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


Researcher's Resources

The Researcher’s Resources page focuses on the development and history of the TPRI Early Reading Assessment.  Scroll down or use the links below to access each section.

TPRI Technical Reports

Click on the link below for psychometric data and a comprehensive technical report from the first K-2 TPRI development and implementation studies.

Technical Report - 1998 Version

Click on the links below for Technical Reports for later versions of the TPRI.

Technical Report - 1999 Version

Technical Report - 2010-2014 Version

Click on the link below for the Technical Report for Progress Monitoring for Beginning Readers (PMBR).

Technical Report - 2006-2008 Version

Background Information

Early reading assessments are required for all students attending public school in Texas in Kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 2 through TEC §28.006. The Texas Primary Reading Inventory (TPRI) is an early reading assessment designed to comply with the requirements of TEC §28.006 by facilitating a teacher’s capacity to:

  • a) identify students at risk for reading difficulties in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade
  • b) set learning objectives for these at risk students

The TPRI was originally developed in 1997 through the collaboration of three partners:

CARS was subsequently contracted to revise the TPRI in order to ensure alignment with the recently adopted Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), and research on reading skills development. In addition, CARS was asked to provide evaluations of the reliability and validity of the TPRI, which is an ongoing process. The rationale and purposes of the TPRI can be found in the TPRI Teacher’s Guide. The reports provide technical information on the development and revision, reliability, and validity of the TPRI.

At each grade level, the TPRI consists of a Screening Section and an Inventory Section. The screen permits the rapid assessment of individual students. Results indicate risk status identifying students who most likely do not need additional detailed assessment. The Inventory Section is a more in-depth assessment of reading and reading-related skills that allows the teacher to gain more information that can be used to determine the child’s level of risk for reading problems. However, the inventory is primarily designed to help the teacher set specific learning objectives for the child. Both the Screening Section and the Inventory Section are individually administered and are designed to be given by a trained teacher. 

Screening Design

The Screening Section of the TPRI is intended to help teachers quickly identify students who may be at risk for reading difficulty. It is important to realize the limitations of any assessment that attempts to identify more able students. Some students may not do well on the screening items, yet have no trouble progressing through a program of reading instruction. Other students may do well on the screening tasks, yet have difficulty learning to read. The TPRI screens are designed to minimize misidentification, but it is important to remember no instrument is infallible. Appropriate student reading instruction should be based on teacher observation, student work, knowledge of the student, other assessments, as well as TPRI data. The Screening Section of the TPRI is not a placement instrument, nor is it intended to replace the need for further evaluation of students who may need special student services. The performance of students on the Screening Sections of the TPRI signals teachers to focus on the specific instructional needs of their students. It may also signal additional data might need to be gathered.

The Screening Section of the TPRI consists of the following areas:

  • Graphophonemic Knowledge (K, Gr. 1) - The recognition of letters of the alphabet and the understanding of sound-symbol relationships.
  • Phonemic Awareness (K, Gr. 1) - The ability to identify and manipulate individual sounds within spoken words so that letters can be linked to sounds.
  • Word Reading (Gr. 1, Gr. 2, Gr. 3) - The correct identification of words.

The screens are based on empirically derived predictors of reading success. They consist of measures of phonological awareness and word reading skills that predict reading outcomes involving word recognition and comprehension skills. Each screen permits the teacher to complete a rapid assessment of all the students in the classroom. They are quick and efficient and are designed to identify students who may be at risk for reading difficulty.

It is important to recognize that a screen is not a diagnostic instrument and that not meeting criteria on the screen does not mean that the student has a reading problem – only a need for closer evaluation. In fact, the screen is designed to identify students who are not likely to have reading problems. A student who can meet criteria on the screen is at low risk for reading difficulties. The cut-point on the screen was deliberately set to over-identify students who may be at risk for reading problems. This decision was made because the failure to identify an at risk student (false negative error) is more serious than the identification of a student as “at risk” (false positive error) who experiences no subsequent difficulties with reading.

Whenever a screening device is used, these two kinds of errors will occur. Some students will meet criteria on the screen and yet will subsequently not learn to read at grade level. These errors (false negatives) are the most serious kinds of errors because these students do not receive the additional assistance they require at the earliest possible time, which makes their problems more difficult to remediate at a later time. The TPRI Screening Section has been developed to minimize the number of false negative errors.

Some students will not meet criteria on the screen and yet will be reading successfully by the end of the year, even in the absence of any supplementary assistance. These students represent “false positive” errors and are a concern because they may result in unnecessary demands on scarce intervention resources.

The two kinds of errors are tied together; attempts to lower false negative errors lead to an increase in false positive errors, and vice versa. The TPRI screen was designed to keep false positive errors as low as possible, while at the same time minimizing false negative errors. When employing the TPRI, or any other screening device, it is important to keep in mind these two types of errors and to avoid labeling students solely on the basis of their performance on the screen. As stated earlier, the screen is not diagnostic; it only serves to indicate the need for further assessment. Thus, a student who does not meet the screening criteria should be viewed as needing further evaluation. The inventory can be used to reduce or eliminate false positive errors and, if necessary, to plan learning objectives. Whereas an entire inventory could be given to every student without first administering the screening test, doing so would require substantially more time and effort on the part of teachers. Teachers should also use the student’s progress with the curriculum and their judgment to identify false negatives, i.e., students who meet criteria on the screen, but who struggle with reading. These students should also receive further assessment. It is also recommended that the Word Reading(at Gr. 1, Gr. 2, Gr. 3) and Reading Accuracy, Fluency and Comprehension portions of the inventory be given to all students, regardless of whether the student meets criteria on the screens, to ensure that all students who may need additional assistance are identified.

Even when various phonological awareness and related skills are assessed at the end of kindergarten or beginning of first grade, the link with the development of actual reading skills is not simple. A variety of indirect factors may impinge on the assessment of reading precursor skills that might also produce both false positive and false negative errors. For example, a student may do well on phonological awareness measures because of intense training or extensive literacy experiences, but still struggle with the development of word recognition skills because the training did not include a print component. Similarly, false positive errors may reflect the assessment of students from communities where many families have limited resources and are from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds with less exposure to English literacy-related activities. Because of the many possible indirect factors that may influence the student’s development, screening assessments should occur at several points during the student's development. At a minimum, the following assessment times are recommended:

  1. beginning and end of Kindergarten
  2. beginning and end of Grade 1
  3. beginning of Grade 2
  4. beginning of Grade 3  

Inventory Design

The Inventory Section is designed to permit a detailed, but informal, assessment of a student’s reading and reading-related skills. The primary purpose of the inventories is to assist the teacher in setting learning objectives for the student. By administering the entire inventory, the teacher may obtain further support for a judgment of the student’s reading skills development. Thus, the teacher can set learning objectives for an at risk student, but also has an opportunity to rectify a false positive error on the screening by using the inventory.

The Inventory Section of the TPRI consists of the following areas:
  • Book and Print Awareness (K) - Knowledge of the function of print and of the characteristics of books and other print materials.
  • Phonemic Awareness (K, Gr. 1) - The ability to identify and manipulate individual sounds within spoken words so that letters can be linked to sounds.
  • Listening Comprehension (K) - The ability to understand what has been read aloud.
  • Graphophonemic Knowledge and Word Reading (K, Gr. 1, Gr. 2, Gr. 3) - The recognition of letters of the alphabet and the understanding of sound-symbol relations (K, Gr. 1),word building activities (Gr. 1), spelling (Gr. 2, Gr. 3), and word reading (K optional at EOY, Gr. 1, Gr. 2, Gr.3).
  • Reading Accuracy (Gr. 1, Gr. 2, Gr. 3) - The ability to read grade-appropriate text accurately.
  • Reading Fluency (Gr. 1, Gr. 2, Gr. 3) - The ability to read connected text accurately, quickly, and without hesitation.
  • Reading Comprehension (Gr. 1, Gr. 2, Gr. 3) - The ability to understand what has been read.

Inventory items begin at levels that are developmentally less complex (easier) than the screening items. This is because the screens are designed to identify students not likely to be “at risk” for reading problems. In addition, the developmental progression allows the teacher to determine a student’s actual level of development in the components of the TPRI.

The inventories are subdivided into different tasks. Concepts are described as developed or still developing. Not all tasks need to be administered to all students. Thus, administration time is shortened.

Information gathered from the TPRI can be useful in identifying skill areas in which the student requires further instruction, which is the basis for planning learning objectives. However, the data gleaned from this inventory should be used in conjunction with other evaluations of student performance over time (e.g., samples of student work, lists of books that the student has read, and teacher observations) to provide an in-depth portrait of a student’s literacy acquisition. The TPRI was designed to inform instruction rather than to determine placement into programs for students with special needs. The TPRI does not replace the need for further evaluation for special services (e.g., speech and language services).

How the TPRI Stories Were Developed

In the 2010 TPRI new stories were included. What follows is a description of how these stories were developed.

These stories were written carefully to reflect typical reading development of students as they learn to read. Stories were written to conform to specific guidelines. First, they were written to conform to specific word level features based on what is taught at different points at each grade level. In addition, narrative stories were written to conform to story elements including:

  • Main character(s) who or what the story is mainly about
  • Setting where and when the story happens
  • Problem what the main character wants or the problem he/she has to solve
  • Major events most important things that happen to solve the problem
  • Outcome whether or not the problem is solved

In each grade, expository texts were also included which conform to informational text structure.
To determine what is typically taught, several reading series, district curriculum guides, and the reading standards (the TEKS, in Texas) were consulted. Thus, allowable word level features at specific time points do not reflect any one publisher's or district's scope and sequence, but reflect the reading standards. After the stories were written according to word level features, their levels of difficulty were verified using readability formulas.

Once written, the new stories were tested with roughly 3,000 students in Texas. Stories were tested both in terms of how well students could orally read each story and in terms of how well they could answer the comprehension questions from each story. The order of the stories in the TPRI reflects how students in this sample performed on these stories. For example, students at the specified grade level read the first story at each time point more easily, and read the second story with the more difficulty.

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