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Checkpoints in Reading

The Council for Educational Development and Research created this list of checkpoints in reading---for Kindergarten and grades 3, 6, 9, and 12---to help parents better understand their childs reading development.

Not intended as an item-specific recipe for every child, this list of reading checkpoints developed by the Council for Educational Development and Research highlights some of the reading skills children develop naturally. Teachers and parents can refer to these checkpoints as general guidelines for observing, discussing, and evaluating childrens reading progress. The lists are broken down by grade level.


Which grade-level checklist are you interested in reading ?


The child knows that print carries meaning by:

Turning pages in a storybook to find out what happens next
Writing (could be scribbling or using invented spelling) to communicate a message
Using the language and voice of stories when narrating his/her own stories
Dictating stories

The child knows what written language looks like by:

Recognizing that words are made up of combinations of letters
Identifying specific letters in unfamiliar words
Writing with mock letters or writing that includes features of real letters

The child can identify and name letters of the alphabet by:

Saying the alphabet
Pointing out letters of the alphabet in a text

The child knows that letters are associated with sound by:

Naming all the objects in a room that begin with the same letter
Pointing to words in a text that begin with the same letter
Picking out words that rhyme
Trying to sound out new or unfamiliar words while reading out loud

The child knows using words can serve various purposes by:

Pointing to signs that indicate specific places, such as a play area, a restaurant, or a store
Writing for different purposes, such as writing a (pretend) grocery list, writing a thank-you letter, or writing a menu for play

The child knows how books work by:

Holding the book right side up
Reading from left to right and top to bottom
Beginning reading at the front of the book and moving sequentially to the back

The child can link text to previous learning by:

Engaging in conversation about what he or she has read
Identifying events or characters that are similar and/or different in two stories

The child understands what he or she read by:

Talking about the story
Telling how something in the story is like something in his or her own life or experience

The child enjoys reading by

Wanting to be read to
Wanting to get books from the library to read
Showing off new reading skills by reading things in the surroundings like road signs

Grade 3

The child improves his/her comprehension while reading a variety of simple texts by:

Thinking about what he/she already knows
Asking and answering questions while reading
Creating and changing mental pictures
Making, confirming, and revising predictions
Rereading when confused

The child applies word-analysis skills while reading by:

Using phonic and simple word context clues to figure out unknown words
Using word parts (e.g., root words, prefixes, suffixes, similar words) to figure out unfamiliar words

The child understands elements of literature (e.g., author, main character, setting) by:

Coming to a conclusion about events, characters, and settings in stories
Comparing settings, characters, and events in different stories
Explaining reasons for characters acting the way they do in stories

The child understands the characteristics of various simple genres (e.g., fables, realistic fiction, folk tales, poetry, humorous stories) by:

Explaining the differences among simple genres
Writing stories that contain the characteristics of a selected genre

The child used correct and appropriate conventions of language when responding to written text by:

Spelling common high-frequency words correctly
Using capital letters, commas, and end punctuation correctly
Writing legibly in print and/or cursive
Using appropriate and varied word choice
Using complete sentences

Grade 6

The student uses strategies to figure out unfamiliar words by:

Sounding out new words when reading aloud
Using context clues such as looking at the whole sentence and surrounding sentences
Using phonics clues and his/her knowledge of word origins and derivations
Using reference materials and/or expert sources

The student can read a variety of texts by:

Reading social studies, math, and science textbooks
Reading the local newspaper and popular magazines

The student can summarize information from what he/she has read by:

Saying what a book, story, or article is about in one or two sentences
Picking out the main idea and supporting details

The student demonstrates an ability to read critically by:

Explaining what happened in a book or story, what makes the main characters tick, and the authors reason for writing it
Using information in a book to draw conclusions about its characters, events, or settings

The student continues to enjoy reading by

Checking out books from the school or local library to read for fun
Reading magazines and newspapers out of interest

The student uses strategies while reading a variety of texts (e.g., fiction, nonfiction, poetry, content-area texts) that directly improve his/her comprehension by:

Trying to read a difficult section again to help understanding
Connecting new information to previous learning or real-life experiences
Identifying questions to be asked and answered while reading
Making, confirming, and revising predictions as needed
Consciously creating and changing mental pictures to increase comprehension of the text
Drawing conclusions and making inferences based on explicit and implicit information
Rereading or discussing the confusing parts with others to clear up any confusion

The student demonstrates understanding of how the elements and characteristics of literature interact by:

Distinguishing whether an author is writing in the first or third person
Explaining how the actions of the characters, the setting, and plot development support the story line
Discussing any recurring themes that may exist from one piece of literature

The student uses correct and appropriate conventions of language when responding to written text by:

Having no significant errors in spelling and grammar
Writing legibly in cursive
Using a variety of sentence structures and vocabulary which facilitate understanding and enhance his/her message
Providing significant detail to his/her response to support the main ideas being presented

Grade 9

The student can use decoding and comprehension strategies to get information from a wide range of materials by:

Reading and understanding school textbooks
Reading and understanding classic novels like Great Expectations and To Kill a Mockingbird
Reading and understanding general audience magazines like Time, Newsweek, Discover, and Psychology Today

The student demonstrates reading comprehension by:

Explaining a characters traits, motivation, and actions in the story
Explaining the theme, message, or moral of a book or story
Explaining how the authors style and word choice affect the reader and contribute to the story
Comparing one books style and message to anothers

The student can summarize and combine information from different sources by:

Writing reports blending information from newspapers, magazines, and journals

The student can read and create charts and graphs by:

Reading and following bus schedules and maps
Making graphs from information like test grades or daily high and low temperatures

The student can find information in print and through electronic references by

Looking up information in encyclopedias, both print and CD-ROM
Using the online card catalog at the library to find books
Using the Readers Guide to Periodicals to find information

The student continues to enjoy reading by:

Checking out books from school or the local library to read for fun
Reading magazines and newspapers out of interest

Grade 12

The student reads to build knowledge and skills by:

Reading a wide variety of texts on a wide variety of subjects
Conducting research on issues of personal interest and asking questions as he/she ponders the issues
Making connections between new information and his/her own personal experiences

The student reads with understanding and fluency by:

Summarizing a text
Converting or manipulating the information to fit other learning situations
Drawing conclusions from evidence in the text
Identifying and analyzing new terminology

The student reads to understand and solve problems by:

Discovering new, existing, or different relationships among texts and across disciplines
Organizing information to understand it
Using inductive and deductive reasoning

The student analyzes what has been read and judges the merit of the information by:

Identifying inconsistencies in the text, examples of biases in writing, and support for arguments
Evaluating texts for purpose, structure, content, detail, and effect
Identifying literary devices used and their effects on the message
Identifying themes and tying them in to the effectiveness (or lack of) of the text

The student demonstrates aesthetic appreciation of reading materials by:

Commenting on the language, including the rhythm and rhyme of the text
Explaining why he/she likes the characters, interesting situations, or plots
Critically evaluating texts in regard to their plot, themes, character traits, motives, and the effect of the setting on the characters and plot
Using his/her imagination to create personal texts in the same genre
Extending the reading experience through such activities as dramatic readings

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World ® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 2004 Education World