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Question about Accelerated Reader program

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ETA: I realized that this question is not really about the accelerated read program as much as it is about reading levels/book levels.


I was looking up books that we have to see if they are listed. More to gauge what books my DD could read at home that will be about the right level.


I understand the Book Level information 1.0 is first grade at the beginning and 1.1 is first grade and 1 month. My questions are: Especially for young readers (K, 1, 2) is this book level fairly accurate? On average, can most starting first graders read 1.0 books. If a child was not reading at that level how big of an issue is it? For example, if a new 2nd grader was reading 1.4 comfortably and struggling with anything higher, would that be a serious concern or a minor concern? When kids are learning to read is there more variation than say in the higher grades?


I really appreciated reading the old thread about accelerated readers, so I'm hoping some of the same people will chime in.



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Its not so much that there is more variation when they start to read. Its that reading independently is such a huge milestone that is a black and white difference in what the child can do.


I have a first grader who is reading independently. She hasn't started school this year yet but I can tell you where they were at the end of K because I helped with reading groups. My daughter was reading at about a 3rd grade level. This is unusual but there will probably be at least one or two like this in any given class. There were about 6 kids who could read at a solid middle of first grade level, in my opinion. To me that means they can read early reader books independently with occasional help with a word. There were about 6 who could read CVC words quite well and were on their way to learning to read. There were 6 who were just not getting it as far as reading. They knew all their letters and maybe knew their letter sounds but some needed to be asked in a predictable way. Some of these kids knew little to no English when entering K and some just really weren't engaged. I think several just weren't at that developmental stage yet.


With my older son, during the course of the first grade and second grade year several students were identified that were pulled out for additional reading instruction. They also had an afterschool reading club that helped give these kids even more reading time. So definitely being below grade level is something that triggers additional instruction. But I don't know how far below level is where they start to step it up.


In third grade my son's class had a huge variation too. But all the kids could read so there was less visible difference in a child reading at an 8th grade level and a child reading at a 2nd grade level.

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I think they learn like they grow, sometimes slow and steady and sometimes a big spurt. I have noticed though that teachers don't always catch the big spurts very quickly, especially if they are already in the top reading group. I always make sure my kids are reading what I think is appropriate at home and if they are ahead then I send reading material to school too in cases where there is nothing appropriate in the classroom.

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Another thing to keep in mind about AR books and level is the length of the book. My son (almost 6, in 1st grade) recently read a book called "Thomas Jefferson's Feast" that was a 3.1 and did fine. A few nights later he read "A Fly Went By" which is a 1.9 and was dragging because it was long. The words weren't hard for him, he just got tired of reading.

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The level is a guideline that works for the "average" child.

For both my kids the AR level determined at school never had anything to do with the grade level they were in.

DD was reading level 3 and 4 in Spring of her kindergarten year.

When she got tested for reading in 4th grade, the test result indicated she was reading on 11th grade level. That clearly does not mean, a 10 y/o should be reading all highschool literature.

OTOH, there were kids in her class struggling with 2nd grade level books.


It can be beneficial (and FUN) for a child to read at an easier level for a longer time. It can be good to read the occasional harder book.

However, one of the worst things in ps was kids being told they could not read a certain book "because it was not in their level". What a way to turn kids off reading.

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The AR levels for some of the early books may be deceptive for a child taught with phonics, they are based on sight words, not a phonics progression, so a 3rd grade book written without a lot of specially added sight words may actually be easier for a child taught with phonics than a 1.2 level book that was specifically written with a list of sight words.


After a bit of practice, you can spot the sight word books and weed them out in favor of real books.

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