Diagnostic Assessments of Reading (DAR)

Diagnostic Assessments of Reading (DAR)

Narrative Summary: 

DAR assesses students’ relative strengths and weaknesses in key areas of reading and language. Teachers use DAR to identify areas in which struggling readers need help and to demonstrate to students what they already know and the next steps they need for improvement.

Intended Population: 

K–12 students and adults


DAR may be used to:

  • Provide analysis of a student’s reading proficiency
  • Identify causes of reading difficulties
  • Provide teachers with diagnostic information to plan individual or group reading instruction
Skills Measured-Test Content: 

DAR assesses several areas of reading and language skills:

  • Print Awareness
  • Phonological Awareness
  • Letters and Sounds
  • Word Recognition
  • Word Analysis
  • Oral Reading
  • Silent Reading Comprehension
  • Spelling
  • Word Meaning
Range of Skill Levels: 
  • Print Awareness: Approximately K–2
  • Phonological Awareness: Approximately K–2
  • Letters and Sounds: approximately K–2
  • Word Recognition: Levels 1-1 through 11/12
  • Word Analysis: approximately K–3
  • Oral Reading: Levels 1-1 through 11/12
  • Silent Reading Comprehension: Levels 1/2 through 11/12
  • Spelling: Levels 1-1 through 11/12
  • Word Meaning: Levels 1 through 11/12
Number of Items per Test: 
  • Print Awareness: 6 items
  • Phonological Awareness: 36 items
  • Letters and Sounds: 51 items
  • Word Recognition: 110 items, 10 per grade level
  • Word Analysis: 115 items
  • Oral Reading: One passage per grade level
  • Silent Reading Comprehension: One passage with one oral retell per grade level; 4 multiple choice items per grade level at levels 3–11/12
  • Spelling: 5 items per grade level
  • Word Meaning: 4 items per grade level
Types of Items: 

Open response, multiple choice

Development of Items: 

The items (words and reading passages) selected for the tryout forms of the DAR were compared for difficulty and grade placement based on various standard sources—word lists, readability measures, and grade placement in widely used curriculum materials. Based on the data from the tryout and the authors’ expert determination, words and passages were selected for the validation edition test levels. Words and passages that demonstrated the most growth potential across several levels were preferred. For the tryout of several of the tests—Word Recognition, Spelling, and Word Meaning—standard word lists were used to help place words at the proper level of difficulty. Difficulty levels for each of the passages on the Oral Reading and Silent Reading Comprehension tests were obtained using a variety of procedures: trial testing of 400 students in grades 1–12 on an experimental version of the test, readability analyses of each of the passages using the new Dale-Chall formula (close score and reading level) for the primary levels, readability analysis using the Spache formula, and a qualitative evaluation by the authors and one or more highly experienced teachers. For the Spelling test, the authors consulted the writing and reading lists in addition to the classic spelling lists. The words on the Spelling test were compared to the difficulties listed on the classic writing lists. Five standard reading word lists were also used to help position words at the proper level of meaning difficulty for the Word Meaning test. The second edition of DAR builds on the first. The basic format of the test and many of the original DAR materials were retained for Form A of the second edition. However, numerous changes were made and new material was added, some of which further extends the use of DAR into kindergarten. In fall 2004, a research study was conducted to gather current data on student performance on what would become Form A of the second edition of DAR. This study and its results are described in detail in part 4 of the technical manual.

Size of Item Bank: 

Size of the item bank is reflected in items assigned to Forms A and B.


DAR includes the following subtests:

  • Phonological Awareness subtests:
    • Rhyming Words
    • Segmenting Words
    • Hearing Initial Consonant Sounds
    • Hearing Final Consonant Sounds
    • Auditory Blending
  • Letters and Sounds subtests:
    • Naming Capital Letters
    • Naming Lowercase Letters
    • Matching Letters
    • Matching Words
    • Writing Words
  • Word Analysis subtests:
    • Consonant Sounds
    • Consonant Blends
    • Short Vowel Sounds
    • Rule of Silent E
    • Vowel Digraphs
    • Diphthongs
    • Vowels with R
    • Two-Syllable Words
    • Polysyllabic Words

The following tests do not have subtests:

  • Print Awareness
  • Word Recognition
  • Oral Reading
  • Silent Reading Comprehension
  • Spelling
  • Word Meaning
Alternate Test Forms: 

DAR has two test forms (Forms A and B).

Required / Recommended Administrator Training: 

No special training or instructions are required beyond the directions provided in the Response Record and Teacher’s Manual.

Test Administration Procedures: 

There are no set time limits, but testing generally takes about 40 minutes per student. The teacher should maintain a brisk pace to maintain students’ interests and to get a true appraisal of student achievement. Testing should take place in a quiet room, free of distractions. Accommodations for individual students are permitted unless those accommodations involve reading material to the student that is meant to be read by the student. Instructions on routing, going on, stopping, and mastery levels are provided test-by-test in the Response Record.

Scoring - How: 

Scoring is simultaneous with administration; whether a student masters or does not master a test determines which test he or she proceeds to next.

Scoring - Type: 

Hand scoring.

Scoring - Who: 

The person (classroom teacher, reading specialist, special education teacher, etc.) who administers DAR scores the test by hand while administering the test.

Scoring - How Long: 

Scoring occurs simultaneously with administration, so time will vary from student to student. It takes approximately 40 minutes to administer and score the test.

Reporting Procedures: 

The teacher can fill out the DAR Interpretive Profile at the back of the Response Record for a paper overview of the student’s mastery levels. With Dar ScoringPro, the teacher can enter this mastery information into the computer to aggregate and disaggregate data.

Time Needed for Assessment: 

Administration time is approximately 40 minutes.

Publisher / Company / Source: 

Riverside Publishing
425 Spring Lake Drive
Itasca, IL 60143–2079
Telephone: 1–800–323–9540
Fax: 1–630–467–7192
Product is available now.

Versions & Publication Dates: 

Second Edition, 2005–2006


Visit the Web site for cost information and package details.

Additional Comments: 

The Trial Teaching Strategies (TTS) Online offers brief informal lessons, which have been suggested as a result of the formal tests.