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My kindergartener can read Charlotte’s Web.  Will DORA tell me her true reading level?

I have a 5 yr old who taught herself to read at age 2 1/2. She will start Kindergarten in a few weeks able to read a book like Charlotte's Web on her own. Would your online DORA assessment be a good one for determining her exact reading level or would the discrepancy between her age and her reading ability cause the results to be less accurate? I would like to get a clear picture of her reading ability before she begins the school year and am wondering if this is the place to start.

It's astounding that your daughter seems so advanced in reading for her age.   If you know your daughter can comfortably read Charlotte's Web orally  (i.e., generally misses less than 5-10 words on a page - varies depending on difficulty of the page), then you know that your daughter is able to decode a book with a reading level approximately between grades 4 to 6 (give or take a grade level depending on who you talk to).  However, reading ability, whether it's measured by 'grade level' or some scaled score on standardized tests, is complicated.  Reading ability involves a number of skills like attention to spoken sounds, ability to match sounds to how we represent them in standard American English, recognizing words by sight, fluently reading phrases and sentences, employing different comprehension strategies, ability to understand different genres of text, motivation to read, etc.  If you want an assessment that can quantify (and qualify) your daughter's reading skills before she goes into Kindergarten, DORA can do that.  Given her age, it'll start off with simpler items, but would quickly progress to harders ones as she correctly answers each item.  You may find that she might recognize words correctly with great ease on subtests like the word recognition subtest, but you might also find that on the silent reading comprehension subtest, she might struggle to answers some of the questions as her background knowledge about might be less developed than what would be required for upper grade passages.  DORA will help give you a more complete profile of your daughter's reading abilities than just her ability to fluently recognize words.  It will examine her phonemic awareness kills, ability to recognize frequently occuring words by sight and how well she can recognize words of increasing difficulty, phonic skills, spelling, vocabulary, and comprehension.  It will also take her performance on all these subtests and extrapolate the kinds of strategies she may or may not be using and the kinds of instructional stategies that might help her reading development move forward.  If you think that's the kind of information you'd like before she enters Kindergarten, then I think that DORA is a good place to start. 

Tags: reading level, advanced reader, kindergarten reading level, reading abilities

Comments
  1. Sandra K.
    Reply 02/07/09

    That’s amazing that your daughter taught herself to read before kindergarten.  I know this is unorthodox, but if it were my daughter, I would actually encourage her to watch a lot of good TV.  The reason is that children who have lots of verbal aptitude soak up vocabulary like a sponge, so since your daughter has a high verbal aptitude, she could easily acquire an enormous vocabulary just by hearing it on TV, whereas kids with less verbal aptitude would just vegetate while the TV goes in one ear and out the other.  Of course, it’s important to choose quality programming, but I think the bottom line is to expose her to as much language (even foreign) as possible because of her ability to absorb it.  Using different mediums like TV, radio, etc. can help you do this. 
    —-
    Sandra K.

  2. Justify
    Reply 02/02/09

    National Urban Alliance (NUA) strategies, like thinking maps, and balanced literacy. A coach involved in the training demoed a series of lessons on priming students for comprehension strategies with text. She prefaced the demo by sharing that when she taught Stephanie Harvey’s Comprehension Toolkit lessons, her students never had the comments that Stephanie’s students did or went away with the same level of understanding. In retrospect, she realized that when introducing students to a comprehension strategy with the Comprehension Toolkit, she was requiring students to learn a new strategy, a new text, a new subject and a challenging read.  I knew just what she was talking about because many of our kids get loads of Toolkit instruction and still don’t master the skills or pass the WASL. Finally, someone else who sees the downside of the toolkit, despite loving it! If you cannot wait to order the book like me, I’ll tell you now it’s:┬áComprehension Connections: Bridges to Strategic Reading by Tanny McGregor with a forward by Stephanie Harvey.  She told us it’s in her top five of must have books; me too! The anchor or wall charts are included as pictures, most of the high-interest lesson activities have multiple options for a lesson and analogy.

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