Elementary Reading Level Expectations

Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment for reading is…

  • given to all 1st - 6th grade students 3 times a year: fall/winter/spring
  • given to Kindergarten students 2 times a year: winter/spring
  • given one-on-one by your child’s classroom teacher or a reading teacher
  • used to help us know each child as a reader and provide them with just-right instruction in all areas of reading
  • our way of collecting school-wide data we will use for school improvement goals
  • used to assess the following: Comprehension (understanding), Accuracy (reading the words that are on the page), and Fluency (sounds good)


What does this test measure?

Comprehension: Understanding what is read—the most critical, and often misunderstood, aspect of reading. After the student reads aloud a portion (or all of) the text to the teacher, they have a conversation with the teacher about what they have read. There are three areas of comprehension questions addressed during this conversation. Within the Text Questions – This covers the literal (right there) meaning of the text and requires that the student can remember information from the text and summarize it. Beyond the Text Questions – This requires the reader to make predictions, connections to their life, and infer what is implied—but not stated in the text. About the Text Questions – The reader is asked to talk about how the text is written and organized and is asked to think about the text critically. They are often asked to talk about why the author or illustrator may have done something—or how they showed something with their words or pictures.


AccuracyWhile the students are reading aloud, the teacher is recording if they are getting the words right. For students to pass a level of the test they must have 90 or 95% of the words correct, depending on the assessment level they are taking. If a student misreads a word, but goes back and fixes it, it is called a self-correction and does not count as an error. Self-correcting shows that the student is paying attention to what looks right, sounds right, and makes sense as he reads. We love it when they do that!


FluencyWhile the students are reading aloud, the teacher is noticing how they sound as readers. Are they expressive, reading the punctuation, and grouping words together in phrases? Fluency is how the student interprets the meaning of the text with their voice.


Ask Questions if you have them… and give it a bit of time.

With the increased expectation that students not just talk about their reading, but use evidence from the text to support their thinking, students may have a decrease in their reading scores as we begin this process. It is not unusual to experience this dip when a new assessment is used. The best thing you can do to support your child/children at home is read to them and with them!  Please reach out to your child’s teacher or principal if you have any questions about this new assessment.

How do you interpret your child's reading levels?

The Reading Chart located below will guide you to understand if your child is reading at the expected level.  The chart contains the DRA levels, SRI levels and Fountas & Pinnell levels by grade and month. 

Elementary Reading Level Expectations Chart