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Determining reading level?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I'm really confused about how to figure out my son's reading level. A month ago, I thought it was mid-1st grade. Then he picked out Frog and Toad and read it fairly easily (he has to sound out some words)-- which is 2nd grade. Today is his bday and he received a book that is grade level 3.7 (according to the scholastic website), and read the first page easily, with only 1-2 words per page he needed help with on the next few pages. He did have to sound out quite a few words on every page but did so quickly. I would consider that "too hard", but looking it up online says that would be considered instructional or even independent level. He seemed to enjoy reading it as long as I'd help with the words he couldn't get. I'm not sure he couldn't read 90% of the words in even higher level books. I have never had a reason to give him a 4th+ grade level book (and most probably wouldn't interest him, anyway, or would go over his head with the vocabulary) but I'm not sure he couldn't do it.
Any tests that are good?
post #2 of 22
There's a website you can go to where you enter a paragraph of something your child has read, and it gives you the approximate grade level....it will take some digging for me to find it, but I'll post it here when I do.
post #3 of 22
I think the ultimate test is giving your child a book to read cold and seeing whether he reads and enjoys it independently without significant help. Keep in mind that there are a lot of different criteria on which grade level is judged--and different leveling systems have different criteria. Sometimes it's more about the number of words than the difficulty of the words themselves, and Frog & Toad might be an example of a book being rated higher than it would be otherwise just because it's a "chapter" book.

My DD can read very, very well in terms of decoding. She could probably read 90% of the words in many of my college textbooks, but that doesn't make it her reading level. (Thank goodness )
post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
The book he was reading that is supposedly grade level 3.7 had this first paragraph:
"The Stein family lived in the pretty pink house with lovely purple shutters down at the end of Daffodil Street. Everything about the house was bright and cheery. Everything, that is, except the upstairs bedroom with the tiny round window." He didn't need help or take long on any word. He read the first 2 chapters (8 pages) with help on tricky words (redecorate, pterodactyl, piranha).
He won't continue reading if he can't figure out a word, which I think holds him back a lot. My oldest son (in 1st grade, 1st grade reading level) will skip a word and then figure it out in context but Luka will just quit reading if he gets stuck on a word and no one is there to help him. I think this might be a perfectionist/immaturity issue.
It seems like he liked the chapters he read of this book a lot more than he likes most of the easy readers I've been giving him. But at the same time I don't want to give him books that are too hard and have him get frustrated. That's why I'm looking for a way to determine his reading level other than just giving him harder books to see how it goes.
post #5 of 22
If I had endless time, I'd do a book list of reading levels with different #s for decoding, endurance, comprehension, age appropriateness of content, etc.

I know that for my DS, these aspects of reading are pretty scattered. His decoding level is quite high, compared to his endurance. Of course being a sensitive 3 yo, he get scared or sad easily when reading (just this evening he was reading The Big Hungry Bear again, and as always he skipped the "scary" page.) I'll bet most kids are like this, though in different ways, like having high endurance but a lower ability to decode.
post #6 of 22
You could just visit http://www.lexile.com/. You'll probably be able to find what you need there.
post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
You could just visit http://www.lexile.com/. You'll probably be able to find what you need there.
That requires you to have a Lexile score to use to find books. You can "fudge it" with the "Find A Book" feature and match the book to the Lexile score but I don't know how accurate that would be.

The reading specialist in our school said decoding is almost always higher than comprehension. My ds' decodes at an age equivalency of 20yo. They say his comprehension is 4th grade. To be honest, the way they tested his comprehension was to have him read a leveled book and they asked him questions afterwards. So I'm not sure exactly how precise that is. He's 6yo and doesn't have the attention span to do reading past that level because of the duration and font size. But in smaller chunks, he does read above that level and understands quite a bit of it.

When I taught, reading level was crucial because once a child hits less than 90% accuracy they get frustrated and the process is laborious enough that some will struggle but others will just stop.
post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by heatherdeg View Post
That requires you to have a Lexile score to use to find books. You can "fudge it" with the "Find A Book" feature and match the book to the Lexile score but I don't know how accurate that would be.
Fudge it? No.. you put the book into the search box and it gives you the book's actual Lexile score. The Frog and Toad books, for example, have Lexiles ranging from 330 to 440.

Quote:
The reading specialist in our school said decoding is almost always higher than comprehension. My ds' decodes at an age equivalency of 20yo. They say his comprehension is 4th grade. To be honest, the way they tested his comprehension was to have him read a leveled book and they asked him questions afterwards. So I'm not sure exactly how precise that is. He's 6yo and doesn't have the attention span to do reading past that level because of the duration and font size. But in smaller chunks, he does read above that level and understands quite a bit of it.
Again, I'm not sure where the confusion is. Comprehension is the ability to understand what you're reading; If you can't demonstrate understanding beyond a fourth grade level, then that's where your comprehension is.
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
Again, I'm not sure where the confusion is. Comprehension is the ability to understand what you're reading; If you can't demonstrate understanding beyond a fourth grade level, then that's where your comprehension is.
But it's not that simple. Is it about understanding the words? The subtext? The facts? The motivation of the characters? What about being able to relate it to your own life? What if you understand it as you're reading, but don't remember the specific facts you are asked about afterwards (something that used to happen to me regularly in school)? What if you understand it better than the person asking the questions and your answers reflect that (again, something that happened to me)? What if you understand it but aren't willing to cooperate in being quizzed (which is why I am sometimes clueless as to how much DD understands)?

Also, depending on familiarity and interest, kids may understand a good deal at a much higher reading level than the level at which they can understand everything.
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by no5no5 View Post
But it's not that simple. Is it about understanding the words?
No, understanding the words would fall under "decoding".

Quote:
The subtext? The facts? The motivation of the characters? What about being able to relate it to your own life? What if you understand it as you're reading, but don't remember the specific facts you are asked about afterwards (something that used to happen to me regularly in school)? What if you understand it better than the person asking the questions and your answers reflect that (again, something that happened to me)?
You're talking about varying degrees of comprehension here.

Quote:
What if you understand it but aren't willing to cooperate in being quizzed (which is why I am sometimes clueless as to how much DD understands)?
Completely different, and has much less to do with comprehension than it does with personality conflict. There's obviously a difference between being incapable of explaining and being unwilling to explain. That said, a teacher cannot assume a child comprehends and is simply unwilling to explain. A parent, on the other hand, ought to be able to tell the difference.

Quote:
Also, depending on familiarity and interest, kids may understand a good deal at a much higher reading level than the level at which they can understand everything.
Who said that comprehension had to be universal? That would be ridiculous. My son could understand and explain maps in great detail, and was able to fully comprehend representations of geographic locations YEARS before he could read at all. Today he reads fiction at a solid seventh or eighth grade level, but has no trouble picking up a high school history text and relating (easily and well) information about battles, armaments, etc. For historical texts, particularly relating to warfare, Bean's comprehension level likely exceeds that of most tenth graders. That has absolutely nothing to do with his comprehension of fictional literature or scientific texts or maps or anything else that he might encounter in print.

This also goes to age-appropriateness; A fictional work that is aimed at eleventh graders isn't going to be appropriate for a seven year old, no matter how well he reads. His comprehension will reflect that-- dating, driving, high school-- all of those things are going to be outside of his realm of understanding. It could be a suitable text for determining reading level, but I wouldn't expect full comprehension and I wouldn't expect the text to be appropriate.
post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
No, understanding the words would fall under "decoding".
Hm. I thought decoding was about being able to pronounce words. For example, I can decode "twas brillig, and the slithy toves/did gyre and gimble in the wabe" but I don't understand half of the words (though I certainly have a sense of what the author means).

Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
You're talking about varying degrees of comprehension here.
Yes, exactly. Understanding a 4th grade level book may mean many different things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
Completely different, and has much less to do with comprehension than it does with personality conflict. There's obviously a difference between being incapable of explaining and being unwilling to explain. That said, a teacher cannot assume a child comprehends and is simply unwilling to explain. A parent, on the other hand, ought to be able to tell the difference.
Well, I guess you can count that amongst my many faults, then, because I often think that DD doesn't understand something at all, only to find out weeks later that she's been dwelling on it at a much deeper level than the author intended.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
Who said that comprehension had to be universal? That would be ridiculous.
I thought that was you, saying it, but I guess I misunderstood.
post #12 of 22
I use lexiles. Different programs use different variables, so the same book can have widely different scores.

What about picture books with great stories? Or non-fiction?
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
Again, I'm not sure where the confusion is. Comprehension is the ability to understand what you're reading; If you can't demonstrate understanding beyond a fourth grade level, then that's where your comprehension is.
Well, if you give him 6th grade level stuff with larger font and only give him one chapter, he gets it. (I should note that we're ruling out vision problems at the moment) But yeah, I kind of thought that the lack of endurance required to do the full 6th grade level text meant he just wasn't at a 6th grade level. None-the-less, he does "comprehend" the text. He just gets bored with the content most of the time and doesn't get through the whole thing. Maybe if he were truly "into" the story (and granted, I haven't really bothered to look for one at that level) he MIGHT actually power through it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
No, understanding the words would fall under "decoding".
No. Decoding is sounding out the word and being able to properly pronounce it. Understanding the word is comprehension.


Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
[color=Indigo]This also goes to age-appropriateness; A fictional work that is aimed at eleventh graders isn't going to be appropriate for a seven year old, no matter how well he reads.
Totally agreed... and the primary reason I gave up looking for higher level books for mine.
post #14 of 22
At my 5yo's school they use the Guided Reading chart and somehow she came out only at Grade 2 or Level L equivalent because they emphasize comprehension and the level "testing" is oral. She most certainly can read and comprehend at what I consider 4th grade material and can read hundreds of pages a day.

I found this comparison on the HM site of the text level/grade equivalent measures.

Her teacher is using her level to differentiate her instruction and my 5yo seems pretty content with that for now.
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by heatherdeg View Post
No. Decoding is sounding out the word and being able to properly pronounce it. Understanding the word is comprehension.
Today at the Barnes and Noble cafe, DS sounded out "Godiva" and really didn't understand what it meant. He just could see it was the word that came before "Chocolate Cheesecake" which he did understand.
post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by eepster View Post
Today at the Barnes and Noble cafe, DS sounded out "Godiva" and really didn't understand what it meant. He just could see it was the word that came before "Chocolate Cheesecake" which he did understand.
But Godiva is a proper name - what's to understand about that?
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by eepster View Post
Today at the Barnes and Noble cafe, DS sounded out "Godiva" and really didn't understand what it meant. He just could see it was the word that came before "Chocolate Cheesecake" which he did understand.
At least he knows what's truly important!

And to take us back on-topic, here are some resources I've bookmarked for determining reading level. I need to go over these again with my boys, as my 5yo's reading is taking leaps and bounds and now I have no idea where he is.

http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/articles/060899.htm (free and basic)
http://www.sonlight.com/quick-reading-assessment.html (free and slightly less basic)
http://www.sonlight.com/letsgolearn.html (pay to use system)
https://dibels.uoregon.edu/measures/ (download a formal evaluation)
https://dibels.uoregon.edu/benchmark.php (related to above)
http://www.arbookfind.com/default.aspx (to compare books he can read with their AR level)
http://www.lexile.com/ (compare books and Lexile measures)

HTH!
Heather
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigerle View Post
But Godiva is a proper name - what's to understand about that?
First the realization that it is a proper name, and not somehow descriptive of the cheesecake. Then knowing that it is a maker of fancy chocolates, and even deeper knowing the story of Lady Godiva from which the chocolate makers picked the name.

Of course usually DS asks me about the meaning of new words he comes across, but in this case once he hit the part that said "chocolate cheesecake," finding out the meaning of "Godiva" was completely for gotten.
post #19 of 22
Heather, thanks for those links. I've been curious as to where Christopher's reading level is. He took the Stanford Achievement Test this past March (6.5 years old) and they said he had an reading level of 3.7 grade equivalency and a read comprehension level of 5.8 grade equivalency. I just tested him with Sonlight's quick test and he is on a 5th grade level according to them. I guess everyone differs when it comes to reading level.

Right now Chris enjoys reading Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Encyclopedia Brown.
post #20 of 22
My kids (6 and almost 5) struggled with an Amelia Bedelia book the other night that was only level 2 but sometimes they will pick up a book that you'd think was a lot harder than that and read it with no prob, maybe because it's just about something they are interested in so they get the words easier. I think there's a place on the learning curve where there's no grade level assignment that would be helpful for me to put on my kids and we're probably right there.
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