About Education: Essay #2, “Cloze Test,” for textbook assessment

In blogging on a local journalist’s blog last week, a parent indicated that many children are behind grade level in her child’s middle school.  Because I was trained as a reading specialist, I offered to share my knowledge, via this blog, toward helping that particular mother, and any other interested person, learn how to help children better succeed in school through raising reading ability.

In my last post about education, entitled, “Mastery Learning,” I had explained the differences in Independent, Instructional, and Frustration levels of functioning in the classroom. As a parent, you need to be able to assess if your child can read his or her textbooks successfully. In the high school in which I had taught for 16 years, we found that, invariably, one-half of the 9th grade students were reading on 6th grade level or below. However, some students were reading on college level in 9th grade. There is a simple test whereby you can assess if your child is reading his textbook on Independent, Instructional, or Frustration Level. It is called the Cloze test. After you diagnose accurately, the next step is to teach your child some reading techniques that will enhance his success in school. The best reading technique that I can share with you in helping your child better read and comprehend textbooks is called SQ3R. This is a read-study method for comprehending textbooks well. Any student will benefit from applying this formula, whether that student is below, on, or above level. However, practicing the read-study method of SQ3R is especially needed by students who are reading their textbooks on a frustration level. Also, practicing SQ3R when reading textbooks helps students better retain what they read. That should help their grades improve, also. SQ3R will be presented in the next post, Essay #3. Let’s begin, now, with understanding how to administer and score the CLOZE test, effectively.


The CLOZE Test is a procedure for measuring the readability of textbooks.

If your child is in 8th grade, he should have a textbook for all curriculum areas written close to 8th grade level. If your child is reading on 5th grade reading comprehension level in 8th grade, he may have trouble reading the standard 8th grade textbooks. To determine if your child is reading on Independent, Instructional, or Frustration Level, begin by choosing either his science or social studies textbook to use in developing your own CLOZE test. Then, follow the directions below:

(1) Select a passage of 250 words from the textbook.

(2) Type the passage with the 1st sentence intact, but with every 5th word deleted from all subsequent sentences until you have a total of 50 blanks.  NOTE: To be absolutely valid, the passage should be typed so that all lines for the blank spaces are the same length (minimizing guessing possibilities).  Tell your child before he begins to fill in the blanks, that all of the blanks will be the same length although words missing in the blanks will be varied in length.

(3) Administer the test by instructing your child to attempt to fill in the blanks with the missing words.

(4) Score the test by counting as correct every EXACT word your child has supplied. Do NOT count synonyms or any word that approximates the missing word. To be counted as correct, the EXACT word missing must be filled in the blank by your child. (The formula has been adjusted with low percentages to account for wrong answers which, although close in meaning, were not the exact words missing.)


The percentage score for correct answers equals the number of correct answers times 2. Example: If your child correctly identified 25 of the missing words, out of the 50 blanks for words missing, his score would be 50%. If he had identified 20 of the 50 blanks, his score would be 40%.


100% – 58%  equates to Independent Level: Student could effectively learn with the textbook, with minimal teacher instruction.

57% – 44%  equates to Instructional Level: Reasonable difficulty level, so that the textbook is adequate for learning, with teacher instruction.

43% – 0% equates to Frustration Level: Even with instruction, the textbook will probably be too difficult for learning.

NOTE: If your child is having varied difficulty in different curriculum areas, you may want to administer the CLOZE test with more textbooks, than simply his science or social studies textbooks.

Here is a partial CLOZE test so that you can better visualize what you should be typing:

“A rabbit and a raspberry bush: one is an animal; the other, a plant. One moves around; the —————  is rooted in a ————— place. All of us ————— tell an animal from ————— plant, a rabbit from ————— raspberry bush!”


“A rabbit and a raspberry bush: one is an animal; the other, a plant. One moves around; the other is rooted in a particular place. All of us can tell an animal from a plant, a rabbit from a raspberry bush!”

This entry was posted in CLOZE Test, textbook assessment, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to About Education: Essay #2, “Cloze Test,” for textbook assessment

  1. Teacher and Mom says:

    Mary Elizabeth:
    Are you familiar with the DRP assessment (degrees of reading power)? If so, what are your feelings about using this tool as a primary assessment to place students in high school English courses?

    The CLOZE technique is one I used in middle school but unfortunately stopped using in my high school classes. I think it is time to “dust off” the technique and use it to assess my Biology students’ reading abilities. I’ve been relying on their 8th grade CRCT Lexile scores for differentiation. I will offer a CLOZE test to make sure I have everyone in the proper instructional groups. It will be interesting to compare the CLOZE results with the Lexile scores.

    • Teacher and Mom,

      Thank you for sharing the information about the DRP (Degrees of Reading Power) assessment process with others on this blog. For more information regarding DRP, I suggest that readers go to this link:

      I have never used DRP assessment tests for placing students in high school English courses so I prefer not to give an opinion to your question. However, I will say that, according to the link I provided above, the DRP assessment tests appear to offer a creditable approach to placement.

      What I had used to ascertain if certain students had been correctly placed were (1) reading comprehension percentile scores on national standardized tests found in the student’s permanent folder, of several years standing, focusing especially on the most recent comprehension test results (2) IQ test results on national standardized tests, of several years standing, and (3) reading test results on the Nelson Reading Test which we had administered in-house to every student. Gathering all three elements of data together for a given student, we analyzed the best functioning level for that student in classes requiring grade level reading. The DRP may be a more sophisticated instrument for ascertaining placement than we had used. I would recommend that if the DRP is used that it only be used by those well trained in how to administer it and how to assess its results, with validity. By the way, the data that I had taken much time to gather from permanent records (which I often shared with parents) is now provided by easy computer assess, I believe. I hope that teachers and parents will use this readily available assessment information to correctly place and teach their students/children.
      I am pleased to learn that you will be using the Cloze test with your high school biology students, in addition to using the CRCT Lexile scores, to pinpoint your instruction depending upon your students’ varying reading levels. If you have time, do let me know how well the Cloze test for each student compares with his or her CRCT Lexile score in assessing his or her correct instructional reading level. I believe others would be interested in knowing this information, also. You are an excellent teacher, Teacher and Mom. You are an inspiration!

  2. Ron Fuss says:

    CRCT lexile scores give you a starting point, but they are hardly 100% reliable. I’ve used Cloze and also this site to get more information on a given child: http://www.easystream.net/lessonquest/reading/inventory/inventory1.html
    It’s a free test which, while not guaranteed accurate, will give you a good point of reference. When I have a child I truly believe could be several grades levels behind in reading, I try to use several diagnostic tools to try to pinpoint a grade level to begin working from. It’s also good to understand how a child decodes words, which can significantly impact his learning of vocabulary in high school with all the technical vocabulary they have to learn. I use the San Diego Quick Assessment, which has graded word lists. This has been surprisingly accurate and has given me worlds of insight into how a child reads. I have found that often the comprehension level can improve much faster once I know their word skills and help them strengthen those skills. Type the title into a search engine and you can find this assessment posted in many places.

  3. Teacher and Mom says:

    Ron: Thanks for the information. Any ideas where one can pick up more training on reading instruction? My system has strong reading test scores, but we continue to get high school students who struggle with reading. Most middle and high school teachers, like myself, do not have a strong background in reading instruction. I had two reading classes as an undergraduate…The Teaching of Reading and Reading Content.

    Any suggestions?

    • Ron Fuss says:

      I took my master’s classes online through Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ. They have one of the better reading programs that is purely a degree in reading. There are a number of schools now offering continuing ed. credits for professional development. I know the Univ. System of GA offers reading endorsement courses, which might be what you need (it’s three courses). I think Holt-Rinehart and Pearson Ed. also have online reading courses. I found the GCU program by just digging around on the web. I enjoyed the online classes because I could fit them into my schedule as a single parent. And I had plenty of students to choose from when I needed one for research. I’m in a small system, so we realized several years ago that about 10% of our kids, no matter what we did K-5, were going to get to high school reading significantly below grade level. It’s a reality most school systems will have to face sooner or later. Let me know what you find- there’s quite a bit out there.

  4. Ron and Teacher and Mom,
    I am so pleased that you both are communicating on my blog. I hope you will continue to check in, here and there. I will probably return to more of my “reflections” type of posts, instead of my educational posts, in the near future, but please feel comfortable continuing your educational dialogue, with one another and others, either on my educational posts or on my most recent posts, even if they are not about education. In the next two weeks, I hope to enter a post entitled, “Robert’s Story” (similar to “Cyndie’s Story”), which you both might enjoy reading. Robert was a student whose life I, probably, impacted more than any other student in my 35 year teaching career. I will never forget Robert.
    The link that you gave on February 29, 2012 could, also, be used as a reference to parents to know what books to buy (or to check out of the library) for their children to read, so that they could know, with certainty, that their children were reading for pleasure on an independent level and not on a frustration level. You are correct about the need for word attack skills to help improve a student’s comprehension. The posts that I have written on SQ3R aid comprehension skills, primarily. Within the next month, I will try to enter a post on word attack skills.
    Teacher and Mom,
    You are correct that most middle and high school teachers do not have much background in the teaching of reading in the content areas. I held inservice training sessions for peer teachers related to reading-in-the-content-areas of English, mathematics, social studies, and science, at one point in my career. I will try to “resurrect” some of that material and post it on this blog in the coming months.

    Also, when I earned my M.Ed. as a Reading Specialist at Georgia State University, that university had an excellent reading program. However, that was in 1973, and of course much changes in that many years, so I do not know about their reading program now, but you might give them a call regarding their reading courses, at the downtown campus, and in various schools in outlying areas.
    I hope you, both, have a rewarding week ahead. You are, both, inspirations as teachers. Thank you for visiting my blog.

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