Independent reading level definition

Fluency: An Introduction | Reading Rockets

Even when students recognize many words automatically, their oral reading still may be expressionless, not fluent. To read with expression, readers must be able to divide the text into meaningful chunks. Readers must know to pause appropriately within and at the ends of sentences and when to change emphasis and tone. For example, a reader who lacks fluency may read, probably in a monotone, a line from Bill Martin Jr's Brown Bear, Brown Bear as if it were a list of words rather than a connected text, pausing at inappropriate places:

bear brown/
bear what/
you see.

A fluent reader will read the same line as:

Brown bear/
Brown bear/
What do you see?/


The difference between fluency and automaticity


Although they terms automaticity and fluency often are used interchangeably, they are not the same thing.

Automaticity is the fast, effortless word recognition that comes with a great deal of reading practice. In the early stages of learning to read, readers may be accurate but slow and inefficient at recognizing words. Continued reading practice helps word recognition become more automatic, rapid, and effortless.

Automaticity refers only to accurate, speedy word recognition, not to reading with expression. Therefore, automaticity (or automatic word recognition) is necessary, but not sufficient, for fluency.

Fluency instruction

Fluency is not a stage of development at which readers can read all words quickly and easily. Fluency changes, depending on what readers are reading, their familiarity with the words, and the amount of their practice with reading text. Even very skilled readers may read in a slow, labored manner when reading texts with many unfamiliar words or topics. For example, readers who are usually fluent may not be able to read technical material fluently, such as a textbook about nuclear physics or an article in a medical journal.

It is important to note that fluency instruction should be with a text that a student can read at their independent level. It is at this level where students are able to practice on speed and expression rather than decoding. The chart below describes each reading level:

Independent Level Relatively easy for the student to read (95% word accuracy).
Instructional Level Challenging but manageable for the reader (90% word accuracy).
Frustration Level Difficult text for the student to read (less than 90% word accuracy).

In an effort to help teachers gain knowledge on fluency instruction, researchers have investigated two major instructional approaches related to fluency. In the first approach, repeated and monitored oral reading (commonly called "repeated reading"), students read passages aloud several times and receive guidance and feedback from the teacher. In the second approach, independent silent reading, students are encouraged to read extensively on their own.

Repeated and monitored oral reading

Repeated and monitored oral reading improves reading fluency and overall reading achievement.

Students who read and reread passages orally as they receive guidance and/or feedback become better readers. Repeated oral reading substantially improves word recognition, speed, and accuracy as well as fluency. To a lesser but still considerable extent, repeated oral reading also improves reading comprehension. Repeated oral reading improves the reading ability of all students throughout the elementary school years. It also helps struggling readers at higher grade levels.

Traditionally, many teachers have relied primarily on round-robin reading to develop oral fluency. In round-robin reading, students take turns reading parts of a text aloud (though usually not repeatedly). But round-robin reading in itself does not increase fluency. This may be because students only read small amounts of text, and they usually read this small portion only once.

Researchers have found several effective techniques related to repeated oral reading:

  • students read and reread a text a certain number of times or until a certain level of fluency is reached. Four re-readings are sufficient for most students.
  • oral reading practice is increased through the use of audiotapes, tutors, peer guidance, or other means.

In addition, some effective repeated oral reading techniques have carefully designed feedback to guide the reader's performance.

Silent, independent reading

No research evidence is available currently to confirm that instructional time spent on silent, independent reading with minimal guidance and feedback improves reading fluency and overall reading achievement.

One of the major differences between good and poor readers is the amount of time they spend reading. Many studies have found a strong relationship between reading ability and how much a student reads. On the basis of this evidence, teachers have long been encouraged to promote voluntary reading in the classroom. Teacher-education and reading-education literature often recommends in-class procedures for encouraging students to read on their own, such as Silent Sustained Reading (SSR) or Drop Everything and Read (DEAR).

Research, however, has not yet confirmed whether independent silent reading with minimal guidance or feedback improves reading achievement and fluency. The research suggests that direct instruction in reading is the best predictor of reading achievement. However, it is important for students to be given time to apply their reading skills through silent reading with a book at their independent level (read with 95% word accuracy).

Reading Levels and What They Mean

Reading Levels and What They Mean
What Do Reading Levels Mean?
Vivian Franz, Ph.D.

To: Parents of Elementary School Children

      Frequently, parents wonder exactly what reading test scores mean in terms of everyday achievement. If a child is reading "at grade level," what does that really mean? Is he or she reading well at grade level? Does the child know most of the words in the school reader at sight, or are there a good many words that require thoughtful analysis? The information that follows gives some insight into the reading process.

      Most children are actually taught by the teacher at their instructional levels. This is the level at which the teacher "stretches" the student in his thinking and reading. The independent level, on the other hand, is the level at which the child can read easily and with pleasure. Reading scores generally refer to instructional levels.

  1. The child's independent reading level is usually determined from books in which he/she can read with no more than one error in word recognition in each 100 words and has a comprehension score of at least 90 percent. At this level the child reads orally in a natural tone, free from tension. His silent reading will be faster than his oral reading.
  2. The instructional reading level is usually determined from books (or other material) which the child can read with no more than one word-recognition error in approximately 20 words. The comprehension score should be 75 percent or more. At this level, the child reads orally, after silent study, without tension. Silent reading is faster than oral reading. The student is able to use word-recognition clues and techniques. He reads with teacher help and guidance. This is the "stretch" level. With the right materials and purposeful reading, he makes maximum progress.
  3. The frustration level is marked by the book in which the child obviously struggles to read. Errors are numerous. The child reads without a natural rhythm and in an unnatural voice. No child should be asked to read at his frustration level, but the teacher needs to know that this level does exist for him.
  4. The probable capacity reading level is shown by the highest book in a given series in which the child can understand 75 percent or more of what he hears when the book is read aloud to him. He should be able to answer questions and to use properly many of the special words used in the selection. He should be able to use in his own conversation or discussion some language structures comparable to those used in the selection.

Front Page
Information for Parents and Teachers | Procedures
Test Preparation | Registration Form

Writing Exercises | Study Tips | Kindergarten Readiness | Helping Children Learn | When There's a Learning Problem | Study Skills
Reading Levels | Reading Comprehension | Reading as a Thinking Process | SAT FAQs | Self-Concept and Reading Disability
Learning Vocabulary

Reading analyst - reading levels.


  • Group 1. Teaching the technique of semantic reading
    • Beginner level (letter reading)
    • Developing level (reading by syllable)
    • Advanced level (reading in whole words and syllables with compound words)
    • Free level (reading in whole words)
  • Group 2. Development of reading competencies for subject education nine0006
  • Weak level
  • Training level
  • Independent level

The "Reading Analyst" system makes it possible to assess the level of reading competence for two groups - the group for teaching the technique of semantic reading (Group 1) and the group for developing reading competence for subject education (Group 2).

Although we assume that the first group will most likely include elementary school students from grades 1 to 4, and the second group will include secondary school children from grades 5 to 7, we strongly recommend taking into account the individual characteristics of children: if a child elementary school reads very well, test his reading competencies on tests of the secondary school group, but if a child in the fifth grade reads with a lot of technical errors, it may make sense to check his competencies on tests for group 1 elementary school and then select texts for reading corresponding to its level. nine0005

Below we offer brief descriptions of the levels that are determined during testing and evaluation of texts, and also give recommendations on the selection of texts for each level.

Group 1. Education of semantic reading technique

Description of the levels of competence of reading words. The reading speed is low, there is a recall of each letter separately. In some cases, there may be a breakdown in reading a word due to the large time interval between reading letters. Reading comprehension is limited to a word or phrase. The teacher's help is needed both in the name of the letters and their reduction into a word, and in keeping the attention on the text. Reading speed per minute - 10-15 words. nine0005

Recommendations for the selection of texts for the initial level of reading technique:

Texts of the initial level of reading technique are intended for mastering the reading skill from scratch and represent various types of alphabets and short texts necessary to consolidate the skill of recognizing and reading letters and short words. The transfer of the plot is carried out by 2-3 sentences connected sequentially with each other.

Features of texts suitable for this level:

Short texts of 30 words are suitable for beginners, the length of words should not exceed 5–6 letters. It is good if as many words as possible correspond to the following features.

  • Words of one or two syllables.
  • Three-syllable words must be open syllable (e.g. white ). Stressed vowels must be at the beginning of a word.
  • Words begin with a consonant
  • Words end in consonant

Very short and simple texts are required for this level of reading. Such texts are not evaluated by the Reading Analyst system, but are selected independently.

Developing level (reading by syllable)

Description of the level

Reading by syllables, in difficult places - spelling. There are many errors such as omissions of syllables and words, substitutions of letters and syllables. There is almost no orientation to punctuation, the intonation when reading does not correspond much to the content. Reading comprehension is low and fragmented. Reading speed is slow. There is a decrease in motivation to read when faced with difficulties. A teacher's help is needed to read words that have more than three syllables and have articulations of three consonants. Reading speed per minute - 35-50 words. nine0005

Recommendations for the selection of texts for the developing level of reading technique:

Texts for the developing level of reading technique are designed to strengthen reading skills, as well as for corrective work in the presence of difficulties in mastering it. May contain a short simple linear plot with a main character or main idea and a small number of secondary additional ideas. If necessary, the narrative can be divided into several small parts without compromising reading comprehension. nine0005

Features of texts suitable for this level:

Texts consisting of 70 words are suitable for the developing level, the length of words should not exceed 10 letters. The text may contain words that have the following features:

  • Words with one closed three-letter syllable
  • One-syllable words and two-syllable words with a combination of consonants at the beginning of the word (for example: coward , hello )
  • Stress on the first syllable in two-syllable words and on the second syllable in three-syllable words (for example: lamp, candy )
  • Words of three syllables and four syllables (alternating vowels and consonants) (for example: steamboat , ran )
  • Nominative, accusative, dative and prepositional words
  • Sentences with simple syntax: definition, subject, predicate. (For example: The white bird has arrived. )
  • Offers with 2 homogeneous members
  • Offers with 3 homogeneous members
  • Impersonal offers
  • Compound sentences
  • Personal verbs
  • Introductory words

Texts that are suitable for this level of reading, the "Reading Analyst" system refers to texts for developing reading level .

Advanced level (reading in whole words and syllables with compound words)

Description of level

Whole-word reading of easy words can switch to syllable-by-syllable reading in case of occurrence of polysyllabic, difficult or infrequent words. When reading, there may be errors in the repetition of words and syllables, difficulties in understanding some parts of the text. There is unevenness in the speed of reading and the transfer of expressiveness. Need help reading obsolete words, words with more than 5-6 syllables and texts of 3 levels of complexity. The understanding of the text is adequate, but fragmentary, there is an assimilation of the general plot of the narration, but the details and secondary ideas are not fixed. Reading speed per minute - 65-75 words. nine0005

Recommendations for the selection of texts for advanced reading skills:

Texts for advanced reading skills can be used to introduce new knowledge and develop competence in meaningful reading, in particular, reading comprehension and formulating answers to questions about the text. The narrative may contain several storylines or ideas, the number of secondary elements of the narrative may increase, but should remain within 5. The text should be divided into semantic parts. These texts can be offered to read for leisure reading to schoolchildren who have developed and fluent levels of reading technique. nine0005

Features of texts suitable for this level:

Texts of about 100 words are best for the advanced level, the length of words should not exceed 14 letters. The text may contain words with the following properties:

  • Monosyllabic words with a combination of consonants at the end of the word (for example: scarf )
  • Two-syllable words with a combination of consonants in the middle of the word (for example: srot )
  • nine0007 Three-syllable words with a combination of consonants at the beginning, middle or end of a word (for example: beauty, harness)
  • Words of four or five syllables (alternating vowels and consonants) (for example: drawing)
  • Adverbs
  • Genitive and instrumental words
  • Complex sentences, sentences with coordinating conjunctions and sentences with direct speech
  • Reverse word order in a sentence. (For example: Vasya came home late. -
  • The presence of cardinal numerals, pronominal adjectives and pronominal nouns

Texts that are suitable for this level of reading, the system "Reading Analyst" refers to texts for advanced reading level.

Free level (reading in whole words)

Description of the level

Reading in whole words with a small number of errors in new terms, obsolete words or polysyllabic words, infrequently occurring words. Errors can be noticed by the reader and corrected. There is respect for intonation and expressiveness. Comprehension of the text is complete, answers to questions are detailed. The reader understands causal relationships, can predict linear events. Reading does not require the help of a teacher. Reading speed per minute - more than 100 words. nine0005

Recommendations for the selection of texts for the free level of reading technique:

Texts for the free level of reading technique are suitable for studying the subject and forming mental operations of analysis and forecasting when working with text, which are part of the reading competence. The plot in the text may be non-linear with additional inclusions of secondary storylines or ideas. The story should be broken down into small semantic parts. For students with a free level of reading technique, to maintain motivation, the selection of texts includes the thematic interests of schoolchildren. Students can read such texts for pleasure. nine0005

Features of texts suitable for this level:

The free reading level allows you to read texts of 100 words, but words in the text can contain up to 18 letters. Words with the following parameters can be included in the text:

  • Sentences with adversarial conjunctions
  • Rarely used, obsolete words
  • Foreign words
  • The presence of participial phrases

Texts that are suitable in their parameters for this level of reading, the Reading Analyst system refers to texts for free reading .

Group 2. Development of reading competencies for subject training

Description of levels in the formation of reading competencies for subject training

Weak level

Reading level

It is difficult, no smooth, there are no smooth inaccuracies, mistakes. Comprehension of the text occurs at a superficial level. Most often, there is just voice-over of the text. Can read light text independently. Reading more complex texts requires the help of an adult. Reading accuracy is below 85%, error rate is more than 20 words. He can correct 1 mistake out of 5 on his own. Reading speed is slow, there is no orientation to punctuation marks. Understanding is not adequate, fragmentary, there are errors in understanding both the text itself, and the subtext, and beyond the text. There is no way to generalize and use the information read. There are answers to factual questions like: Who? What? When? Where? How much? Is not it? nine0005

Recommendations for the selection of texts for a weak level of reading for subject teaching:

Texts suitable for a weak level are intended primarily for correcting reading skills and competencies, especially in cases where there are: a large number of errors, misunderstanding of what has been read, inability to answer factual questions.

For a weak level of reading competence, texts with the following properties are suitable for subject teaching:

  • The text consists of 2-3 paragraphs.
  • The text consists of short sentences without complex constructions and special language tools.
  • There are no more than 3-4 terms in the text.
  • The main idea is clear, simple, clearly formulated at the beginning of the text.

Texts that are suitable for this level of reading, the system "Reading Analyst" refers to texts for a weak level of reading for subject teaching. nine0004

Educational level

Description of the level

Reading has an average level, which is reflected in errors in words and intonations when reading. There is smoothness, except for those moments when complex words and phrases occur. Reading flexibility and expressiveness are present when reading light texts. For more complex texts, adult assistance is required. Understanding of the text is adequate, but fragmentary. You can meet errors in understanding subtext and overtext. The accuracy of reading technique exceeds 85%, the error rate is 1 in 20 words. Ability to correct your reading errors - 2 out of 5. Reading speed is average. Can use information from the text within a narrow framework, generalize and find causal relationships, which allows answering questions of evaluative and convergent types. (Why? How? How? What do you think?)

Recommendations for the selection of texts for the academic level of reading for subject education:

Texts suitable for the academic level are intended to introduce you to the topic of the academic subject, to start studying the topic. Texts of this level can be used to develop the technique of semantic reading, as well as to develop the skills of reproducing the content of the understood text and answering questions about it. In addition, students who experience some difficulty in reading can read such texts for pleasure, which helps to strengthen the motivation to read. nine0005

Texts for the intermediate level should have the following characteristics:

  • The text has a simple logical and semantic structure.
  • The main idea of ​​the text is clear and distinct.
  • The main idea of ​​the text is located either at its beginning or at the end.
  • Each paragraph is linked to the previous one by the corresponding means of communication.
  • The volume of terms does not exceed 5–7 words.

Texts that are suitable in terms of their parameters for this reading level are classified by the Reading Analyst system as Reading level texts for subject teaching.

Independent level

Level description

Reading is easy. It is characterized by fluency, ease, a small number of errors, expressiveness. Able to discuss what has been read. The help of the teacher is not required when reading texts of any complexity.

The independent level of reading competence for subject education is characterized by the following student skills: complete (basic thoughts and details), precise (meanings of words are known), distinct (all linguistic ways of expressing meaning are known), deep (understanding of text, subtext, overtext, context) understanding of a rather long text, often containing conflicting information, from unfamiliar and unfamiliar subject areas. Inaccuracies in one of the four parameters are allowed. The ability to determine the difficulties of reading and understanding the text, as well as the quality of one's reading and understanding of the text, analyzing the quality of full and short answers to questions. Positive and interested attitude towards free, abundant reading. nine0005

Recommendations for the selection of texts for the independent level of reading competence for subject education:

A text suitable for the independent level can be designed to deepen knowledge in a particular academic subject, it introduces a large number of facts and terms. In addition, texts of an independent level are suitable for the formation and development of mental operations of analysis and forecasting when working with text, as well as the ability to make annotations, questions, formulate full and short answers to them. nine0005

Texts suitable for independent reading competence for subject-specific learning are characterized by the following properties:

  • The text contains the author's opinion, is emotionally colored.
  • The structure of the text can be complex, complex, the main idea is read from the text and can be located anywhere in it.
  • The text contains a problem that the reader formulates independently based on its content.
  • nine0007 Understanding the text requires background knowledge hidden in the text.

Texts that are suitable for this level of reading, the system "Reading Analyst" refers to texts for independent reading level for subject teaching.

Online language proficiency test

Why take the test

What is CEFR

The CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) system is specifically designed to assess the level of proficiency in any European language. nine0005

  • CEFR generally distinguishes 3 levels of language proficiency: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Each of them is further divided into 2 groups
  • Correctly designed tests must be passed to determine the current level
  • The CEFR language proficiency scale is recognized in many countries, not only European ones.
  • Don't try to describe your skills in your own words. Just name your CEFR level and you will be understood

English proficiency tests

Free testing with a specialist

Don't trust online tests?

Leave a request in the form below and our specialist will test you in reading, grammar, listening, speaking. And it will tell you exactly at what level you are now.

Free test

Duration 40 minutes

We will test your knowledge

We will give recommendations to improve your skills




By clicking you accept the agreement

Prove your knowledge with an international certificate

ILS is an accredited Cambridge International Examination Center

Document your level of knowledge

Gain confidence in your language skills

Learn more

Answers to questions

Didn't find an answer?

Ask a question in a convenient way for you

info@ils-school. com

8 (800) 555 17 90

+7 (495) 215 58 28

The CEFR test is an objective test of your language level.

The test will help determine what general knowledge and at what level you need to pull up.

The difficulty of tasks increases gradually, you go from simple to complex. And the test results are correlated with the international language proficiency assessment system CEFR

The test evaluates your knowledge of grammar, reading, writing and translation skills. To assess your speaking skills in a foreign language, sign up for a free test with a specialist nine0005

To assess your speaking skills in a foreign language, sign up for a free test with a specialist

Foreign language test

How well do you speak a foreign language?

Each of us can only give an approximate answer to this question. After all, we, as a rule, do not know professional criteria or generally accepted requirements.

So when you visit ILS for the first time, we will offer you a free language test. It is necessary in order to understand your capabilities and select the optimal training program. Training is like a diet: there is no universal one, there is one that is right for you. nine0005

5 reasons to check your knowledge at the ILS Education Center:

Our tests determine your level

according to the international CEFR scale. It consists of 6 steps. Beginner, Elementary, Pre-Intermediate, Intermediate, Upper-Intermediate, Advanced

Based on the results of the passage, specialists will select for you a training group

whose participants are at the same level of foreign language proficiency. This will make the learning process as comfortable as possible.

We have developed tests for each of the foreign languages ​​

that are taught at the school: English, German, French, Chinese, Italian and Spanish.

Learn more


North Coast Community Services
710 Fraser Street, Prince Rupert, BC V8J 1P9
Ph: 250.627.7166 | Fx: 250.627.7482

© All Rights Reserved | powered by ExpressionEngine