Reading Level Information

  • Most authorities define three reading levels:


    1. Independent Reading Level.

    Easy reading. In oral reading, a child would have one or less word calling errors in 100 words of text, with 100 percent accuracy on comprehension questions about the story. A student could read it alone with ease.

    2. Instructional Reading Level.

    This is the best level for learning new vocabulary. It requires the assistance of a teacher or tutor. The word error range allowed while reading orally to the teacher is from 2 to 5 word calling errors per 100 words of text (95% accuracy or better), with at least 80 percent comprehension on simple recall questions about the story. This is where the best progress is made in reading. Children who are forced or permitted to attempt reading beyond the 5-word error limit soon begin to feel frustration when in an instructional setting.

    3. Frustration Reading Level.

    This is too hard for the reader. Word errors are over 5 per 100 words of text. Comprehension questions are below 70 percent accuracy. Unfortunately, teachers sometimes allow this to happen, especially when the words missed are basic vocabulary sight words, such as "was" for "saw" and "what/that." The practice of having young children work in frustration level reading materials is not professionally sound.  Difficult texts do, however, make for great read alouds by parents and teachers alike!  Exposing students to higher level material, a variety of  authors and genres, new vocabulary, and expanding their background knowledge by engaging in daily read alouds is highly recommended.