There are numerous formal tests that can be used to assess these four areas but it would take many hours to assess and you would be left with perhaps a single score which told you whether the student was average or not. In order to make instruction more effective and to increase student learning, informal measures are best because they are more time efficient and the results are specific as to what you need to teach. Here are some examples that you might want to try.

Assessment Ideas for Grades K-2:
Print Conventions: Use unfamiliar books and orally ask students to identify formats or punctuation. Ask them to follow as you read to look for voice-to-print match, etc.

Word Recognition: For use of cueing strategies take a running record (sample record: PDF) to see how the student applies the strategies. Have the student read phonetically correct nonsense words to determine the student's ability to apply phonic generalizations.

Comprehension: Present the student with a cloze passage (words are left out of text read) of the book read to see how well the student can remember the book read and select words to fit the language of the book read. Ask the student to respond to literal and interpretative questions about the text.

Writing: Have the student write a story. Assess the student's ability to compose appropriate language, follow the writing conventions (spelling, punctuation, etc.) and address the writing task.

Assessment Ideas for Grades 3-5:
Word Recognition: Have the student complete a matching assessment that has the definitions on one side and the vocabulary words on the other. Put the vocabulary words in a box and have the student select the appropriate vocabulary to complete the sentence.

Comprehension/Study Skills: Ask student to make connections before, during, and after reading: text to self, text to text, and text to world. Ask the student to use an index to answer questions that make use of that index.

Genre: Ask the student to complete a literary elements chart (PDF) on a book. Ask the student to list the characteristics of a specific genre or to write a short piece in that genre.

Writing: Ask the student to perform a writing task with multiple elements. Assess the writing piece for inclusion of these elements, language usage, organization, and mechanics.

The most important aspect to this type of assessment is the specific purpose for evaluation and matching that purpose to an appropriate measure. An example of an inappropriate measure is the student is orally asked questions about a story when the teacher wanted to know if the student could respond in writing to questions about the story. The teacher needs to develop the assessment for exactly the purpose of evaluation.

Assessment Tool Types (PDF) from Scholastic Red: Middle School Literacy: Improving Text Comprehension Course. Learn about Scholastic Red courses for classroom teachers.