Pen on NotebookIf Read Naturally is your chosen intervention then the first thing you will need to do is to place each of your students into the program. You cannot use assessment scores to place the students. Depending on the Read Naturally format you use, you may place students on the computer or on paper. Regardless, you need to use the Read Naturally placement procedure.

This procedure involves estimating the student’s level, having him read the placement passage from that level for a minute, subtracting his errors from the number of words attempted and getting a words correct per minute (wcpm) score. Then, take that number and place it into the placement table which will tell you the “Goldilocks” level.  You know - the one that is not too easy and is not too hard, but is just right. You can watch a short video called, Read Naturally Placement Process, to get additional information.

Key things to remember when placing students:

  • Occasionally, you may decide to test a student on more than one level, even if he fits into a level right away. He might fit into more than one level and the next one you test may be a better match.
  • When a student places into more than one level, use the knowledge you have about the student (motivation level, age, etc.) to help drive your decision on level placement.
  • Students place into Read Naturally at about a half to a full grade level above their reading level.  This is because of the audio support and the repeated readings.  Having students working in material that is slightly more difficult than material they can handle on their own accelerates their progress.
  • The built-in placement test will set an appropriate goal by adding 30 to the placement score if the student is in fourth grade or lower or 40 if the student is in fifth grade or higher.

Once students are working in their individual levels, you may notice that one or two students are not placed at the right level. Maybe Tommy had a really good (or bad) day on placement day.  We all know that happens a lot with struggling readers!

As soon as you notice that he isn’t in the right level, get him in a different one. If you place a student in a level that is too hard for him, take the blame when you move the student to the lower level in order to protect his ego. Tell him that you made a mistake and put him in the wrong level. Tell him that you’re going to get him in the right level right now.

If he is in a level that is too easy, tell him you know he can handle harder material and that you want to challenge him. Obtaining student buy-in is essential to the success of the program, and ultimately the child, and they need to be in the right level in order for that to happen.