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Below reading level, what do I do?

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My son is a 6th grader. He took the DORA test from Let's Go Learn. His reading level is in the 4th and 5th grade range. At the end of his 4th grade year he didn't seem to be improving much with reading so I decided to do an intensive phonics course and use Saxon for 5th grade this year. It's a great course and he has learned phonics very well. The assessment test shows he scored the maximum for phonics. So, essentially, more phonics instruction is not going to help.


What do I do now?


His word recognition was high, 8th grade level. But his comprehension was low at 4th grade. Is this probably the reason for the low reading level score? 


Basically, I am wondering if this information is telling me he can recognize and decode words but he is not comprehending? 



Thanks a bunch :)

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It is not unusual for kids to "read" words that are above what they can comprehend. An example is that after 4 years of high school Spanish manyyears ago, I can "read" Spanish word but I have no idea what it means. Your son has learned the phonics skills to decode words at the 8th grade level, but he has no meaning to go with those words.


In general, what you do to improve on reading comprehension is go back a grade level or two to a reading passage that you know he is capable of reading and focus on comprehension activities. He may need to work on general vocabulary as well.


If this were my child I would look for a short comprehension workbook at the upper end of 3rd grade level and start from there. If he does well then move up to the next level.


How his he with listening comprehension if you are reading to him at a higher level? How are is oral language skill in general? Does he use 8th level vocabulary in his everyday speech, or his his oral vocabulary closer to that 5th grade level?

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I am not sure how to measure his oral vocabulary. My husband and I use high vocabulary when we talk, so he picks up on that. He seems more advanced in oral language skills than his friends, so I think that is all good. 


We use Sonlight as our main curriculum so I read books that are higher level, though I do have to stop and explain and discuss things quite often. I have thought about stopping Sonlight for that reason and it's also the reason we have stopped and started Sonlight in the past, but I think it's good for him and eventually it will work out,


My plans this year for language arts was Michael Clay Thompson, that will probably be good for vocabulary but not sure if that will help with reading comprehension. 


I can make sure we do more of the reading comprehension questions from our Sonlight IG. 


I hate to add more language arts to our curriculum, but maybe I can add in Reading Detective and start at the beginning level which is for 3rd and 4th. 

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I took a look at a sample DORA report and there is a separate score for vocabulary and comprehension Then the comprehension score was broken down into factual and inferential, so if your ds vocab score is high then I would go with the Reading Detective. We used RD Beginner last year for my 4th and 5th grade dc to get my ds (5th) to slow down and pay attention to details. It was well worth it and they learned about sequence, inference, cause and effect, main idea, and so forth. RD has pre and post tests.

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A friend had excellent results having her son (then 7/8th ish) work through all the CLE reading levels from 4th up to his grade level. They are 1/2 year course so it's easy to do them daily and finish 2 a year to catch up. They cover a TON more than "reading" - lots of comprehension, thinking, vocabulary, etc. The scope and sequence on their site is very thorough.

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