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Reading age at secondary

(22 Posts)
Snowfire Mon 22-Oct-12 21:00:22

DD is 11 (yr 7) and has been having lots of assessments since starting school. She's always been a good reader and I've always encouraged her to read whatever she's interested in.
She came home a couple of weeks ago buzzing that she has a reading age of 15 years and 10 months! Obviously that's good as it's much higher than her actual age, but it made me wonder what this actually means and how high do reading ages go? they have been told they will receive merits when they're reading improves but I'm thinking that for DD there probably isn't much room for improvement.
The school have recently introduced the accelerated reader scheme and when DD did the test she was told she should read books up to level 12.6 (her ZPD). She didn't have much explaination on this so I looked it up online to see what it meant. I had assumed it refered to reading age but apparently this means she should be reading at the level of an American 12th grade student!! Surely at 11, she can't read the same books as a 17 year old?? I would be worried about inappropriate content! I've been looking on their system and can't make much sense of it so was wondering if anyone had any experience of this system.
DD's english teacher is away at the moment so I can't ask her. I've just told DD to continue reading whatever she wants and not worry about the scheme for now.

lljkk Tue 23-Oct-12 04:17:36

I think reading age tests are notoriously inconsistent & unreliable. Just use your common sense.

Takver Tue 23-Oct-12 09:02:09

"they have been told they will receive merits when they're reading improves but I'm thinking that for DD there probably isn't much room for improvement. "

I imagine that the school will use these tests to give her suitable books to develop her reading skills.

Just thinking back to my school days & what the English teachers gave to keen readers maybe they might encourage her to start trying classics like Jane Austen, Thackeray etc, or content appropriate modern adult literature?

tiggytape Tue 23-Oct-12 09:19:10

As Takver says, there are many books that require a higher reading ability but without necessarily having overtly adult themes.

As an example DD (a bit younger and still at primary school) has been reading Wind in the Willows for the past few weeks. I hadn't looked at it in years and had forgotten how complex some of the vocab is. The story is very much child-friendly of course but it has words like languorous and countenance and complex sentence structures too. I remember Tolkien being quite like that as well and even things like Charles Dickens where the adult themes of his times aren't quite as graphic compared say to some modern teen fiction.

Now the school know I am sure they will have lots of ideas as to what she could be reading. Just because her reading age is 16 doesn't mean they'll let her access unsuitable books but they'll be able to move her on with more challenging material.

propatria Tue 23-Oct-12 09:32:07

She should have been given the first part of the zpd not just the second ,the 12 is the top figure,there will also be a lower figure ,that gives her the range of books,she should really start reading at the bottom of the range,but the school should be telling her how many points she needs to get a term,week or whatever.
Books are graded on interest -lower,middle or upper years,

GrimmaTheNome Tue 23-Oct-12 09:42:02

High reading ages obviously don't mean that a child should read books with too-old themes, even if they could read it. You get primary age kids with 'reading ages' of 16.

I would imagine her teacher will be looking for her to be reading more challenging but age-appropriate books and assess her understanding of them, not that she can just plough through the words.

>I've just told DD to continue reading whatever she wants and not worry about the scheme for now.

Until/unless you receive further guidance, that sounds right - the main thing with reading is to enjoy it. smile

coppertop Tue 23-Oct-12 10:40:52

Our school library uses a system where children need permission from a parent before they can borrow books written for older pupils.

Books from the green section can be borrowed by anyone.

Books from the orange section are for 14+ unless a parent has given written permission for a Yr7 or Yr8 child.

Red are for 16+ unless written permission has been given for a child of 14 or over. Under-14s aren't allowed to borrow these at all.

I would be very surprised if a school allowed an 11yr-old to read books for an older teenager tbh.

Blu Tue 23-Oct-12 13:24:02

Her reading age reflects her technical ability to read big words, read fluently and understand meaning and then articulate meaning. It doesn't mean she has to fast track to the racy bits of Lady Chatterley.

Just keep supporting her to read what she is interested in. And talk to her, ask her questions about the books, get her to explain the story to you, describe the characters, talk about any particular writing styles. Just in conversation, not like a test.

prettydaisies Tue 23-Oct-12 14:14:43

My daughter's school uses accelerated reader and all the books in the library are colour coded appropriately. However, there are separate shelves of books for children who are in Y10 and 11 to read (no sixth form) and the younger ones aren't allowed to choose them.

pointyfangs Tue 23-Oct-12 19:06:05

There are a lot of books which were written for adults which would be fine for a very able 11yo. DD1 had a similar test in Yr5 and came out with a reading age of 15 Yrs 10 months at age almost 10 - there was no pressure on her to read misery lit or All Quiet on the Western Front. She read Inkheart, the Abhorsen trilogy, several other things along that line. Right now she is reading LOTR, and wants to read the His Dark Materials series next. She also reads lighter stuff - Percy Jackson and so on.

In general a lot of older or classic children's literature does have challenging vocabulary and is worth a look - DD2 is reading Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising sequence and loving it. As long as your DD maintains her love of reading and makes progress, it isn't worth worrying about reading test scores.

Madmog Tue 23-Oct-12 19:45:56

My daughter's school has a long list of suggested reads for each keystage on their website under English Lit so might be worth searching for that. I suspect most of them are in their school library as my daughter just happened to bring one home. Not sure what her reading age is now, but at eight it was age 12 and she is now 11, but she enjoyed the book she chose. The main thing is they are reading, enjoying and understanding it.

roisin Tue 23-Oct-12 20:43:59

You are correct that most reading age tests only go up to age 16, so there isn't much scope for her to "improve". Having said that it's not very unusual for a student to have such a high reading age, (some can test at this level at age 7 or 8). But it is a skill that will stand her in good stead.

AR does encourage more able readers to continue reading, rather than just "give up because they've got to secondary". Her ZPD range is probably 5.0-12.6 or something? I would just encourage her to read anything within that range that she likes the look of.

We use AR at the school I work with, so feel free to ask any questions you want. We don't set a levels target beyond 6.0 because there are a limited number of books at the higher levels - unless she's ready to tackled books published 50+ years ago.

The issue nowadays is an author will write a fantastic novel, but the publishers won't print it until it's been edited, and among other things they want to bring "mass market" young teen books in at a lower reading age - equivalent to say L5 in AR terms. A few books slip through: the Harry Potters are mostly L6s I think.

Because of this, I wouldn't want to restrict students' access to some of the fantastic contemporary publishing.

vj32 Tue 23-Oct-12 21:22:28

Agree with roisin - her ZPD will be a range so she doesn't have to read at the top of it!

Levels are not about content, they are set based on vocabulary, complexity and length of sentences etc. There will be lots of age appropriate books for your DD to read. Some examples:

Mortal Engines 6.6 (first of series)
The Golden Compass 6.2 (first of series)
Harry Potter series - high 6/low 7
Jane Eyre 7.9
Plus lots of pink sparkly 'girly' books (I haven't read any of those yet, should get round to it at some point.)

She could read some non fiction - the horrible histories and horrible sciences series are on AR and are high levels.

You don't have to rely on what she can get from the school library either - you can check if books are on AR on their website so she can read anything. You can also search for titles on the website at the correct level - they have different 'interest levels' so if you select MY or middle years it should be appropriate. So you could choose a selection of books with your daughter and then she could take the list to the school library or the local library and see if they have any of them in stock if you are worried about her choosing something not appropriate for her.

About the reading age - she will have done a multiple choice test, where you have to choose the correct word to complete the sentence. It adapts to the user and takes about ten minutes. Its clever and does suggest she is an advanced reader for her age, but I don't think there is really any meaning in reading ages. So she has the age of an average 15 year old? Where exactly is that 'average' 15 year old?

roisin Tue 23-Oct-12 21:30:15

This is the website where you can check the details of any book.

You can search and see whether it's on AR, what level it is, how many words, and also an "interest level" rating, which gives you an idea what age ranges it's suitable for.

Startailoforangeandgold Tue 23-Oct-12 22:24:18

Unless of course your DD is a librarian who simply wanders off with books out of the sixth form only section.

Not complaining as DD1 is dyslexic and only learnt to read just before her KS2 SATs.

By 13 she had a reading age of 16 and a spelling age of 9.

Actually her reading is still horribly inaccurate, but the test was a comprehension. Somehow DD gets the meaning of text in her head even when the words come out wrong.

Startailoforangeandgold Tue 23-Oct-12 22:38:50

As for her sister, I don't think anyone's ever bothered testing.
She's read more accurately than me since she was 9envy

Snowfire Tue 23-Oct-12 22:48:32

Thanks for all your input everyone, that's really helpful!

I asked DD again about her ZPD and you're right roisin, it is 5-12.6.
I've just been looking on that website and the book she's reading now (Spirit walker, by Michelle Paver) is only level 4.8 so I suppose she wouldn't be able to count that. She's really enjoying it and she's reading the series (I think 5 books) so I suppose she'll have to start the scheme once she's finished them. I won't let that worry me though, as long as she's reading and enjoying what she reads.

Thanks for the recommendations vj32, she's read all the Harry Potters and tried Philip Pullman's books but wasn't keen. She wouldn't be seen dead reading anything pink or sparkly grin but has really enjoyed Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy and some Terry Pratchet books so might steer her in that direction again.

I was wondering about the Bill Bryson books? I know they have some pretty adult language in them but don't think they have anything too horrific in them (references to abuse, drugs, sex...). Although I haven't read any in ages, I thought his sense of humour and views on the world would appeal to DD. I can't find any of his work in the AR system so does this mean it's not allowed?

roisin Wed 24-Oct-12 16:56:03

She can still quiz on Spirit Walker and the other Michelle Paver books when she's finished and will earn AR points and rack up a "wordcount" for those titles :-)

I agree completely that the main thing is that she is reading and is enjoying what she reads. My son is also a keen reader with a high reading age, but he loved those Michelle Paver books too. We don't need to be too prescriptive about what they read.

The interesting thing to note is that the Paver books (and similar) will not be particularly stretching her reading ability and expanding her vocabulary. (But I certainly wouldn't say don't read them.)

You are correct that there are no Bill Bryson books on the scheme. There are thousands of books on the scheme, but they are mainly books aimed at children or teenagers, or classics, or adult books with a specific appeal to children/teenagers. So Terry Pratchett books are on there, Jasper Fforde books are not.

vj32 Wed 24-Oct-12 20:52:34

Pratchett is a good idea. I read Nation recently and that was really good - and quite different from the Diskworld books, but still funny. (We have nearly all the TP books at home - they are about the only fiction and non-sport related books that DH has ever read!)

I find it a bit depressing that everything aimed at teens now has to be a series - and some of them are quite artificially continued as a series. (Hunger Games as an example.) I think we need to encourage more breadth and variety of reading as well as just more reading.

Startailoforangeandgold Wed 24-Oct-12 22:42:45

I really enjoyed James Herriot's vet books at about 12.
Also Agatha Christy and Sherlock Holmes (short stories most).

People always recommend my family and other animals, but I don't think I finished it.
I'm also a huge hitch hiker fan.

My other reading as a teen was Dick Francis, Desmond Bagly and other thrillers pinched off my mum.
I'd read them first, some are way more grown up and darker than others.

Startailoforangeandgold Wed 24-Oct-12 22:44:33

Oh and Percy Jackson and the red pyramid series by Rick Roidan (?)

Startailoforangeandgold Wed 24-Oct-12 22:47:37

Not that I have any idea what AR reading scheme is.
DDs would say Twilight and DD2 is into pink sparkly shit. Which I think is doubly shit because a lot of it seems really miserable under the sparkles.

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