I'm actually not even a teacher yet, but I'm getting very close! Teaching reading when there are different reading levels in your class is an issue that has been grabbing my attention lately. What are some effective ways any of you have found to at least somewhat accurately gauge a student's reading level? I still hate the idea of tests for such a thing, but do they work? Any other ways that are more effective?

Tags: English, Reading

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Thanks for the posted link!
There are many ways out there to find a student's reading level. I know I've come across even more since starting to take Reading Education classes for my Masters. It all depends on the level that you are teaching. A basic running record could work, for texts that you know are on grade level, especially if your school doesn't have a specific program. My school (elementary) uses DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment), but I've also used Accelerated Reader and QRI. All of them have their advantages and disadvantages. You just have to try it and decide if you like it.
For our district, we have had set programs set in place. We started with DRA many years ago and then we moved to DIBELS in 2005. Both were helpful for me as a teacher. I offered me a starting point to begin my centers and guided reading groups. Thanks for the feedback!
Our school uses a couple of different assessments to help determine reading level. The best and most accurate I have found is STAR tests. It comes from the same people who do Accelerated Reader. It is a computer based assessment that takes less than ten minutes, and has proved to be very accurate. It's not perfect, but I doubt anything is.

We also use the BLT (Basic Literacy Test). This is a fairly complex and very involved test, especially for first graders which is what I teach. This test, in my opinion, is not as accurate and a lot more subjective than the STAR test.

In the end the best way to determine your students reading level is to just spend one-on-one time with them at the beginning of the year letting them read to you. Determining how many Dolch words they know can help you determine where to begin.
I am glad to hear the Dolch words mentioned. I used a lot of activities using those basic words including spelling assignments, and especially Dolch Word Bingo. Back then, of course, I had to hand write each bingo "card" and make sure that the words were sufficiently mixed up. Now, of course, I can use an exel worksheet to make as many of these "cards" as I need using the random number on excel to perfectly scramble the words each time.
There is also a great website that randomly generates worksheets like bingo and wordsearch using the Dolch words. www.mrsperkins.com
Thanks for the link! I appreciate it!
Thanks for the additional answers! It appears that not only are the states using different testing routines, but districts in each state are using different routes as well. It is nice to see the various answers about this topic!
In our district most schools use guided reading resources and techniques to develop reading skills in our elementary students. For assessing their reading we use the DRA (developmental Reading Assessment) but are more and more moving over to the Fountas and Pinelle assessment kit.

For middle-level and above, I echo what the previous posters said, it is all about giving students some choice in what to read, and about having them read for you one on one.

Cheers
I actually liked the results of DRA testing. After I tested a child, I had a pretty good idea at that moment, where I would place them. The combination of testing guided me in a way in which I felt confident about the child's level. Thanks for the input.
Has anyone explored having the child record themselves reading a book, having the child listen to it along with the teacher, and discuss and pause points along the way? I am thinking about the itouches or ipods and how they can be used to help fluency and comprehension. Thoughts?
Lisa,

This was done back in the days when us greysters were using Direct Access. Having a child who is fluent but does not comprehend, record themselves reading the story and then listening to gain the comprehension is quite effective. Fluency is a bogus goal in reading, quite alright if it happens, but otherwise irrelevent. The purpose of reading is comprehension.

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