How do you know at what level your kids are reading? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 28 Old 11-08-2008, 11:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Many times people refer to their kids as "reading at a 3rd grade level" or whatever. How do you know this? Is it based on the type of books they're reading or the curriuclum you're using or some type of test?

Just curious, really.....

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#2 of 28 Old 11-08-2008, 01:16 PM
 
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I think most people who talk about the level their kids are reading at have done some sort of testing of their children. There are tons of achievement tests you can buy, like CAT and such, but also lots of free placement tests you can download. K-12 has pretty in depth ones, and several curriculum companies have tests, too.
At least for us its not based on the books he's reading and we don't use a reading curriculum.
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#3 of 28 Old 11-08-2008, 02:25 PM
 
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I would assume that in the next year or so I will know based on the times that she reads readers that have a grade level stamped on the cover.
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#4 of 28 Old 11-08-2008, 03:36 PM
 
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I think they're sometimes just noticing what a child can comfortably read, and they recognize those things as what some 3rd graders around them are reading. At least I always hope that's all it is. Lillian

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#5 of 28 Old 11-08-2008, 06:02 PM
 
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I had an idea based on books and words dd could read on her own. We also did a quick reading assessment which confirmed my idea of where she was at.

http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/articles/060899.htm

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#6 of 28 Old 11-08-2008, 09:57 PM
 
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Okay, okay! So maybe its not MOST homeschoolers do assessment tests- maybe I'm just in the wrong crowd!
Really, I was shocked for quite some time about how many and how often people around here test their kids, and worse, how much they talk about it! Now it all seems normal... you wanna know my kid's scores?
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#7 of 28 Old 11-08-2008, 10:30 PM
 
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In my state the testing is required to be done yearly.
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#8 of 28 Old 11-08-2008, 11:14 PM
 
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Every once in a while if I get curious I just google Accelerated Reader database and plugged in the titles of books my kids were reading easily for enjoyment. For instance, my youngest loves the Boxcar Children books. They're listed in AR databases as having grade level equivalents of 2.9 to about 4.3. So that puts her reading level at about 3rd grade.

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#9 of 28 Old 11-09-2008, 01:00 AM
 
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#10 of 28 Old 11-09-2008, 01:08 AM
 
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I have wondered the same thing.

I do look up some of the ratings on books - because I am curious. My eldest is grade 1. I will assume by the time the fourth is in Grade 1 - I won't be anywhere near concerned with levels.

I do think, though, it is key to say that if a child is reading at a 2.5 level (i.e. 2nd grade) that is the 'average' kiddo in public school. (My kids go to public school - so not bashing it, I love it). I am not sure that average is necessarily an achievement. It is a good benchmark to see if a child is behind that average and thus requires a different approach.

However, suggesting that my Grade 1 child, who easily reads a 2.5 level book means that she reads at a grade 2 level and thus is advance is a bit of a silly assumption. I would expect my bright (not at all gifted), hard working, loves to curl up and read with me to be reading at that level given how she manages her other work.

The levels are fun - but not necessarily reflective of much unless your child is struggling an behind the curve or so substantially way out in front that it requires a different plan..
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#11 of 28 Old 11-09-2008, 01:15 AM
 
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We have required annual testing in our state. Also, because we're in a parent partnership program, they do map (?) testing, which tells what level they're reading at.

When dd was young for required testing, a friend who is a teacher saw what book dd was reading, and asked her a couple of questions and said she was 4th grade level.

I don't really care much about the level, but that's how we know.

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#12 of 28 Old 11-09-2008, 04:53 PM
 
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I have been tracking DS's reading level almost since he started reading. Why? Partly curiosity, to see how he compared to "average" -- not for judgment, but just to see where his strengths lie. If I know he's a "gifted" reader I'll encourage that side of his development. If I know he's a "struggling" reader then I'll relax and not push things but find ways to gently help, perhaps.

I've also used it to track his progress... to see when he's gone through reading plateaus, when he's jumped levels, etc. Again a lot of it is just curiosity, but it's also helpful in seeing how his overall development is progressing.

It's also helpful in finding appropriate reading material. If he's 7 but reading at a 9yo level, I know I can get a "4th grade" book and it won't be beyond him (at least in difficulty, though not always in content!)

I've used the Schonell reading test, which is quick and easy and he gets a kick out of doing it, every 4 months or so, and he's excited when he realizes one of the words he previously couldn't figure out, he now knows. It doesn't give "grade level" but gives "reading age".

I certainly wouldn't obsess about it. And despite my description, I actually don't lol... But I do find it a useful tool.

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#13 of 28 Old 11-09-2008, 05:19 PM
 
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i have used the sonlight reading placement test with my dd before:

http://www.sonlight.com/quick-reading-assessment.html

it seems pretty accurate imo.

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#14 of 28 Old 11-09-2008, 05:27 PM
 
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Just a few thoughts from my own experience... I had no reason to think my son was a natural reader as he was growing up, but I just encouraged his love of literature by reading a lot to him - books we both loved a lot. He would often refer to books to get information out of - I kept a lot of good ones around - but wasn't interested in reading fiction on his own for pleasure - that was something we did together, with me reading aloud. When he had vision therapy at age 12, his own independent reading for pleasure really took off, and he became a voracious reader because he loved what he could find in books. So I guess what I'm getting at is that I think it's all the same - if a child learns through exposure about what books can offer, he'll eventually just take it from there. - Lillian
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#15 of 28 Old 11-09-2008, 06:34 PM
 
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Well . . .the school DD is at (for just 2 more weeks!) tested her in several ways. I've had discussions (on MDC) about this before, and the general consensus was that there really is no absolute level.

I think the estimated level is pretty important in a classroom setting (where a child is working significantly above or below the expectations for that grade), so that the child will be given what he/she needs. In a HS situation, I'd think it is mostly irrelevant, unless one would have concerns about a child (an issue needing pro help).

I think it might be helpful when YOU (not your child) want to select books for him/her, too. http://www.lexile.com/findabook/StudentInfo.aspx

Lillian, my DD needed VT as well, but oddly, her problems (convergence insufficiency and something else I can never remember) seemingly did not affect her reading . . .the optometrist was shocked.

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#16 of 28 Old 11-09-2008, 10:22 PM
 
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At the begining of this year (first formal year) we did the DORA test. cheap, easy, painless and helpful.
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#17 of 28 Old 11-10-2008, 03:36 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Mizelenius View Post
Lillian, my DD needed VT as well, but oddly, her problems (convergence insufficiency and something else I can never remember) seemingly did not affect her reading . . .the optometrist was shocked.
That's interesting! What was it that got you to have her vision checked?

- Lillian
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#18 of 28 Old 11-11-2008, 01:05 AM
 
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That's interesting! What was it that got you to have her vision checked?

- Lillian
She started telling us that she could see through things . . .double vision . . .and that is what prompted us to take her to the doctor.

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#19 of 28 Old 11-11-2008, 01:28 AM
 
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I just guess based on the reading material that my kids are able to read.

Mama to two boys and a girl.
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#20 of 28 Old 11-11-2008, 06:22 PM
 
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A combination of what I see them reading and yearly standardized testing.
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#21 of 28 Old 11-11-2008, 07:20 PM
 
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I google the book he's reading and "reading level" if I'm curious. Or I see what it's rated at www.bookadventure.com. When he started reading 400 page books, it kinda became a moot point, though.

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#22 of 28 Old 11-11-2008, 07:31 PM
 
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She started telling us that she could see through things . . .double vision . . .and that is what prompted us to take her to the doctor.
Wow. But she wasn't seeing double when she read? Or she was and it simply didn't bother her ability to read? In other words, she was seeing double print but was able to somehow focus her attention on just one or both at once? - Lillian
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#23 of 28 Old 11-12-2008, 01:41 AM
 
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I've used the Lexile website to try and get an idea. I also had ds (6) take the DORA test earlier this year. He was all over the map with that one. His spelling, vocabulary, comprehension and phonics skills were somewhere around a 5th grade level but his word recognition (the words he can read but doesn't necessarily know the meaning of) score maxed out at a 12th grade level. Right now he's reading independently and easily through the Narnia books but he still loves to get stacks of picture books and those easy chapter books like The Magic Treehouse at the library.
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#24 of 28 Old 11-12-2008, 01:44 AM
 
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Wow. But she wasn't seeing double when she read? Or she was and it simply didn't bother her ability to read? In other words, she was seeing double print but was able to somehow focus her attention on just one or both at once? - Lillian
I think she must have been able to focus her attention. I think she reads in chunks, too . . .not individual words, so maybe that helps. I really don't know, and I am not sure she is completely better, either.

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#25 of 28 Old 11-12-2008, 03:35 PM
 
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I think she must have been able to focus her attention. I think she reads in chunks, too . . .not individual words, so maybe that helps. I really don't know, and I am not sure she is completely better, either.
Ah! Well, when I was in Parents Active for Vision Education, we went around the first day and told our stories, and a common story people told was that children had been able to read and keep up their grades, but that it had been a lot more work than it should have. One boy during high school had said that he was working so hard that he felt as if he might pass out at times - he was trying to get top grades to go into medical school and become doctors like his parents. That was an extreme story, and he was probably in demanding classes, but it often comes up that a child appears to be reading just fine but is actually working very hard at it. The doctor said that must have been the case with my son - that it must have been a lot more work for him before the vision therapy, even though he could read just fine. Being homeschooled meant he could read what and when he wanted, but it might have been a lot more work if he'd been in school.

To clarify, the fact that they could read "just fine" doesn't mean they they weren't having problems - just that the problems may not have been obvious to an observer. And if a child is having trouble reading, the child himself may not know he's reading differently from the person next to him - he may just think he's not as smart. But it can make for an avoidance of reading, or not being able to fully take in what's being read, or other symptoms that are more subtle. So they're often seen as "lazy" by teachers or parents, because they situation isn't obvious. - Lillian

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#26 of 28 Old 11-12-2008, 04:10 PM
 
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To clarify, the fact that they could read "just fine" doesn't mean they they weren't having problems - just that the problems may not have been obvious to an observer. And if a child is having trouble reading, the child himself may not know he's reading differently from the person next to him - he may just think he's not as smart. But it can make for an avoidance of reading, or not being able to fully take in what's being read, or other symptoms that are more subtle. So they're often seen as "lazy" by teachers or parents, because they situation isn't obvious. - Lillian

- Lillian
That is what has stumped us-- it really did not seem like she was having problems with any aspect of reading. On the contrary-- she tested as reading 4-5 grades ahead. However, within a few months it is now 6-7 grades ahead, so maybe the therapy made a difference.

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#27 of 28 Old 11-12-2008, 04:25 PM
 
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That is what has stumped us-- it really did not seem like she was having problems with any aspect of reading. On the contrary-- she tested as reading 4-5 grades ahead. However, within a few months it is now 6-7 grades ahead, so maybe the therapy made a difference.
Yes! Absolutely! As I mentioned in my article, I was really surprised when my son was suddenly wanting to read thicker books with smaller print - just for pleasure. And then it suddenly occurred to me that we had been going in for therapy once a week for 22 sessions, and well...duh!...what did I think I'd been paying all that money for ? I guess there was a part of me that hadn't really expected results.

And she could probably stand to get more therapy later. My son went in years later and did some work to get his speed up. His comprehension was excellent, and his speed was okay, but he couldn't push the speed into a college level without losing some comprehension. The therapy got him up to speed, though. Lillian
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#28 of 28 Old 11-12-2008, 11:11 PM
 
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Back when I was a classroom teacher, we used a "rule of 5." This might be simpler than what you are looking for, but if all you want to know is if they are on the right level, this works well and empowers the kids. Have them read a page they have not yet previewed to themselves. If they get to 5 words they don't know, it's too hard. If they read it quickly and easily with no mistakes, then it is too easy. "Too hard" or "too easy" books have their place... such as when you are skipping around or want very specific info or are really interested in the topic (good too hard reasons) or if you just want a little brain candy and relaxing time (think "chick lit on the beach" a great excuse for a too easy book!). A "just right" book would have around 2-3 words they don't know.

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