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Glorietta Elementary School

Glorietta Elementary School

Guided Reading Levels

Guided Reading Levels
Developed by Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell, the guided reading level system gives a more precise reading level for books. This detailed, alphabetic system has several levels within each grade level. For example, grade 2 is equivalent to guided reading levels J through M. This allows you to tailor your reading program more accurately to a wide range of reading abilities. Each book is carefully evaluated prior to being leveled and teacher input is taken into consideration in the leveling process.

Keep in mind that the leveling system is not meaningful to young readers and may threaten older readers. I don’t mention levels to my second graders, although their reading books are all labeled. If I stress a student’s level, I’ll affect his or her self-esteem.
At any one time, I have students reading on four to six different levels. I teach them to choose just-right books carefully, and to meet their needs, I pre-select books across a range of levels.
What Can I Do if a Book Is Not Leveled?

If you can’t find a level for a book, compare it to similar leveled books. Keep in mind that you will need to assess whether or not a book is developmentally appropriate for a given student or group. For example, just because a young student can read a book about the Holocaust does not mean the subject is appropriate for that student. Another example is a book written in dialect may be difficult for students to comprehend.
As you compare books, consider the following:
  • Vocabulary and word choice
  • Sentence length and complexity
  • The length of the book
  • Subject matter
  • Repetition and predictability
  • Picture support
  • Age appropriateness and Interest level
How Much Do Reading Levels Matter?

Reading levels do matter! Occasionally, students will read beyond their level when they’re motivated by a topic, let it happen although it is important to monitor reading comprehension, word cognition, and sentence fluency. A well-informed teacher will use the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA)  tool to identify the independent reading level for students in grades K–8. Using the DRA numerical scale, teachers can measure reading accuracy, fluency and comprehension. Students are said to be near, at, or above grade level, below grade level, or  significantly below grade level. Once student’s DRA scores are known, then students can be matched to an appropriate reading level. Remember, Leveling Systems is merely a guide!