Benchmark Assessment System


Using this comprehensive assessment to determine students' reading levels, teachers are able to:

  • Observe and quantify student reading behaviors
  • Engage students in comprehension conversations that go beyond retelling
  • Make informed decisions that connect assessment to responsive teaching.

BAS third edition

  • What is it?
  • Who is it for?
  • What's inside?
  • How is it implemented?

What is it?

Teachers’ most reliable resource to accurately identify each child’s instructional and independent reading levels according to the F&P Text Level Gradient and document their progress through one-on-one formative and summative assessment.

Designed for Reliable and Insightful Assessment

BAS assessments are conducted one-on-one. In Part 1 of the assessment, the student reads aloud and talks about the system’s original, precisely leveled fiction and nonfiction books while the teacher observes and notes the reader’s behaviors on carefully constructed Recording Forms. In Part 2, the teacher conducts a revealing Comprehension Conversation. In optional Part 3, the student responds to the text using a Writing About Reading prompt.

Engaging and Informative Benchmark Assessment Books

BAS offers unique, high-quality books developed under the careful direction of Fountas and Pinnell and written expressly for the purposes of literacy assessment along the F&P Text Level Gradient™.

Complete Tools for a Comprehensive Assessment

BAS provides teachers with precise tools and texts to comprehensively examine students’ literacy strengths and needs, and provides the critical link between assessment and instruction.

Using Assessment to Inform Instruction

BAS includes a copy of The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Continuum. This tool helps teachers link the results of assessment to their teaching to ensure students’ growth as learners.

Elevating Teacher Expertise

The embedded Professional Development Video collection provides models of teachers implementing the assessment, training in coding, scoring, analyzing, and interpreting oral reading records as well as guidelines for and models of the Comprehension Conversation.

Who is it for?

The Benchmark Assessment Systems are for K-8 classroom teachers.

Each assessment enables teachers to:

  • Determine students’ instructional and independent reading levels
  • Recommend a placement level for instruction
  • Form initial groups for reading instruction
  • Plan for efficient and effective instruction
  • Identify students who need intervention and extra help
  • Monitor and report student progress across a school year and grade levels
  • Assess the outcomes of teaching
  • Inform parent conferences.

Who is it for

What's inside?

All components of the system are conveniently packaged in a sturdy box that includes hanging file folders in which to organize the benchmark books and Recording Forms for easy access.

Assessment Books

High-quality fiction and nonfiction books written, edited, and extensively field-tested to represent their designated level on the F&P Text Level Gradient™.

  • 28 Books in BAS 1 for assessing Levels A—N
  • 30 books in BAS 2 for assessing Levels L—Z

bubbles sample bookmonarch sample bookBig snow sample book

Assessment Guide

Supports the implementation of the Benchmark Assessment Systems with:

  • an overview of the System
  • suggestions for assessment preparation
  • instructions on administering, coding, and scoring
  • instructions on analyzing and interpreting results
  • directions for documenting growth over time and monitoring progress
  • case study examples
  • directions for using results to group students and inform instruction.

Assessment guide cover

Assessment Forms

  • Finely-crafted forms allow the collection of reliable data.
  • Recording Forms guide teachers through an assessment protocol that reveals a wealth of information about the reader, including the reader’s accuracy. and self-corrections, comprehension, and fluency.
  • An innovative Comprehension Conversation is part of the assessment protocol at every level and provides details about a reader’s thinking within, beyond, and about the text.

Forms cover

The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Continuum

Names and categorizes literacy behaviors and understandings and provides a way to look for specific evidence of learning from pre-kindergarten through grade eight across eight instructional contexts

  • Essential tool for interpreting assessment results and planning responsive teaching.
  • Full color throughout, with streamlined organization and enhanced navigation.

Literacy Continuum cover

Student Forms

Optional assessments that allow teachers to gather diagnostic information to more precisely pinpoint a reader’s needs.

Student forms cover

Student Folders

Individual file folders are designed to store student assessment results and are printed with a longitudinal record of reading progress that can be passed from grade to grade.

folder cover

F&P Calculator/Stopwatch

Custom calculator for calculating students’ reading rate, percentage of accuracy, and self-correction ratio.


Digital Components

Online Resources

Online resources

  • Printable forms for assessment and summary
  • Professional Development Videos can be accessed and viewed as needed.

Professional Development Videos

Professional Development Videos

  • Provide a strong foundational understanding of the Benchmark Assessment System as well as training for teachers implementing the system.

Online Community Support

Online Community Support

  • Free membership at provides teachers with downloadable resources, consultant-monitored discussion boards, insightful blog posts, teaching tips, and more.

How is it implemented?

To facilitate a reading record, each book is accompanied by an easy-to-use Recording Form that captures the factors research shows most contribute to reading success: accuracy, fluency, and comprehension.

Part 1: Oral Reading

During Oral Reading, students read Benchmark Assessment books aloud while the teacher takes a detailed reading record. The reading record captures both big-picture and diagnostic information about a student. After the oral reading portion of the assessment, the teacher will be able to determine the student’s accuracy and fluency. In addition, teachers can go back and analyze self-corrections and errors to gain further diagnostic information that can inform teaching and the content of minilessons.

How is it implemented

Part 2: Comprehension Conversation

Following the reading of each Benchmark Assessment book, students and teachers engage in a Comprehension Conversation about the text. This unique approach not only gathers data about what students understand about a text, but it also provides an opportunity for teachers to get to know their students—a valuable use of time, especially at the start of the school year. During the conversation, teachers will prompt the student, but the goal is to have a flow of back-and-forth talk, with the student doing as much of the talking as possible.

Part 3: Writing About

Reading Some students perform better when they have the opportunity to reflect on text through the process of writing. They may reveal greater understanding than they do in the initial conversation. Each Benchmark Assessment System Recording Form includes a prompt for students to write about one of the books they have read. This optional assessment provides additional evidence of a student’s understanding through a concrete sample of their thinking.


Engaging and Informative Benchmark Books

The Benchmark Assessment Systems include unique, high-quality books written expressly for the purposes of assessment along the F& P Text Level Gradient. Each book was developed under the careful direction and supervision of Fountas and Pinnell according to their strict levelling protocols. To further ensure proper levelling, the books were vetted by a team of experienced classroom teachers, and Heinemann conducted a formal field study of the levelling that involved a broad spectrum of students.

View BAS Levelled Books


BAS Research

The authors of Benchmark Assessment System (BAS), Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell, are committed to the important role of research in the development and ongoing evaluation of BAS.

See all BAS Research


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