I'm actually not even a teacher yet, but I'm getting very close! Teaching reading when there are different reading levels in your class is an issue that has been grabbing my attention lately. What are some effective ways any of you have found to at least somewhat accurately gauge a student's reading level? I still hate the idea of tests for such a thing, but do they work? Any other ways that are more effective?

Tags: English, Reading

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I have used SRI testing (Scholastic Reading Inventory) through our library in order to group my students according to their
reading levels. Also, I have utilized nwea.org and looked at my students reading scores to help me group. I also use differentiated instruction to meet my students needs. I use literature circles to allow my students a CHOICE in what
literature they may want to read. This is NOT by reading levels.
The best way to find out how well a child reads, is to have them read for you. If you have short readins selections at various reading levels, you can use them to get a general idea how your students are reading, Silent reading is more important than oral reading, as the goal of reading is compehension, not fluency. A quick check on comprehension can be determined it you give a funny book to a child and tell them to read it silently. If they start to smile, sniggle, giggle or guffaw, they are comprehending. You can then test the materials to see what level it is at.
I did use the DRA program for years where they had oral reading passages, running records, silent reading and comprehension and I really liked using that combined with teacher judgement as well. Though it was hard to test at the beginning of the year, I always felt very comfortable placing my students in groups with the combination of resources I used. Thanks for the feedback!
I have a word of caution for basing reading levels on having students read out loud. As a second grader, I was placed in the lowest reading group based on my oral reading scores. Little did my teacher know, but I was reading on a 5th grade level with comprehension. I was painfully shy in the second grade, I was intimidated by my teacher (she was very tall and I was a very small, short child) and I had mild attention deficit problems. Fortunately, my teacher recognized that I was placed incorrectly quickly and moved me to a more appropriate reading group (with the third grade class across the hall), but I always look back on that when I assess children for any leveled group.
You make a good point. One of the things I like to do is have them read just the first few pages out loud so that I can get a good understanding of their oral fluency. Then I have them read the rest to themselves.
I feel like Rachel is asking about ways to automate the assessment of student's reading levels. I know there are solutions out there, but I'm not quite familiar with what is most current. Several years back I used Accelerated Reader for this type of work.
Several months ago in a reading discussion at Fireside Learning Steve linked us to a reading evaluator, I can't find it but I've asked him where it is and I'll let you know when I hear. BUT here is something interesting---if you put a passage in Word and run the Spellcheck you can also check the Readability Level. Make sure at least one word is misspelled so the Spellcheck will pop up---click on 'Options' at the bottom of the Spellcheck window and choose 'Readability Level'. After Spellcheck is finished you will see a window that has Readability Level of the passage. This is the readability level of a blog entry of one of my 6th graders.


Nancy,

I used Word to grade the Artis stories on my website http://www.educationalsynthesis.org/language/index-Artis.html but I do not know how accurately it determines reading level, especially at the lower levels. It seems to make a decision based on the number of syllables, but does not make any determination of the difficulty of individual words. But, it is better than nothing!
I usually don't tell my students about it, they really get distracted by it!!
What level will you be teaching? For middle and high school, I have found that a student's attitudes about reading usually correlate with their ability. The more a student says they like to read, the better they are at it. I do a reading survey at the beginning of the school year that asks about a students reading habits and attitudes. We also use the SRI at our school and Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (not the best measure).
FInd an informative assessment that will give you a LEXILE score. Many state and district also provide a Lexile score in the Communication Arts tests they give. There are guidelines on the net to tell you how the score correlates to grade equivalency. Our District uses the SRI. Scholastic reading inventory. You can also do Reading Fluency tests. There are some great resources RTI too, that can give you grade level sample readings to administer to your students.
Thanks for your response! I know it may help others who are struggling to find a balance in placing their students in groups.

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