Thanks so much for visiting HipWriterMama, my blog about children's books, authors and readergirlz!

It's time for a change. I've decided to focus my attention on my writing blog, www.vivianleemahoney.com. Hope to see you there!


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Guess How Many Reading Levels There Are?

Franki from A Year of Reading generously offered some advice in response to my post on my frustration searching for appropriate early reader books based on the level system. Franki is one cool lady.

This leveling system is so frustrating. I feel like a bad mom if I venture outside my child's level and help her read a book that's a bit advanced for her. It's also frustrating because there is no standard, at least not that I'm aware of, in the publishing industry on rating the books. I'm told by the school I need to find a book rated one way, and it is difficult finding that same rating in the libraries and bookstores. After cybertalking with Franki, I was inspired and started Googling.

Guess how many reading level standards there are around the United States? Find out the answer here: Reading Levels of Children's Books: How Can You Tell? Can you believe this?

I found a couple of school systems that have easy to use databases to find an appropriate book based on reading level. Unfortunately, I don't live in one of those states. But, I can use the Beaverton, MI public school system's leveled books database, since it is based on the DRA testing score my child's school uses. This database allows the user to search for books needed in the target reading levels. There is also a chart for benchmark target reading levels based on grade leveled by the DRA and Lexile standard testing scores. The California Department of Education also has a reading list database available for residents to find books. If you're not lucky enough to live in Beaverton, Michigan or the state of California, check out your town and state website. Maybe you'll find an easier system of finding the appropriate level book for your child.

Here is another database for books based on the Fountas and Pinnell system. If your child is tested on the Lexile standard, here is their database to locate books.

Scholastic, Inc. has an article on understanding leveled reading and a reading level chart based on the Guided Reading Level, DRA and Lexile testing system. Their reading chart is similar to the Beaverton, MI public school benchmark target reading levels chart, but if you put them side to side, you'll notice Scholastic shows more leniency in reading level in the earlier grades.

After you do all this research, or before if you have a cowboy mindset, go and read Franki's article over at The Edge of the Forest to decide just how much you want to be pulling out your hair over leveled reading.


Franki said...

Wow! You did quite a bit of research!! Very interesting. I think an idea that started out as a good way to help kids find "just right" books has gone totally crazy!
Thanks for the shout out and thanks for all of these links:-)

Liz said...

This really resonates with me, Vivian. Between trying to find the right level for daughter #1 and the right level for daughter #2, and then having to consider Accelerated Reading Levels for our own books, something (pleasure? passion? intuition?) really gets lost in the shuffle!

HipWriterMama said...

Thanks again with your advice on this one. Loved your great article in The Edge of the Forest.

I agree. It is rather painful finding the right level books for child #1 and #2. Hopefully all this initial stress on our parts will soon be forgotten as the children indulge in their love of books.

Kat said...

WOW! I'm floored that a parent even cares about this, and went to the extent that you did to even read blogs about your daughter's learning needs. Kudos, impressive.

That's parent involvement.

I am sharing your frustration right now. I teach 9th grade special education, and would like to implement a smooth block of reading and writing instruction for my students who are reading between a 1-4th grade level.

I tried to implement The Daily Five this year, and I've obsessive-compulsively created a leveled library with my assistant in a classroom that had no leveled texts this year.

I too have been pulling my hair out leveling books and finding reading material for each of my six students at his/her SPECIFIC reading level. Since I do not have the elementary reading training that I would need to be a better judge of this, I turned to the net to search as well. I found the Beaverton site and others like you did.

Doesn't help as much as you'd like though, right? The going to the library point you made is dead-on, I mean are you supposed to take every list in the world with you and squash your daughter's enthusiasm when she sees a book she's interested in, snapping at her "it's not at your DRA level! ahhhh"

The madness.

One site I did want to share with you was the Scholastic Book Wizard You may know of it already but it's an easy to use site. Type in an author or title and choose which criteria you want it to show you (lexile level, grade "equivalent"...whatever that will tell you!, and then the DRA or guided reading level) Sometimes it works, and sometimes books will only be listed with that dreaded gr. equivalent. I know that barely tells you anything, because your daughter may be reading above or below her grade level. It's just another source to add to your frustration, or take it away.

Thought I'd let you know!

Thanks for caring...makes this teacher feel a little more sane and purposeful.