Literacy teachers classify a student’s reading level into three categories:
A child’s independent level includes everything (s)he can read accurately and comprehend easily without help, while frustration level includes the texts (s)he struggles to read accurately and comprehend easily. Literacy teachers would classify frustration level as texts a student reads with less than 95% comprehension. Frustration-level reading should be avoided, as it just leads to students attaching negative emotions to reading. You know your student is reading at her frustration level when you start hearing comments such as: “I hate reading!”
If you frequently feel your child or your students are reading books that are too easy, take heart! We should encourage our students to read at their independent level every day, because this is where they build fluency and confidence!
However, to learn new skills and strategies, students must read in that sweet spot – that level that is just above independent, but not quite at frustration. It’s a delicate balance . . . and so often missed in upper grades. Parents want their children reading at grade level, so they give them grade-level books and reading materials. Teachers want them reading at grade level, so they use grade-level materials to try to teach students new skills. But no matter how many books they read and no matter how many times they read the same passage, students who are not reading at grade level are not going to gain new skills by reading numerous grade-level books. If we are going to teach new skills and strategies, we must teach them above a child’s independent reading level and below their frustration level!
So, there’s your insider tip for the day: meet them where they’re at to move them forward! You cannot teach a child to improve his reading skills unless he is working at his instructional reading level. But wait . . . how do you discover a child’s instructional reading level?! If you have tips, please share them in the comments section. Otherwise, stay tuned for the next post . . .