A reading level is an assessment of a person’s reading ability. Specifically, it describes the grade level at which someone reads. (This can and often does differ from his or her grade level in school.)
According to a study done by the National Center for Education Statistics: “The results show the average adult reads at the 9th-grade level. This accounts for the fact that the popular blockbuster novels are written at the 7th grade level. People like to read recreationally two grades below their actual reading skill. The average newspaper is written at the 11th-grade level, the tolerable limit for a 9th-grade reader.” http://www.impact-information.com/impactinfo/literacy.htm
Two magazines with the largest circulations in the world, TV Guide and Readers Digest, are written at the 9th-grade reading level. USA Today is written at the 10th-grade level. The Times of India, at the 15th-grade level, may be the most difficult newspaper in the world to read. http://www.impact-information.com/impactinfo/newsletter/plwork15.htm
The reading levels of children’s books are often listed on the cover of the book. For example, RL 3.2 indicates that the book was written with the reading vocabulary of a typical child in the second month of the third grade. This system typically goes up to the 6th grade level, but what if you want to find out what your older child’s reading level is? While no single test can adequately capture the whole complex picture, you can get a good estimate by averaging the results of several reading tests below.
http://cdextras.cambridge.org/Readers/RPT_last.swf – A fun Flash word match with seven levels from Beginner to Advanced. When the player has completed 10 questions, they will see their score and level.
http://www.sonlight.com/quick-reading-assessment.html – Sonlight’s Quick Reading Assessment is designed to help you find your student’s reading level, from Kindergarten to Grade 4.
http://www.englishclub.com/reading/guide-levels.htm – English Club’s online test to help determine your reading level.
http://childdevelopmentinfo.com/learning/reading_test.shtml – Free Reading Ability Screening Test to determine the approximate reading level of a child, from Child Development Institute.
http://www.macmillanreaders.com/tests/level-test – Macmillan Readers have put together an interactive test so you can check that you are reading the books most suited to your language level. You will be asked to complete a series of activities that have been graded from Starter to Upper Intermediate level. These will range from matching the picture to the correct word, to drag-and-drop activities.
http://www.kaplaninternational.com/english-test/index.aspx – Kaplan has created a comprehensive free English test in 3 parts: Grammar and Vocabulary; Reading Comprehension; Listening Comprehension. At the end, they will give you detailed results by section on your English level.
http://www.ehow.com/how_7725010_test-determine-childs-reading-level.html – An eHow guide to determining a child’s reading level that also addresses the approximate number of words per minute students should be reading at each grade level.
http://www.lexercise.com/dyslexia-services/screen-your-child/ – Do you believe your child may have Dyslexia? This free online test will help you to determine whether your child is having trouble reading and processing words.
http://www.eastendliteracy.on.ca/clearlanguageanddesign/readingeffectivenesstool/ – This Reading Effectiveness Tool will tell you what reading level you are WRITING at, which is useful if you want to see if your manuscript is the right level for your intended audience.
http://www.readingsoft.com – Check the speed at which you read, as well as your comprehension, by reading a timed passage and then answering a series of questions about the text you have just read.
In their 2003 book, Assessment for Reading Instruction, Michael C. McKenna and Steven A. Stahl say: “One of the most popular graded words lists in the public domain is the San Diego Quick Assessment (SDQA).” Research has confirmed that the SDQA provides a fairly accurate estimate of a child’s ability to read grade-level material. Originally devised by Margaret La Pray and Ramon Ross and published in the Journal of Reading in 1969, SDQA is a simple 10-minute test for grades K-11 using a list of words categorized by grade level. The words were drawn at random from the glossaries of basic readers and from the 1931 Teacher’s Word Book of 20,000 Words by E. L. Thorndike.
Here are some PDF links for the SDQA:
Here is a Word doc that has the student word cards to cut out: http://www.public.asu.edu/~diann/Resources/Buddies/Assessments/San Diego Quick Assessment.doc