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Read Naturally Encore: Placing students with the placement packet


Accurate placement in Encore II is critical to student achievement. A student is accurately placed if the student has been assigned an appropriate level of material in a suitable series and given a challenging, yet achievable, goal. Understanding the terms series, level, and goal as they apply to Encore II is essential.

  • A series is a set of levels, each containing nonfiction stories with audio support.
  • A level is a set of stories of similar difficulty.
  • A goal is the number of words a student must read correctly per minute to pass a story.

About the Placement Packet

The Read Naturally Encore II Placement Packet is an essential tool for placing students accurately. The placement packet is included with Encore II orders and is also available as a free download on the Read Naturally website.
pointer Download the Encore II Placement Packet

The placement packet has the directions, placement stories, and other resources you need to determine an accurate placement for each student. It guides you through a system to effectively determine and validate initial placement for each student. This system has two parts: initial placement and checking initial placement.

Initial Placement

Initial placement is the process of matching the student to a combination of series, level, and goal that challenges but does not discourage the student.
pointer Download the Conducting Initial Placement Instructions and Worksheet

To place a student using the Placement Packet, follow these steps:

  1. Estimate the learner’s reading level and determine phonics needs, if any.
  2. Select the placement story closest to the learner’s estimated reading level or phonics need.
  3. Conduct a one-minute timing using the story at the testing level. As you conduct the timing, tally the learner’s errors.
    pointerHow to conduct a one-minute timing ​
    pointer Guidelines for counting errors
  4. Calculate the words correct per minute (wcpm) score by subtracting the number of errors from the number of words attempted.
  5. Determine whether the level of the placement story is appropriate for the learner. If the learner’s wcpm score falls within the range for the testing level of the placement story (see Initial Placement Ranges table below), use that level in step 6 to select the initial level. If not, select a higher or lower placement story based on whether the learner’s wcpm score was above or below the range. Then, repeat steps 3 through 5 until you find an appropriate level.
    Initial Placement Ranges
    Testing Level WCPM Score
    1.0 to 3.0 30 to 60
    3.5 to 5.0 60 to 80
    5.6 to 7.0 80 to 100
    8.0 100 to 140
  6. Select an appropriate series and level from the Placement Testing Levels and Options table (below). Appropriate options are listed in the column under each testing level. 
    Note: Select a phonics level only if the level reinforces the learner’s earliest phonics need and falls within the appropriate range.
    Placement Testing Levels and Options
    Testing Levels 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5 4.0 4.5 5.0 5.6 6.0 7.0 8.0
    Sequenced Series Levels* 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5 4.0 4.5 5.0 5.6 6.0 7.0 8.0
    Phonics Series Levels 0.8 1.3 1.8 2.3 2.6, 2.7**

    Idioms Series Levels

    3.0 3.5 4.0 4.5
    *Levels are also available in the Blind and Visually Impaired series.
    **Levels 2.6 and 2.7 are intended for students who need review in short and long vowels and are ready to read two-syllable words.
  7. Set an initial goal by adding 30 (grades 1–4) or 40 (grades 5+) to the learner’s wcpm score and rounding down to the nearest 5. 

Checking Initial Placement

Checking initial placement is a set of steps to be completed after the student has finished three stories. Use the student’s performance data from those three stories to make sure the student’s initial placement (level of reading material and WCPM goal) is appropriate.
pointer Learn more about checking initial placement
pointerDownload the Checking Initial Placement Instructions and Worksheet
pointer Checking initial placement calculator


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