Read Live User Guide

Determining Whether to Raise the Level or the Goal

Once you determine that a change in level or goal is needed, you must decide which one to raise. When changing levels and goals, raise only one element at a time.

After a student completes all of the stories in a series/level, raise the student's level. Typically, a student works in only one series per level. But, if a student would benefit from staying in the current level and if you have another series available that would be appropriate, you can keep the student in the level by assigning him or her another series.

If you need to make a change after the student has completed only a portion of the stories in a level, consider the student's comprehension and accuracy, and use your judgment.

  • If the student frequently scores less than 80 percent correct on the quiz questions on the first try, do not change the level.
  • If the student has high error rates during cold or hot timings because he or she lacks the oral vocabulary to read the current level of material or lacks the phonics skills to decode the words in this level, do not change the level.
  • If the student has high error rates due to carelessness or a desire for speed, do not change the goal reading rate.

If the student's comprehension is good and error rates are low, consider the gains he or she needs to make in level of material and reading rate to achieve his or her long-term fluency goal. The student's long-term fluency goal is typically reading unpracticed, grade-level material at a rate that is at least at the 50th percentile of national norms.

Jan Hasbrouck and Gerald Tindal have completed an extensive study of oral reading fluency. The results were published in a technical report entitled "Oral Reading Fluency: 90 Years of Measurement" in The Reading Teacher in 2006. The following table shows the mean (average) oral reading fluency in words correct per minute (WCPM) of students in grades 1 through 8 at the 50th percentile as determined by Hasbrouck and Tindal's data (Hasbrouck & Tindal, 2006). Use the information in this table to help decide whether to raise a student's level or goal. 

2006 Hasbrouck & Tindal Oral Reading Fluency Data, 50th Percentile

Grade Percentile Fall WCPM* Winter WCPM* Spring WCPM*
1 50 ---------- 23 53
2 50 51 72 89
3 50 71 92 107
4 50 94 112 123
5 50 110 127 139
6 50 127 140 150
7 50 128 136 150
8 50 133 146 151

* WCPM: Words Correct Per Minute

Once you've decided which element to raise—level or goal—follow the guidelines below to help ensure the student's continued success.

  • Typically, raise levels by half a year at a time. In rare cases, you may raise levels by a whole year if a student is reading in level 3.0 or above and has made significant fluency progress, comprehends well, and can handle the extra challenge.
  • Raise goals by ten words at a time.
  • Discuss the change with the student, asking for his or her input.
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