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Reading Level Assessments Explained

If you have a young reader in your house, you may have heard different terms like Lexile, Developmental Reading Assessment, Accelerated Reader, and others. These terms and more are used to determine the reading levels of books.


But what exactly do they mean? How do we know that if a child can read a book on one level they can also independently tackle another level? The different reading levels can quickly become overwhelming, but don’t worry! We’ve got you covered.


Generally, teachers will perform several reading assessments with students over the course of the school year. These assessments determine their reading level which will help guide their choices when selecting books.


Typically, these reading levels are also used to categorize books in school libraries; therefore, the child can easily select books for themselves from that particular section. It’s important to understand that these assessments aren’t meant to restrict your child, but to determine the best way to help them progress as a reader.


Always encourage your child to read books on their level and to try more advanced titles. Stretching their comprehension skills will help them progress through the different levels.


There are a number of different ways that books are assessed. Here are some of the most popular methods and their explanations.

Common Reading Level Assessments

Accelerated Reader (AR) ATOS Level: AR is a computer program that helps teachers manage a student’s independent reading practice. The child picks a book read at their own pace. When finished reading, the student takes a comprehension quiz on the computer and receives points and feedback based on the quiz results.


Children select their own books to read instead of having one assigned to them, which gives them a sense of control and makes reading a more enjoyable experience.


F&P Text Level Gradient: Fountas and Pinnell Reading Levels are not solely based on the child’s skill levels. Instead, books are classified according to various factors such as word count, number of different words, high-frequency words, sentence length and complexity, word repetitions, illustration support, etc.


While students tend to have a wide range of reading comprehension skills at a young age, each reading level is associated with the school grade level in which the child belongs.


For example, kindergarten students read books on the A, B, C, or D levels; first-grade students read on E-J levels, and so on.


Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA): With DRA, each student’s reading level is based on an evaluation of three components: reading engagement, oral reading fluency, and comprehension.


The assessment is a combination of oral retelling, written comprehension responses, and overall student engagement. Once complete, teachers use the DRA Continuum to assess each student and select learning activities according to their skill set.


The Lexile Framework: The Lexile Framework is a popular system used to measure a student’s reading ability and level books on text complexity. When measuring both of these components, educators can “forecast” the success the reader will have with that book.


Even across the different level assessments, it’s important to note these indicators are meant to help your child – not restrict them. If you have any questions about how your child’s reading levels can be improved or wish to learn more about our program, reach out to us at info@kidsreadnow.org.


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