Wheldall Assessment of Reading Passages

Reading fluency reflects a student’s automaticity in decoding. To read effectively and with understanding, students need to be able to decode words effortlessly so that they are not wasting cognitive capacity that could otherwise be deployed in making sense of what is being read. Reading fluency is a powerful predictor of overall reading progress. The Wheldall Assessment of Reading Passages (or WARP) has been designed to identify low-progress readers, and to monitor their reading performance over time, using a quick, simple, reliable and valid test of oral reading fluency.

Who's it for?

  • Designed to assess the reading for students in Year 2 to Year 5, and older low-progress readers in upper primary and early secondary years
  • Suitable for use by classroom teachers, learning support teachers and other school personnel involved in literacy instruction

Key Benefits

  • Quick and easy to administer, with no special qualifications required
  • Measures reading in its natural context
  • Passages have been specifically designed to be of similar difficulty level
  • Can be used to screen large groups to identify those at risk of falling behind
  • Can be used to monitor the progress of individual low-progress readers on a regular basis (i.e. weekly), allowing for adjustment to instruction
  • Includes easy to use benchmark/cut-off scores

How is it administered?

Both the Initial Assessment and the Progress Monitoring Assessment are carried out on a one-to-one basis between the tester and the student.

The Initial Assessment should take no longer than five minutes (as it involves reading three passages of 1 minute each and averaging the three results) but the Progress Monitoring Assessment should take no longer than one minute per assessment.

Students read for just one minute from specially written 200-word passages, which have been designed to be of similar difficulty level. The number of words read correctly in that minute is a measure of the student’s level of oral reading fluency.

The WARP has been shown to correlate very highly with more general measures of reading accuracy as well as reading comprehension. The passages are presented in a consistent way each time, following set procedures.

Although the WARP has not been standardized in the traditional sense, provisional WARP benchmarks have been provided to help identify students who are falling behind. If a student is performing in the bottom 25% for his/her grade level this would indicate that additional instructional support is needed. During and following intervention, the WARP can be used to monitor progress and the WARP chart provides a quick and simple means of illustrating the progress a student is making.

As the WARP can be used both for screening as well as for measuring students’ ongoing progress, it provides teachers with an early-warning signal identifying those students who may require additional intervention.

Read our WARP FAQs below, including on the research undertaken on WARP. 

How does the WARP relate to Response to Intervention?

Assessment is an important part of a Response to Intervention (RtI) model, as educators need to determine when students need more intensive instruction (and also, when they no longer require intensive instruction).

This assessment must be conducted frequently (and therefore quickly), and must be a valid measure of an entire academic area (in this case, reading). Curriculum-based measurement satisfies these criteria, and as the WARP is a curriculum-based measure of reading, it can be used for this purpose.

Within an RtI model, the WARP can be used for screening, progress monitoring, and instructional decision-making. 

Kit components

The WARP Kit consists of the following components:

  • Manual
  • Presentation booklet, containing three different Initial Assessment Passages and 10 different Progress Monitoring Passages from which students read during the test
  • 30 Initial Assessment Passages Record Forms
  • 15 Progress Monitoring Passages Record Forms (including an area to manually chart a student’s progress)
  • Access to a tool for the management and charting of students test scores (downloadable from the MultiLit Members’ Area).

Please note: Both the Initial Assessment Passages Record Forms and the Progress Monitoring Passages Record Forms can only be used once and will need to be replaced once the Forms provided in the Kit have been used.

Information for Parents

The WARP is used with students who attend the MultiLit Literacy Centre. The WARP is an important part of the initial and post testing assessment battery of reading assessment and provides useful information for planning student programs. The WARP is also used to monitor the progress of students in Year 2 and above who are enrolled in a 10-week program.

Teachers who are using the WARP in schools can discuss your child’s test results with you and provide advice about whether additional instructional support is needed. When such additional support is required and offered by the school, your child’s ongoing WARP results can be provided in chart form, a quick and simple means of illustrating the progress your child is making.


Work on the WARP commenced at Macquarie University Special Education Centre (MUSEC) in 1995 with a view to develop a literacy skills test that provided a means of tracking reading progress, particularly of low-progress readers, to a level that represents functional literacy.

This resulted in a set of generic 200-word passages, each comprising an entire story, of roughly equal difficulty. These passages were trialled with children in many schools.

Subsequently, the WARP has been the subject of several empirical studies to establish its technical characteristics. This involved thousands of children at different grade levels (Years 2 to 5), and has established the WARP passages as both highly reliable and valid indicators of overall reading performance.

These studies detailed the continuing development of parallel passages, the collection of grade ‘norms’ or benchmarks, the establishment of the test’s reliability and validity, the exploration of gender differences, and so on. A list of published studies can be found in the Manual.

This data was then used to estimate the average score for the various year groups as well as the cut off score on the WARP for each Year that indicates critically low reading performance.


The WARP has been designed to assess and monitor the reading performance of children. It is generally suitable for students at a reading level between Year 2 to Year 5

It is designed for use by teachers and other professionals who have some expertise in the area of reading. It is, however,very simple and straightforward so it could be administered by almost anyone. Although no specific training is required to successfully implement the WARP, attendance at the one-day Measuring Student Reading Progress for Schools Workshop is highly recommended.

Each WARP passage is read for just one minute but the initial assessment is based on the average performance over the three ‘baseline’ passages for greater accuracy and takes about five minutes.
There is no need to be too strict about this but try to keep as close as possible to a weekly interval between testings but one day either side is unlikely to make much difference.
Numerous studies published in refereed academic journal articles have confirmed that the WARP is both highly reliable and a valid measure of reading. The Manual includes a listing of these studies.
The WARP is standardised in the sense that it is predicated upon a standard set of passages consistently administered in a standard way. It is not, however, norm-referenced.
It will provide an indication of how well a child is reading compared to the average performance level for students who have experienced the same amount of reading instruction (years and terms).
No, reading ages are not provided.
Teachers could use the WARP as an initial screening measure to identify low-progress readers. Parents should be informed if their child is performing in the bottom 25% for his/her grade level.

Measuring Reading Progress Professional Development Workshop

It is not enough to simply assess the reading of students – it is important that teachers know what to do with the information.

This Professional Development Workshop will provide teachers with a solid understanding of the importance of using data to monitor students’ reading progress on a very regular basis so that no student gets left behind.

It will also emphasise the need for a consistent school-wide approach to reading assessment, linking the measurement of reading progress to the three tiers of intervention within the Response to Intervention framework.

What the workshop covers

  • How to identify a good test
  • Types of reading assesments
  • What do we need to assess?
  • Problems with Running Records/benchmarking
  • How to create a coherent school-wide reading assessment process
  • Training in the WARP (Wheldall Assessment of Reading Passages), WARL (Wheldall Assessment of Reading Lists), WARN (Wheldall Assessment of Reading Nonwords) and the WSCS (Wheldall Sentence Comprehension Screener). The WARN can be used to predict which students are at risk of not meeting the Year 1 Phonic Screening Check threshold, while WARL and WARP can be used to screen students at risk of reading difficulties and to track their ongoing progress. The WSCS is a screening measure to identify receptive language difficulties in children entering their first year of school.

Who should attend

  • School leaders
  • Classroom and learning support teachers
  • School counsellors
  • Specialist reading teachers/tutors
  • Literacy coaches who are working with students from Foundation to Year 8/9.


1 Day (6 Hours)

Please note: The use of MultiLit publications and attendance at professional development workshops is for personal education use in schools with State/Territory accreditation (‘Accredited Schools’). Other commercial use, hiring or lending, or other use as part of any commercial, not-for-profit, or fee-paying program of instruction or tuition not carried out within an Accredited School is strictly prohibited.

Save Your Cart
Share Your Cart