So, if you read What Kind of Reader is my Child? you will have a understanding of the general terminology about reading development and where your child might be in the process. But what about all those crazy level letters and numbers at the end of each definition? Well, here is some of the basic information and resources that can help you get a handle on that part as well. I am going to toss in an extra one, which I know some local schools are assigning to advanced readers.Which systems you need to pay the most attention to will vary by school. Most schools do use the DRA testing system. However I know that Cheshire, Southington, and Wallingford also use the Fountas & Pinnell Guided Reading Leveling (GRL) system for classroom use. You can use this chart on the Scholastic website to help understand how the levels correspond. You will note that there are even more leveling systems included on the chart, but I am going to focus on the most used systems in our area.
Fountas & Pinnell Guided Reading Leveling system (GRL) starts with level A, being the easiest, and goes up to Z. These levels are based on benchmark assessments or other systematic observations are used to determine the instructional reading level of each student. Our library offers a variety of fiction and non fiction books from level A through G labeled and sorted by level for check out. Feel free to browse the collection or help finding books, but if you would like help, please stop by the children’s desk for assistance.
Developmental Reading Assessment system (DRA) also starts with level A for the easiest books, but switches to numeric levels which run from 1 to 80. A child’s DRA reading level is based on is a standardized reading test. During the test students read a selection (or selections) and then retell what they have read to the examiner. Most of our area schools use this standardized testing system to help gauge reading skills and comprehension, but many combine the information they get from this system with the GRL system.
A Lexile text measure is based on the semantic and syntactic elements of a text. A Lexile reader measure can range from below 200L for emergent readers to above 1600L for advanced readers. This system tends to be the hardest translate from skill level and rating to book recommendations, at least for me. Most of the focus on these numbers come into play after children are fluent readers. For charts that break down which Lexile ratings are average by grade and further details, I highly recommend exploring their website. The site offers a search tool that allows you to find books based on Lexile level and then limit by age and interests so that you can find reading material for just about any fluent reader.
For more information on the stages of reading development and encouraging reading check out: Early Literacy by Joan Brooks McLane, Gillian Dowley McNamee, Straight Talk about Reading: How Parents Can Make a Difference During the Early Years by Susan L. Hall and Louisa C. Moats, Matching Books to Readers: Using Leveled Books in Guided Reading, K-3 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell (reference book that cannot leave the library), The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller, Games With Books: 28 of the Best Children’s Books and How to Use Them to Help your Child Learn by Peggy Kaye, Raising a Reader: Make Your Child a Reader for Life by Paul Kropp, and The Between the Lions Book for Parents: Everything you Need to Know to Help your Child Learn to Read by Linda K. Rath and Louise Kennedy.