Understanding Reading Levels

Below you will find answers to the following questions:

What Are Reading Levels?

How Is My Child’s Reading Level Found?

How Do I Help My Child Find Appropriate Books?

How Can I Help My Child Grow as a Reader?

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What Are Reading Levels?

Books and comprehension complexity are leveled from top to bottom, so that children are matched to book and instruction that is appropriate for their abilities, and will allow the reader to grow. 

In Novi, we have two systems for reading levels: Guided Reading Levels (GRL) and Accelerated Reader (AR).  GRL are arranged by letters from A-Z.  AR levels are arranged by numbers – 3.0, 3.1, 3.2 etc.  The numbers correlate with the grade level.

Your child will have an instructional GRL and an AR reading range.  You also will find your child’s Lexile level on their NWEA results. 

While every child is different and has their own reading skills and goals, this chart might help you understand how GRL, AR, Lexile scores, and grade levels correlate.

How Is My Child’s Reading Level Found?

Reading levels are assigned to your child based on reading assessments.  In Novi, we have two reading assessments that we use to find your child’s reading level. 

To find your child’s GRL, we use running records.  Running records are an assessment tool teachers use to listen to children read, and then talk to the child about their comprehension of the book.  Teachers use running records formally with the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System.  Teachers also use running records informally with books students are reading.

To find your child’s AR reading range, the STAR Test is administered on a computer.  The STAR Test assesses your child’s vocabulary levels and assigns a reading range based on the words they are able to comprehend.  Vocabulary is a key piece of comprehension.

Your child’s Lexile level is found using the NWEA test, which is administered in the fall and in the spring on a computer.

How Do I Help My Child Pick Appropriate Books

Your child’s reading level is NOT set in stone.  This means that your child SHOULD NOT only read books that are in their GRL or in the AR range.  However, books that are at or near their reading level will be the best books to help your child grow as a reader.  Books that are far below your child’s reading level can still be enjoyable, and that means those books are still wonderful books to read.  Books that are too hard can be a challenge, but sometimes children really want to work through them.  Consider helping your child with those books.

Your child should think about these questions when selecting a book to read:

·         Why do I want to read this book? (reading purpose)

·         Am I interested in reading this book?  Do I want to work through this book?

·         Do I comprehend the story?

·         Do I know and understand most of the words?

o   Use the five finger rule: open to the first page, put five fingers up.  Read.  For each word they don’t know or understand, they put a finger down.  If all fingers are down, then the book is probably too hard.

You can also use this website to find a book’s reading level, find similar books, or to find books by reading level.

How Can I Help My Child to Grow as a Reader?

Use the reading level targets (by GRL) to give ideas for what to talk about with your child when they have read a book.  These targets are arranged by GRL, however you can use your child’s reading targets with books that are not at their level.  These targets are designed to help your child develop deeper comprehension skills.  The GRL targets can be found by Reading Level from A-T on the right. 

The GRL targets were compiled by Michelle Vanston using The Continuum of Literacy Learning (2007) by Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell as well as the Common Core State Standards.