How Is Curriculum Grade Leveled?

The process of leveling any curriculum usually starts with the help of experts in each of the fields of disciplines. The experts are most likely academics and tied to a major university, but can often be educational consultants that have boundless experience. The experts recommend a general framework of what should be touched on at every progression of school strata (primary, elementary, and secondary).

From there curriculum writer's take the framework and build a list of skills and goals students should work to master. They build a scope and sequence chart that aligns all the progressions together. This is usually done at the State or school system level. Individual classroom teachers (depending on the State) or curriculum specialists begin to flesh out from the exact individual goals for students. From here curriculum support companies begin to write instructional materials to help support classroom teachers towards these goals.

There are four primary means of leveling reading material. The Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) which bases most of it score on accuracy leading to fluency and overall comprehension. The Fountas and Pinnell readability scale focuses a bit more on length, complexity, and vocabulary repetition. The Grade Level Equivalent system, which we tend to lean towards, bases their system on expected skills of students for each level. One of the more popular scales is the Lexile measure which scores material based on difficulty level. While we are on the topic of leveling English language arts materials, there are some things teachers and administrators need to take into account or read into when using materials that are leveled. Every work is unique and sometimes a series of vocabulary words used can make it jump or fall grade levels. This happens often with the use of scientific or content specific jargon. It is tough for a reader to jump up the scale too quick. There are some educators that try to push students up the levels too fast and this hurts the student’s self confidence which affects their overall impression on reading. This can have lasting affects through their youth through adulthood.