Friday, April 22, 2011

What's 3rd Grade Reading Level? Part 1

I want to continue on the topic of how important it is for a third grader to be successful in reading.  Early intervention will make all the difference in the world for your child.  Below is an article about "What a 3rd grade student's reading level should be. The first part of the article is below.

Hubbub Explainer: What's 3rd Grade Reading Level?
By Andrew Phelps
Jun 10, 2010, 6:23 PM Updated 9/22/10
One of these kids will probably graduate high school on time. The other may not. Can you guess which one will succeed?

These are third graders at John Tobin Elementary in Cambridge, recorded in a story last year by WBUR’s Monica Brady-Myerov. And, OK, we don’t know for sure what will happen to either of them. But the data show, time and again, that a third grader’s reading skills are the best indicator of how he or she will perform in high school.

Third grade is a critical year. “When they leave third grade, there is a major shift — from learning to read, to reading to learn,” said Jaime Frost, a literacy coach, in Monica’s story.

A new study (PDF), commissioned by Boston nonprofit Strategies for Children and conducted by Harvard researchers, put a gloomy statistic in the spotlight: 43 percent of third graders in the state can’t read at the third-grade level. The numbers get even worse for minority students.

Researchers started by examining MCAS scores for every kid in Massachusetts. I asked the lead author, Nonie Lesaux, how a standardized test could possibly gauge a kid’s reading skills. Basically, she says, a student reads a passage and then has to answer questions about that passage.

If you’re not a proficient reader, Lesaux says: “You will have missed something. You won’t have picked up a certain amount of nuance. You won’t have made an inference that you were supposed to make. You might not have understood some figurative language that was in there, which hinders your ability to answer that question.

“You might just not have read it fast enough, so that you had the leftover energy to devote to making sense of it. The one thing is, if your reading is too slow, then you can’t remember what you read from the beginning to the end.”

Lesaux says three-quarters of children who fail the MCAS in third grade will struggle throughout their academic career.

But writing a test to be understood by the “average” third grader is really tricky. Millions of dollars and a lot of research goes into writing clear, culture-neutral, readable tests and textbooks.


Gina July 6, 2011 at 10:26 AM  

Interesting, particularly since my youngest is now heading into 3rd grade. Me eldest has just graduated from college, so I need a refresher on all the basics about now. :) I like that you put the word "average" in scare quotes--it always bothers me that we assess everything based on a standard that's so difficult to define. But I also agree that of all the skills that kids may vary on, reading comprehension is perhaps the most crucial, opening the door to most of the others.

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