Monday, October 8, 2012

Reading Levels

I am really interested in the idea that we should be providing text books that are on students' independent reading level rather than their instructional level (Allington, 2002). Yes, we want high standards. We want to push our students, but we also want them to be able to read and comprehend their content material! I think a large factor is how much they are reading independently versus with the support of their teachers and classmates.

Wouldn't it be nice if students' word recognition always aligned with their comprehension? Unfortunately, educational decisions are rarely that simple as Halladay (2012) points out. As I've posted previously, I'm still pretty much in favor of not counting students' reading errors if they don't affect comprehension. As long as students get the message, there are so many other things to worry about! Maybe I'm naive.

The assumption that "certain levels of decoding and comprehension difficulty cause frustration" (Halladay, 2012, p. 59) is so complex, but ultimately, I think a lot of it comes down to projecting our own issues on children. I know there is a book sitting on my bookshelf, Making a Killing, The Political Economy of Animal Rights (2007). I would love to read it, but it's definitely at my frustration level (which is hard to admit). I keep it there, thinking someday I will just dig in, but I don't. I've tried, and I get frustrated and quit.

Someday, Mr. Torres...

Children aren't necessarily the same. They can read a book that's "too hard" and still have a good time. Do they comprehend all of it? No! According to Halladay (2012), they may not comprehend half of it, but it doesn't always bother them. I think this means that we as teachers need to be aware of our students' interests and provide a wide spectrum of titles they may want to try. We should be forgiving if they decide a book isn't a good fit after they start it because we do that too. They may just push themselves a little farther than they would have otherwise though, and in my book, that's a very good thing.


Allington, R. L. (2002). You can't learn much from books you can't read. Educational leadership, 60(3), 16-19.

Halladay, J. L. (2012). Revisiting key assumptions of the reading level framework. The reading teacher, 66(1), 53-62


  1. I really enjoy your blog posts. I hope you will continue posting once this course is over. I think you could be a great resource for other novice teachers.