McRuffy Press doesn’t offer placement tests, but we have included the last tests from the grade levels in our Language Art (Phonics & Reading) and Math programs as pdf files on this page. The tests are not comprehensive of the entire curriculum but may offer some guidance.

End of Year Tests

First Grade:         Language Arts Test      Math Test

Second Grade:    Language Arts Test      Math Test

Third Grade:        Language Arts Test      Math Test

Fourth Grade:      Language Arts Test      Math Test

Fifth Grade:                                               Math Test

We have resisted developing placement test for the following reasons:

  1. Our general recommendation is to follow grade levels and adjust the pacing of instruction within reason.
  2. Our curriculum is based on national and state standards.
  3. Concepts such as phonics and math follow logical sequences that should be taught systematically.
  4. Tests can’t measure everything.
  5. Test items may not actually test the thoroughness of knowledge that the child actually gains from the instructional process.
  6. Not all concepts taught are readily testable. Just because something isn’t tested doesn’t mean it isn’t important.
  7. Students benefit from multiple exposures or review of concepts over a period of years because of developmental changes deepening understanding.
  8. Students gain background knowledge outside of formal instruction that they will apply over years. If students test above grade level there is a temptation to skip grade levels.
  9. If students test well below grade level, they may need more in-depth testing than a placement test can provide.
  10. A placement test may create the wrong expectations of a perfect fit. Our curricula teach many concepts. Students may have mastered some concepts and have no knowledge of others. There’s no perfect fit because every learner is different. Yet, there are universal concepts that can be taught that will propel students to educational growth.


General Placement Guidelines for Reading, Phonics, Language Arts 

Entering Preschool

The ability to listen and follow instructions are good prerequisites to look for when beginning our Preschool programs. They were designed to emphasize concepts that come just before Kindergarten and make good TK programs (a California early learning initiative), sometimes thought of as K4.

Entering Kindergarten:

Entering the kindergarten level placement is more about development, rather than knowledge of letters or numbers. If students are showing the ability to learn and retain simple concepts, they should be ready to begin our Kindergarten Reading & Phonics programs.

Our preschool curriculum will put students ahead for beginning the Kindergarten program by teaching letter names, number names, and colors; but the kindergarten programs do start with foundational learning. So, the preschool program is not absolutely necessary, but it can make the transition to the more formal instruction in kindergarten easier.

Entering First Grade:

The most important concepts to have some skill at are reading short vowel words (consonant – vowel – consonant pattern) and basic long vowel words with silent e.

It the child is proficient with short vowel words, but not long vowel words, McRuffy Press does sell just the second half of the Kindergarten program to help bridge the gap before entering first grade.

Entering Second Grade:

If the child is proficient with first grade phonics concepts they are likely ready for second grade. This would include:

Beginning consonant blends such as br in brick, tr in truck.

Ending consonant blends such as nk in skunk, rk in shark, lf in shelf, etc.

In general, students should be blending consonants in different positions in words.

Vowel digraphs such as oo in moon and book. In general, students should be able to recognize and read some word groups that use vowels in different ways from the Kindergarten concepts.

Entering Third Grade:

By the end of Second Grade, students will have completed the most common phonics concepts.

Students should be ready to apply phonics concepts to more complex words. Students will be transitioning to reading more multi-syllable words and recognize phonics letter patterns in those syllables.

Language and reading concepts become the major focus.

Entering Fourth Grade and above:

Phonics concepts are reviewed in the context of the spelling program with the emphasis on the phonics structure of syllables. Spelling lists are developed around some common phonics or other structural word groups. Beyond that, phonics instruction is more incidental than formal.

Language skills (such as grammar, sentence structure, mechanics), vocabulary development, reading, and writing concepts become the major focus.

FAQ: Is Reading Level a good indicator for placement?

It’s more important to avoid placing a student at a reading level that is too difficult, than a level that is too easy. If a child is testing below grade level, more consideration needs to be given to matching the tested grade level because it may be an indicator of educational development or an indicator that prerequisite knowledge is lacking.

If a child tests at a higher reading level than their grade level, other things should be taken into consideration before skipping grades. It’s not uncommon for students to test above grade level in reading, especially if the child has been taught using a solid, systematic phonics program such as the McRuffy Press curricula. The nature of phonics instruction is that it expands decoding ability beyond grade levels. While challenging students is important, a language arts program is much broader than just reading words on the page.

Many studies have proven that systematic phonics instruction helps students reading above grade level to achieve even greater reading levels. For example, if a child is reading at the third grade level at the end of Kindergarten skipping grades 1 and 2 would most likely hinder development as the child grows older and words become more complex. Phonics skills help students read and understand more complex words. It’s important to make the phonics connection to basic word structures. Plus, many language arts and spelling skills would have been skipped.

Every child should be reading more than the material provided in the curriculum. If a child is reading well beyond grade level, make a special effort to challenge the student with other reading material.

We would highly recommend that grade levels not be skipped without solid evaluation and consultation with an educational professional.