Improving Reading Achievement -Are you sure your “just right” texts are really “just right?”

“Just Right” reading…’ve heard that before, right?  You probably even use it to help your students choose books they can read.  If I asked you to say what qualifies as a “just right” text for a student, what would you say?  Would you say it is a text they can read at 95% accuracy?  98% accuracy? Most reading experts consider it to be 98% accuracy, with good phrasing and intonation, and at least 90% accuracy in comprehension. They call this “high success” reading.  Isn’t that a great term?  High success, after all, is what we all want for our students. Now think for a minute though, how much access do ALL of your students have to those texts, and how much time do your students actually spend reading that level of text?  How many students only experience  “high success” reading during your 20 or 30 minutes of independent reading?  What about the rest of the day?

When I was in the classroom, I would oh-so-carefully assess my students and make sure they knew just what book tub to choose independent reading books from, but the rest of the day….I wasn’t as careful.  That’s a problem because we know from the reading experts that students make the most learning growth with materials that are not too easy, not too hard, but “just right” or “high success reading” for them. On top of that, we know that it takes 80 minutes of “high success” reading EACH DAY for a student to make one year’s growth in one year’s time. (*See this previous post for more on the 80 minutes statistic.)

The only way we can do that, is to make sure that we have more “high success” texts available for students to read each day.  Eventually, I started typing up the daily math problem, (we used Exemplars problems), G.L.A.D. poems and chants, articles for science and social studies, and anything else I could think of, with at least three different levels of text. I also made sure that every chart in my room was accessible to even the lowest reader.  It was especially important for me to be careful to provide “high success” texts for my struggling readers.  After all, the 80 minutes are even more critical for their progress.  I would type up one or two things this way each week and over the course of a year, I had tripled the amount of “high success” texts available for my students.

I also started monitoring my students’ independent books more carefully, because even books at the same reading level, can vary widely.  What worked for me was to do a quick check on it while conferring with readers during independent reading each week.  I’d just listen to them read a page or two out of one of their books. With a bit of feedback, students became experts at knowing when a book was too hard.

So give it a thought….see what you can do to increase your students’ access to “high success” reading materials,  so you can increase the amount of “high success” reading your students are doing each day.

Now you know why we are passionate about making things that all of your students can read.  Check out our store if you need some materials to help you out.

Here’s to a classroom full of “high success” readers!


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