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View Full Version : Finally got a reading level but now what do I do with it!



leezmom
07-12-2011, 10:24 AM
We finally got some of the results of my son's retesting that was completed in June. While his math is above grade level, his reading level has been placed at 5.0 when he is about to enter into 9th grade. I am not shocked by this but it certainly proves that the school was full of $*@! when they said he was on the low end of the normal range. This grade level is for comprehension. His decoding and phonetic awareness are pretty much on grade level as I understand it but knowing *what* he is reading is where we struggle.

My problem is that now that I have this information, I have no idea what to do with it! I don't know if this means we should go back and get a 5th grade reading curriculum or if we should just work on certain skills with more grade appropriate books. :( I have already picked up a vocabulary program to use with him but with my limited amount of work with him already on this, I'm not sure how much is being retained. He has obvious language difficulties and I'm guessing that has something to do with it.

Has anyone else been in a similar situation? Anyone a former/current reading teacher with some more in depth experience in this? I'm taking any useful information and help at this point! I won't even shrug off prayers http://serve.mysmiley.net/happy/happy0032.gif

farrarwilliams
07-12-2011, 02:23 PM
I used to teach middle schoolers who were often below level for reading - especially in comprehension. Really, I know it *sounds* bad, but it could be a lot worse. If he's a rising 9th grader who can read at a 5th grade level, then he can still read and comprehend the majority of middle school level texts, which isn't that far off. Really, when the school told you he was at the low end of average, that may have just been true - knowing what I know about reading in schools, it's easy to imagine that if you took an average school, that an 8th grader reading at a 5th grade level probably would be about in the low average end of the spread. The other good thing is that there are enough high-low books (that's high interest, low level) for his situation that if he's motivated, there's stuff for him to read.

So, does he like to read? Is he motivated to read? If so, what does he read? If he's motivated, I wouldn't personally go with a reading curriculum - I would choose good books and read them with him, slowly working on getting to more difficult stuff. If he isn't... maybe, though I still think good books is the basis of a decent reading program and just reading and talking about books should be the basis for learning. I think mysteries are especially good for kids this age because a mystery has to be structured in a way to give those sorts of plot clues along the way.

The other issue to consider is if you feel like he needs to go back up and do phonics work. If the root of his trouble is that he can't sound out new words and if just guessing at what he's reading based on context, then there are programs to help late phonics learners. Or, it may be an issue of needing a richer vocabulary, or just learning strategies for comprehension. One of the things that I learned working with kids with special needs who had reading issues was that kids who are socially awkward in the real world, transfer those same lack of understandings to reading, especially in fiction. So if a kid who doesn't read social cues very well reads something like "Her eyes narrowed and her face became hard" then *we* can guess the character is suspicious so we're not surprised when, on the next page, she accuses someone. But to someone who doesn't read those cues, it's harder to anticipate what comes next.

Good luck. I hope that's at least a little helpful.

leezmom
07-12-2011, 04:27 PM
farrar,

First off thank you for the perspective on things. I'm not certain I completely agree since the person who did our eval said he was in the bottom 5% of the curve with that reading level. It's a full 4 years behind but maybe I am more optimistic about what the schools really are doing! So scary :(

He likes to read *sometimes*. He is usually pretty compliant so I can get him to read even if he isn't particularly interested in the material - though I'm not sure how much good it does me. He likes to read whatever he is into at that point. Right now, it's superheros, military stuff, and anything space related. He has also been quite interested in knights and dragons but that comes and goes. I'm a huge fantasy fan and his dad a scifi lover so I think he gets those interests honestly!

I think we are good on the phonics work but I know there are vocabulary issues most definitely. I actually didn't think about the context clues you mention being as hard as interpreting them in real life. Feel a little silly actually because it makes perfect sense that it would come no more naturally just because it was written down. I've been working with him doing logic puzzles for "fun" to help him with the thinking ahead to the next thing. It won't help for context clues but I'm hoping it will help for the anticipation of the next logical step.

Thank you SO much for the information. It is very helpful. I need to figure out what books are on that reading level and we'll go from there. There are only two things with homeschooling that have really intimidated from a planning standpoint - this reading and trying to figure out pacing on our Earth/Physical Science course since I have no teacher book. I do feel a little better about the reading portion at least :)

juliehoy
07-14-2011, 09:31 AM
Hi Cheryl.
I am an 8th & 9th grade public school librarian. I see many, many kids in this age group who are ready FAR below their actual grade level. Farrarwilliams is correct in the fact that your son will be able to read most, if not all, middle school textbooks. My suggestion would be to NOT purchase any particular reading curriculum. I would go with just finding good books that he is interested in, as farrarwilliams said. Look into magazines, too! Boys tend to love reading non-fiction and magazines are a great way to tackle their interests! Another thing you might try is manga. It is extremely popular with my kids at school. I can usually get my non-readers to actually start checking out books once they've been introduced to the world of manga! There are so many great series out there now; I'm sure you would be able to find something that he is interested in. If you need any suggestions, please feel free to ask!

leezmom
07-14-2011, 06:26 PM
Thanks for the info juliehoy! I guess I really have had more faith in the school system than I should have - so very sad really. I went to the library in search of a list of books on his reading level. They had the school's accelerated reading lists which had books broken down into grade level. Sadly, it isn't a very informative list and is only organized by reading level, not by subject matter or even fiction vs non-fiction. It was a bit daunting and our library didn't have many of the ones I was familiar with. We did get Where the Red Fern Grows and have started on it. It was one of my absolute favorite books as a child so I was thrilled when I found it was at the right level.

I'm good with pursuing the magazine option but not as much the Manga. My son is already quite obsessed with his video games and has a tendency to lock onto things. For that reason I have tried to steer away from too many things that are serial. I am hoping to break up the obsessions as much as possible. Of course, if we don't get more results soon I will have to bite the bullet and I'll keep those in mind.

Is there any "master list" type of thing that will tell you what grade level or approximate level a given book falls into?

farrarwilliams
07-14-2011, 09:19 PM
Two reading level sites that I've seen often linked (but don't use myself, because I'm such a book know-it-all):
http://www.lexile.com/
http://bookwizard.scholastic.com/tbw/homePage.do

I'm not a huge fan of the lexile levels because I've seen a number of them just be downright wrong in terms of really intangible things about a book. I'm pretty sure it's a computer algorithm that calculates it, so things like emotional content that can make a book harder to understand isn't included. Also, I've seen books with amazing, elegant prose score as easier than I think they actually are. The Scholastic Book Wizard goes by reading level - with reading level, books are rated by grade - so a score like 3.9 means the book is appropriate for a child in the 9th month of 3rd grade. Both are just starting places so don't take either measure as the be all end all of what's the right level.

I'm not much of a fan of Where the Red Fern Grows (sorry!) but there are a lot of other outdoorsy boy books at this level for follow ups if that's his sort of thing - My Side of the Mountain is one that I love, and anything by Gary Paulson falls into that category.

I love graphic novels and what they can do for reading, though I know a lot of parents shy away from them. But I'm just an adult comics lover, so I see them as their own wonderful art form. But I especially wouldn't be too quick to shoot down anything in a series as that's what is often the thing that propels kids to want to read - to get to the next book and the next. That's what builds up a reading habit, and fluency. It's why so many early chapter books have hundreds of titles (like Magic Treehouse, or Boxcar Children) - because reading the same sort of thing over and over helps kids learn to understand plot and build up their reading stamina. There are great older boy series out there. One of the most high interest series I know for this age (and the reading level is not too high) is the Alex Rider books, for example. More fun reading than school reading, but I personally think it's important to have some of that too.

Kylie
07-15-2011, 07:52 AM
I'm sorry to hijack this thread but wondering if anyone has a link to a relatively painless reading test that will give me a reading grade, such as the scholastic site uses and what you mentioned Farrar?

farrarwilliams
07-15-2011, 08:39 AM
This is the wide range reading test:
http://www.donpotter.net/PDF/WIDE%20RANGE%20READING%20TEST.pdf
You stop kids after seven failures in a row - there's simple directions at the bottom.

This site also has a lot of links to other purely phonics based reading tests:
http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Reading/readinggradeleve.html
Note that the site is *very* Christian (it refers to the work of spreading phonics as a "ministry") but the content is basically secular.

My kids did the wide range test, which you can see linked in various formats all over the web. It takes about two minutes. I think it skews pretty easy, especially for the early grades. BalletBoy came out as a 4.6, I think, which is flattering, but honestly, my 6 yo does *not* read at a 4th grade level. I would consider him more like at a high second grade level. But maybe it just demonstrates the range of acceptable reading levels in the early grades.

By the way, the Miller test that is linked on The Phonics Page is supposed to be more accurate. I was just too lazy to read through the much more complicated instructions for giving it.

leezmom
07-15-2011, 11:41 AM
Two reading level sites that I've seen often linked (but don't use myself, because I'm such a book know-it-all):
http://www.lexile.com/
http://bookwizard.scholastic.com/tbw/homePage.do

I'm not a huge fan of the lexile levels because I've seen a number of them just be downright wrong in terms of really intangible things about a book. I'm pretty sure it's a computer algorithm that calculates it, so things like emotional content that can make a book harder to understand isn't included. Also, I've seen books with amazing, elegant prose score as easier than I think they actually are. The Scholastic Book Wizard goes by reading level - with reading level, books are rated by grade - so a score like 3.9 means the book is appropriate for a child in the 9th month of 3rd grade. Both are just starting places so don't take either measure as the be all end all of what's the right level.

I'm not much of a fan of Where the Red Fern Grows (sorry!) but there are a lot of other outdoorsy boy books at this level for follow ups if that's his sort of thing - My Side of the Mountain is one that I love, and anything by Gary Paulson falls into that category.

I love graphic novels and what they can do for reading, though I know a lot of parents shy away from them. But I'm just an adult comics lover, so I see them as their own wonderful art form. But I especially wouldn't be too quick to shoot down anything in a series as that's what is often the thing that propels kids to want to read - to get to the next book and the next. That's what builds up a reading habit, and fluency. It's why so many early chapter books have hundreds of titles (like Magic Treehouse, or Boxcar Children) - because reading the same sort of thing over and over helps kids learn to understand plot and build up their reading stamina. There are great older boy series out there. One of the most high interest series I know for this age (and the reading level is not too high) is the Alex Rider books, for example. More fun reading than school reading, but I personally think it's important to have some of that too.

Thanks for the lists :) I checked out the Scholastic one last night and found some things that may make good options. It's hard when you aren't familiar with the titles so it's going to take some looking! Not such a big deal though thankfully now that I'm not working and dealing with PS crap :)

How can you not like WtRFG?! ;) I'm just kidding, I promise. I'm a very emotional person and extremely sentimental so the things that made me cry, laugh, or dream as a child hold a special place even if I read them later and see that they aren't that good in hindsight.

Let me clarify that we are wholeheartedly geeks in our house so comics aren't an issue of us not thinking they are quality reading. I'm trying to get him away from some particular aspects of his obsessions until I get him to broaden out a little more so I hesitate. I may just need to embrace it and stop trying to make *everything* a lesson in relating to "normal" people but that's really hard to do. I'm very torn about it, frankly.

As for the series aspect, my husband and I are both what I like to call "collectors" and our son shows definite signs of it as well in addition to his usual obsessive tendencies. If I buy a book and like it then I have a compulsion to buy all books by said author or in said series. Same thing with music. It's a burden when you allowed it to become a true compulsion before you realized it or, I should say, admitted it and I hope to save him from that if possible.

I'm not familiar with the Alex Rider books but will be checking them out to see if he might be interested in them. :)

leezmom
07-15-2011, 11:45 AM
I'm sorry to hijack this thread but wondering if anyone has a link to a relatively painless reading test that will give me a reading grade, such as the scholastic site uses and what you mentioned Farrar?

Not a hijack at all! This is certainly for others benefit as well and I am glad to get any such resource to help us going forward. I did find one site that uses DORA to give a reading level but you have to pay per test and I wasn't sure how useful it would be. The site is also trying to sell software to improve reading level so I don't know if it's useful to the average homeschool parent or they will just give you a level in relation to their software.


This is the wide range reading test:
http://www.donpotter.net/PDF/WIDE%20RANGE%20READING%20TEST.pdf
You stop kids after seven failures in a row - there's simple directions at the bottom.

This site also has a lot of links to other purely phonics based reading tests:
http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Reading/readinggradeleve.html
Note that the site is *very* Christian (it refers to the work of spreading phonics as a "ministry") but the content is basically secular.

My kids did the wide range test, which you can see linked in various formats all over the web. It takes about two minutes. I think it skews pretty easy, especially for the early grades. BalletBoy came out as a 4.6, I think, which is flattering, but honestly, my 6 yo does *not* read at a 4th grade level. I would consider him more like at a high second grade level. But maybe it just demonstrates the range of acceptable reading levels in the early grades.

By the way, the Miller test that is linked on The Phonics Page is supposed to be more accurate. I was just too lazy to read through the much more complicated instructions for giving it.

Thanks for the links, farrar!

Busygoddess
07-15-2011, 12:40 PM
Two reading level sites that I've seen often linked (but don't use myself, because I'm such a book know-it-all):
http://www.lexile.com/
http://bookwizard.scholastic.com/tbw/homePage.do

I'm not a huge fan of the lexile levels because I've seen a number of them just be downright wrong in terms of really intangible things about a book. I'm pretty sure it's a computer algorithm that calculates it, so things like emotional content that can make a book harder to understand isn't included. Also, I've seen books with amazing, elegant prose score as easier than I think they actually are. The Scholastic Book Wizard goes by reading level - with reading level, books are rated by grade - so a score like 3.9 means the book is appropriate for a child in the 9th month of 3rd grade. Both are just starting places so don't take either measure as the be all end all of what's the right level.

I'm not much of a fan of Where the Red Fern Grows (sorry!) but there are a lot of other outdoorsy boy books at this level for follow ups if that's his sort of thing - My Side of the Mountain is one that I love, and anything by Gary Paulson falls into that category.

I love graphic novels and what they can do for reading, though I know a lot of parents shy away from them. But I'm just an adult comics lover, so I see them as their own wonderful art form. But I especially wouldn't be too quick to shoot down anything in a series as that's what is often the thing that propels kids to want to read - to get to the next book and the next. That's what builds up a reading habit, and fluency. It's why so many early chapter books have hundreds of titles (like Magic Treehouse, or Boxcar Children) - because reading the same sort of thing over and over helps kids learn to understand plot and build up their reading stamina. There are great older boy series out there. One of the most high interest series I know for this age (and the reading level is not too high) is the Alex Rider books, for example. More fun reading than school reading, but I personally think it's important to have some of that too.

Since you don't like the Lexile levels, is there a leveling method that you think is more accurate? I admit that I'm awful at figuring out book levels, because they are based on the 'average' level of kids in that grade. My kids are so far from average that I've often been surprised at the reading levels of books, because they just seem so wrong, considering what my kids are/were reading in that grade.

farrarwilliams
07-15-2011, 02:47 PM
I guess I think both the Lexile levels and the reading levels that Scholastic uses are fine as long as they're jumping off points and not some rigid rules. I've heard about how now the lexile scores are being so heavily relied on in some public schools that kids are only ALLOWED to read things at certain levels, which is patently absurd, so I think I'm mostly reacting against that. Under that sort of rule, an advanced reader might be allowed to count Twilight (Lexile score 730) but not Of Mice and Men (Lexile score 620). Which is just against all common sense. And that disparity makes me wonder if a book with numerous grammatical errors (ahem, Twilight) actually makes the score skew higher than a book with elegant but simple prose (like Steinbeck), which makes my brain hurt just thinking about it.

leezmom
07-17-2011, 04:31 PM
I've been looking at the Lexile levels and am having a hard time with figuring out where he would fall. The site is a little less than helpful in this regard unless I'm just not finding the right tab to look under. I wanted to take a look at it as I was looking up books on Scholastic and would like to get some more options. Several books that I searched for didn't come up on Scholastic's list at all :(

farrarwilliams
07-17-2011, 08:40 PM
What do you want to find? I *love* to recommend books to kids. :D

leezmom
07-17-2011, 10:41 PM
OK, I asked little man to tell me what books that he had read for school or projects that he had enjoyed. He rarely reads anything aside from video game guides or comics outside of school or things I require him to read or push on him.

His list of things that he really liked include:
1. The Outsiders
2. Diary of Anne Frank
3. Black Holes (non-fiction from the library at school)
4. Shiloh
5. Hatchet
6. Harry Potter series

He is currently reading Where the Red Ferns Grows and seems OK with it but isn't saying much about it other than being excited that there is a movie to see when we are done.

I have also picked up The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and I expect he will like it since it's about ghosts and Sepitmus Heap Magyk by Angie Sage since it is about "wizardy" stuff. These were both on recommendation of a friend. The same friend has suggested Jumping Off the Planet (David Gerrold), A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L'Engle), Red Planet and Have Spacesuit, Will Travel (Heinlein), The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (Terry Pratchett), Only You Can Save Mankind (Pratchett), Watership Down (Richard Adams), The Time Machine (H G Wells), and The Hobbit (J R R Tolkien)

Most of these I am fine with but not sure of what level they are actually on and whether or not they will be a good fit for us at this point or should be shelved for a little while yet. Heinlein and Wells have always struck me as very adult oriented rather than an immature 14 year old.

Thoughts or are you just shaking your head at me? LOL