Checking Reading Levels

It is testing time! Fall, winter, and spring are great times to check reading progress.

In the fall, we get a baseline (where the student is functioning) for the beginning of the school year.

gif_snowflake001_bwIn winter, we get to see if all that great teaching we are doing is working and the kids are making good progress! If insufficient progress is being made, we need to reevaluate our teaching strategies, look to increase support, and possibly add a supplemental program.

In the spring, we get a snapshot of the year’s growth.

I have had some questions lately about frustration, instructional, and independent reading levels. Here is a guide to understanding the levels:

  • Independent: 95% success (no more than 1 in 20 words difficult)
  • Instructional: 90% success (1 in 10 words difficult)
  • Frustration: <90% success (more than 1 in 10 words difficult)

Teach at the instructional level, but have students pick books from the library at the independent level. (See my post on Lexile numbers for picking the right level.)

Parents, if you do not know your child’s reading level, get this from his/her teacher!

Understanding Accommodations and Modifications

Students can receive accommodations and/or modifications in school. In America, most students who receive them are either on a 504 Plan (usually related to medical and/or ADHD) or on an IEP (Individualized Education Program).

It is important to understand what these terms mean, and what you are asking for/receiving when your student or child is receiving accommodations or modifications. The major difference between the two is:


  • There is NO fundamental change to the curriculum.


  • These DO alter or lower the curriculum to meet the student’s needs.

Accommodations and modifications can deal with: teaching strategies, testing presentation, location, timing (often extended time), type of response, adjustments to work load, environment, etc.

Examples of accommodations during state testing are: oral presentation (when not testing reading), small group setting, extended time, large print. An example of a modification would be taking an alternate test.

I hope this helps!