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Is Your Child Reading On Grade Level?
Thursday, May 31, 2007
What Can You Do To Help Your Child?

Is your child reading on grade level? For example, if your child is in the 4th grade, are they able to read and comprehend 4th grade materials and books?

If your child is not reading on grade level, what can you do?

          One of the principle causes of children not reading on grade level is the lack of reading practice. Students do not spend enough time just reading books. As an average, students spend an average of only 7 minutes a day practicing reading outside of instructional time. Reading practice declines markedly after 5th grade. High school students spend even less time practicing reading- only 3 minutes per day. In school, only about 6% of a typical school day is spent reading. Good readers practice reading much more than less able readers. It makes sense: The way to get good at something- whether it's shooting baskets, or reading- is to spend lots of time doing it. We become skilled at the activities we spend time on!

The solution is to spend more time practicing reading. An hour of additional reading practice every day will produce a dramatic increase in reading growth!

Independent readers need to read 60 minutes per day. Students who are learning to read need 30- 50 minutes a day.

For emergent readers, these minutes can be time spent reading to the child and reading with the child. You may need to help your child with difficult text.  Over time, the student reads more and more on his own independently. Large amounts of independent reading develop fluency, comprehension skills, and the ability to think critically.

Students in kindergarten and 1st grade need to be read to at least 30 minutes per day.

Students reading on a 1st grade level need to be read to 15 minutes per day, read with 15 minutes per day, and should read independently 30 minutes per day.

By the end of 2nd grade, read to your child 15 minutes per day, read with your child 5 minutes per day, and let the child read independently 40 minutes per day.

For 3rd graders and up, read to the child 5-15 minutes per day, read with the child 5-15 minutes per day, and let the child read independently 60 minutes per day.

With all the demands on teachers and everything they need to teach and do daily, reading practice time may get squeezed in as time allows or not at all. As a parent, you may need to provide the reading practice time. This can certainly be their daily homework! If they don't have any homework, then by all means make sure they read for 60 minutes at home. This practice can also occur while riding in the car, waiting at the doctor's office, etc.

If you do this every day, you will see your child grow more than one year in reading. Don't let the summer go by, without your child reading. Children that don't read over the summer will regress in their reading ability. Don't forget weekends and holidays!

At Westhills, students reading books and taking Accelerated Reading tests will show growth in reading. Students earning 100 AR points will show more growth than students earning only 25 points in a year. Students maintaining an 80% or higher average in AR will show more growth in reading than students with lower averages. This makes sense. Why? Speeding through a book without really reading it does not allow the student to comprehend what they have read. If they can correctly answer questions about the book, they probably understood what they read!

We enjoy reading when the level is right, when we choose what to read, and when the environment is comfortable. So do students!

To get the most benefit from reading practice, we should pay attention not only to the amount of reading practice time, but also to the level of books being read.  Practicing reading with books that are too hard results in frustration. Practicing with books that are too easy does little to improve skills and leads to boredom.  Students who have taken the STAR test are given a reading range. Students need to read books within that range that is neither too hard nor too easy, and is the level at which optimal learning takes place. Students are reassessed throughout the school year. Reading range levels are adjusted according to those test results.

 As a child progresses and grows in their reading ability, their reading level should increase, the book length should increase, and then they should start reading different genres.

If a student does all this, it is possible to see as much as 2 grade levels of improvement!

Students earning 25 points can show reading gains of 1/3 of a year above normal. Students earning 50 points can show reading gains of 1/2 of a year above normal. Students earning 75 points can show reading gains of a little less than 3/4 of a year above normal. Students earning 100 points can show reading gains of more than 3/4 of a year above normal.

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