Why a Reading Level Assessment is an Important Tool

April 7, 2023

Reading Level Assessment

Parents can’t help their child become a better reader if they don’t know their child’s level of reading proficiency. How far behind does the child lag relative to their peers? Parents might not have the resources to understand the benchmark reading level for their child’s grade level.

As children progress through the school year, the expectation is that their reading ability also will progress. Reading with a child can help parents understand if their child is struggling, but those one-on-one sessions don’t provide the necessary data to or understand a child’s grade-level proficiency. A reading level assessment is an important tool for helping children gain proficiency because it helps parents assess their child’s:

  • Comprehension ability
  • Percentage rank (how they score in relation to other students in their grade)
  • Reading growth
  • Lexile and reading level

Reading Level Assessment

Do School Districts Utilize an Oral Reading Fluency Assessment?

Star Reading is a popular reading assessment used by school districts. This is a computer-based assessment that requires children to read quietly and answer questions that gauge comprehension. Do schools test children via oral fluency assessments?

Reading tests vary by district or by school. Some utilize an oral test called the Benchmark Assessment System (BAS for short) by Fountas and Pinnell. This reading assessment requires children to read aloud to a teacher. It is an individualized assessment, and there might be fewer concerns related to a child’s attentiveness.  

Parents could request this assessment if they are concerned about their child’s scores related to computer-based tests. Since BAS is one-on-one, teachers can zero in on a child’s fluency or any issues related to comprehension.

Reading Level Assessment

What are Informal Reading Assessments?

Some types of reading tests also could be considered informal reading assessments. An informal assessment might be any reading test that isn’t among the standardized tests used to measure reading progress. For example, Star Reading, BAS and even statewide achievement tests are ‘formal’ tests.

An informal test could include reading programs like Accelerated Reader (AR) or Raz-Kids that offer comprehension tests related to books that children read. These tests can help teachers gauge reading ability and comprehension, but they might not be considered formal approaches to testing. Instead, these tests might be better at helping teachers understand if the child is reading regularly and if they are processing what they read.

Informal reading tests might help teachers understand if children are choosing books that are too difficult. Teachers also might realize that to earn AR points, children are reading books that aren’t challenging for them.

How an Assessment for Reading Instruction Helps Parents Find Solutions to Help Their Child

Formal reading assessments administered by schools gather important reading data on each student. This data is often collated into a report and sent home to parents. Star Reading is a popular assessment that’s used by many districts across the country; a Star Reading report could include the following data points:

  • Reading level
  • Percentile rank
  • Reading growth
  • Intervention status

Star Reading reports the reading level as “1.5” or similar numbers; the score denotes the grade level and the month of the school year. A reading level of 1.5 would be read as first grade (1) in the fifth month (5). This means that the child is reading at a level equivalent to the fifth month of first grade.

This score or reading level can help parents understand exactly where their child scores are related to their grade level. Some children might be reading ahead of expectations.

The percentile rank in the report refers to how a child has scored in relation to other students in the same grade. A child that is in the 50th percentile reads better than half of children in their grade; this might be considered an average reading score, although parents might wish to review their child’s reading level, too.

Some Star Reading reports include the child’s reading growth. This data might be found on the back of the report; it will show scores throughout the child’s testing history and also the child’s reading growth from a previous testing period to the current testing period.

Star Reading reports might include a bar that shows parents a child’s overall reading proficiency. This bar could indicate that the child is reading on target or it might indicate that the child is on watch or even in need of immediate intervention.

Children might score low compared to a previous test. As long as this score bounces back, it might simply be a blip related to an illness, stress or just a bad day. However, if reading reports are consistently revealing low scores, parents might reach out to a teacher for guidance.

What is a Core Reading Assessment?

Some reading assessments could be considered ‘core reading assessments’ by a school district. These are tests that the district regularly uses to gauge reading proficiency, growth and to identify children who need additional reading intervention.

Core reading tests can include Star Reading, BAS and others. To understand which tests a district uses to measure reading, parents can talk to their child’s teacher or visit their school district’s website.

What Types of Reading Assessments Provide the Most Accurate Results?

Reading tests utilized by school districts are likely chosen because they have shown proven results and provide an accurate measurement of reading proficiency and comprehension. There isn’t one test that is known for being the most accurate; different districts could utilize different resources.

However, some children could rush through computer-based tests. They might become easily distracted on computer-based tests or they simply might not care to take their time. This doesn’t mean that the test is inaccurate; the lower score would be due to the child’s lack of attentiveness or their speed.

An oral reading test like BAS allows teachers to work with a child on an individualized basis to better assess reading ability. This test might require a child to focus and be more attentive.

Use a Free Reading Level Assessment

If parents need a quick assessment to gauge their child’s reading level, they can utilize Readability’s free grade-level reading assessment. This tool provides an accurate reading level and only takes about one minute for children to complete.

Parents need to select their child’s grade-level to begin. The assessment is designed to be used for children in kindergarten through sixth grade. Parents should ensure their child has access to a computer, tablet or phone that includes a microphone.

The test will prompt children to read a section of text aloud. The program will analyze the child’s reading and assess the child’s reading level based on their fluency and comprehension.

Parents will receive a reading report for their child that includes the reading level. This report also will include tips on how to help children if they are reading below their grade level.

If parents discover that their child needs additional help with reading, they can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the Readability program. Readability is designed with a built-in AI tutor that’s programmed with voice recognition software. Children read books in their reading level library aloud, and the tutor learns the child’s voice and identifies when the child needs help.

Parents who use Readability’s free reading level assessment can use the reading level from the report to help choose the best starting point on the Readability program for their child; Readability recommends starting the program one level below the child’s reading level. If the assessment showed that the child was reading at a third-grade level, parents should start their child at a second grade reading level.

Sign up today to begin a free seven-day trial and explore the program.