scored D on both stories, 1 story or 0 stories. A second approach is to look at the total number of comprehension questions that students answered correctly for both stories.


Have a question? Our FAQs are user-driven!

If you have questions about TPRI™, please contact us at

YoutubeVisit CLI YouTube channel. TPRI is part of the Children's Learning Institute. TwitterFollow us on Twitter to receive updates on news, additional resources and training schedules. FacebookLike us on Facebook and share your thoughts with others about TPRI.