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Advice on reading levels

(8 Posts)
northerngoldilocks Tue 07-Jun-16 20:48:33

DS is in reception. They use ORT (Biff and Chip plus Songbirds plus the non fiction titles). With the exception of some of the initial books with no words, DS has read every title in a stage before moving on. For the past couple of months there have been no words in the books he has brought home that he hasn't been able to read. I had understood that the idea was they could read on average 95% of words in a book - ie 5% would be unfamiliar.

I had a chat with his class teacher to just say that there haven't been any words he's unfamiliar with for a long time (he's on level 4 at the moment) and that at the weekend he read his cousins stage 8 book (again with no help from us other than to say 'try that word again on a couple (literally 2)), so could they have a look to see whether he should move up a level.

Today there was a note in his reading record to say they've had a look but as he's not using all sounds covered by level 4 in his writing they're going to keep him on the current level a little longer. Just wondered if this was the normal approach - ie keeping reading levels static until the writing uses the sounds from that level? I understand that the two are linked but would have thought that most kids could read more than they could write? We can obviously read more widely at home than the books that are sent home and we do this anyway with him, but wondered if the school's approach was normal?

Thanks for any input.

toobreathless Tue 07-Jun-16 22:57:20

DD also in reception and using ORT.

Thstcis not our experience. She is a very able reader and has gone up a book band a week at times. The teacher just moved her up. She is almost a free reader now and brings home a mix of ORT and some books like the lighthouse keeper series where the vocabulary will stretch her but the storyline is age appropriate and she will understand it if that makes sense. We are working on her expression, widening her vocabulary and grammar.

Her writing is much more average and there is no way she could use a lot of what she can read (&understand) in her writing.

catkind Tue 07-Jun-16 23:02:24

There seem to be as many approaches to reading levels as there are teachers! I don't think that one sounds great myself; then I have a DS who is definitely a reader and not a writer so he'd have found it immensely frustrating. I don't think I'd agree with a blanket 95% rule either though; generally as they go up levels I'd expect them to be needing help with words/needing to stop and sound out less, and spending more time on fluency, expression, comprehension skills etc.

We have found that sometimes the reason they're held on a level is really more to do with classroom organization. They do books by reading groups and we don't have a group on that level; we're not reorganizing groups this close to the end of the year; the books at that level are in a different classroom and a nuisance to arrange; even we haven't yet bought books at that level! We have had a couple of examples become blatantly obvious in retrospect, since when I've become more pragmatic and just read what seems to suit DC best, whether that's from school or the library.

northerngoldilocks Tue 07-Jun-16 23:14:51

Thanks both - it just sounds a bit odd. Was thinking back to learning languages at school and it was always the case that it was easier to read words than remember the spelling,. I do understand the school wanting to consolidate their learning, but I'm just not sure of this rationale. Can't help thinking that it may be that the level 5 books are in year 1 but that might be totally off the mark...

PrincessHairyMclary Tue 07-Jun-16 23:25:26

You probably are being fobbed off but just get on with it at home. You can access all of the Oxford Reading tree books for free on the Oxford Owl website so you can move him up a level yourself and just write that in his reading diary as well as his school book.

On going into Year 1 the new teacher moved DD back several book bands without even hearing her read, whether this was to get the children back into the swing of things I don't know but it was frustrating. I just wrote down what we were reading at home and she was soon moved back and skipped several book bands.

BertPuttocks Wed 08-Jun-16 09:47:10

It's not our experience either.

DD is in reception and hasn't had to read every book in each level. She's skipped a few levels when the teacher has thought it appropriate.

The school uses reading as one way of widening the range of vocabulary for the children and an opportunity to practise using their phonics. The hope/expectation is that this will filter down into their writing as they progress.

I've never heard of a child being held back because they weren't using particular sounds in their writing, and my older children are now in their teens.

nonicknameseemsavailable Wed 08-Jun-16 12:46:40

ignore them and do your own thing at home.

I personally do not agree with what they have told you and if he needs more challenge then provide it at home and he will be reassessed in the autumn when he goes up a year.

but then I ignored a lot of school reading stuff and mine are now apparently among the best in their class with reading, comprehension and writing....

Coconut0il Wed 08-Jun-16 14:00:12

I find every school is different. My DS1 never read his ORT book at school, he just put it in a tray when I signed to say he'd finished it and it was changed. He just went through the stages and seemed to move up at random times.
At the school I work at the TAs hear the children read at least once a week. We move the children up if we think they are confident with reading and understanding the level they are on. Parents sometimes ask for more than one book or a higher book for their child to try, we give them this but it makes no difference to the level they are assessed at. We try to make sure their reading book is at a level they can enjoy rather than struggle with.
I would also really promote choosing your own books at home. The range we have in school is not great and there are much better books available. Read your school book but don't worry too much about the level.
I don't agree with keeping children back due to their writing ability though. Reading always comes first.

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