Question: What are the problems inherent in equating reading levels of texts with the reading needs of students?
Answer/Quote: “In many classrooms, decisions about text levels may impact multiple aspects of literacy programs. The practice in which they seem to have most influence is guided reading. Indeed, the production and popular use of these leveled texts flourished as the practice of guided reading expanded, and now, leveling, has found its way into the bedrock of our literacy programs.” P. 209.
Quote: “When we began work with Bob, he was confusing reading levels [of text] with reading needs, and he was assuming that finding the correct level would move his children along. He was aware that there were problems with this small group, but his data told him the children were on the same level, and, as such, could be taught the same way from the same materials.” P. 121.
Quote: “While guided reading using leveled texts provides many opportunities for learning, it also has the potential to limit children’s exposure to challenging and grade-appropriate learning experiences.” P. 214.
Comment: Assuming that assigning reading levels means teaching the same thing to all the students in the group makes the complex reading experience too simple. In fact, we have to acknowledge that what individuals need is not the same thing as using reading levels to make reading instruction easier. Grouping has its advantages, but the individual reading needs of individual students must also be of concern. Limiting diagnosis to reading level deprives the instructor of information about the complex needs of each student. RayS.
Title: “Let’s Start Leveling abut Leveling.” K Glasswell and M Ford. Language Arts (January 2011), pp. 208-216.