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Reading Levels - how are they assessed?

(9 Posts)
MarvellousCake Thu 07-May-15 12:03:21

My DD is in reception and is very confident. She has been on Blue band books for a while and reads them fluently and with expression. This week, the teacher has assessed everyone and recommended that she try a Green book. We were told that actually if these were still very easy, she might well jump straight to Orange.

So she brought home her trial Green book, but it turns out she accidentally had picked up a Turquoise. She read the whole thing very well, with only two words which caused her to stop and sound out. And she clearly understood and enjoyed the story.

Which lead me to wonder, on what basis do teachers assess the correct book band? Are there particular skills which result in a 'pass' at each level? Is there any downside to jumping to a higher level, provided that it is not too challenging? Similarly are there any downsides (apart from possible lack of interest) in remaining on lower levels for a longer period of time?

I'm not overly pushy, by the way. She enjoys reading, and I want to make sure we try to keep it that way!

DiamondAge Thu 07-May-15 12:58:22

There are lots of ways unfortunately, so you will need to ask your DD's teacher if you want to know specifically how her school assess reading.

For example some schools use tools such as PM Benchmark and may be happy to jump book bands.

Other schools insist that a child reads every book in the scheme with little regard to their individual progress.

From what you've said your DD's school don't do this and therefore they may be happy to move her up. If you put a note in her reading record explaining how much she enjoyed reading the book and that she retained both expression and comprehension then her teacher may be happy to double check herself and move her up.

If not you can just go 'off-piste' and supplement her with other books. Oxford Owl have free e-books, which are all book banded for example - see here.

Another option is to choose non-scheme books - for example see here. Don't worry about the colour scheme / stages as it's based on the old Oxford Reading Tree / Stages. The amount of sentences per page should give you a good enough guide.


redskybynight Thu 07-May-15 13:05:58

Not a huge difference between Green/Orange/Turquoise IIRC.

There is a huge variation in books in the same book band, so just because your DD can read one book well, doesn't mean she will manage every book IYSWIM.

Moving up book bands is not just about being able to decipher all the words, there are objectives the children are expected to meet at each stage. As you progress up the bands the child has to understand how language is used, draw inferences, be able to summarise what has happened etc.

Have a look at something like this

though your school may well use its own criteria

TheWanderingUterus Thu 07-May-15 13:10:58

DS is on turquoise atm. We have found that some of them (and the levels before) he can zip through, other books have sounds, words and concepts that he has struggled with.

The extra practice has helped reinforce and retain words that he had grasped but weren't entirely fixed in his head.

MarvellousCake Thu 07-May-15 13:41:58

Thanks redsky that was exactly the sort of thing I was wondering about. We have subsequently had a green book after returning the turquoise one, but I think I might see about trialling an orange next week, if the teacher is happy for her to do so (which they have already indicated they would be).

MarvellousCake Thu 07-May-15 13:42:39

(Oh and thanks other posters too! It's all very helpful!).

Mandzi34 Thu 07-May-15 18:07:40

A lot of it relates to comprehension skills. DS has always been a good mechanical reader but didn't always understand what he was reading when questioned. This materialised when he ended up national average in the Year 2 Sats when most of the class were above average or considerably above average. The teacher had him in their second highest reading group as they didn't pick up on this until the assessment. He's a summer baby (August) so it made sense to me.

Hulababy Thu 07-May-15 18:12:18

We have the PM Benchmarking set but don't rely on that to level a child. Other things come into play - the teacher and/or TA listen to children regularly, do regular comprehension activities, consider phonics knowledge and ability to use, etc. We will move a child up (or sometimes down) accordingly. We are happy to skip levels/bands where appropriate.

But it isn't just about being able to say the words on the page.

mrz Thu 07-May-15 18:24:04

The coloured book banding system doesn't match the new curriculum expectation unfortunately so should be view with caution.
As said once children are reading/decoding the text accurately comprehension is the main focus.

Schools use a variety of different assessments so there isn't a simple answer you your question OP.

We would look to see if the child can read an appropriate book and display the necessary skills for that stage - accurate decoding, retrieving direct information from what they read, being able to read between the line, ability to analyse and explore texts.
The school may also use a reading test.

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