How do you determine a student’s reading level?

children reading

When we are working with a child it is important that we are working at their appropriate reading level. How do we determine this?

At the University clinic, this may mean using Reading A-Z program Reading A to Z. In the schools, there are many assessments including Fountas Pinell Fountas and Pinnell,

If you are using the assessment benchmark passages in Reading A to Z you are looking at three measures ( accuracy, fluency, and comprehension). The below chart will help you determine at what level you should be ‘instructing’ a student. We would not want to be at a frustration level but neither would we want to be instructing a student at a level that they are already independent at.

Accuracy/Decoding Comprehension
Independent 95-100% 90-100%
Instructional 90-94% 80-100%
Frustration 89% or below <80

Fluency rate is important as it gives us some information about the ease in which a child has been able to decode. A slower fluency rate can also impact a child’s comprehension as if it takes them a long time to decode they may lose the meaning of the passage.

Fluency rates are determined by grade level.Jan Hasbrouck and Gerald Tindal completed an extensive review of fluency. I have included their chart as well as how to determine if the fluency rate is appropriate for your student.Fluency-Hasbrouck-Tindal_chart

When we do a reading assessment we then have 3 measurements. It allows us to determine what skill areas we need to work on. Is the child having problems with decoding? If so what area of decoding are they having difficulty with? Is the child’s comprehension skills poor?  What type of questions is the student having difficulty with?  Is their fluency rate poor?  We would then want to practice fluency skills.

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