Understanding Your Child's DRA Reading Level

Learn what a just-right reading level really means and understand how Developmental Reading Assessment testing works.

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The Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) is an individually administered assessment of a child’s reading capabilities. It is a tool to be used by instructors to identify a students reading level, accuracy, fluency, and comprehension. Once levels are identified, an instructor can use this information for instructional planning purposes. 

DRA Testing
The DRA test is traditionally administered on an annual or semi-annual basis. The test measures nine categories of reading behavior and six types of errors. It was developed in 1986 (and revised in both 2000 and 2003) by a committee of educators and is intended to evaluate certain aspects of your child’s reading level. 

How DRA Levels and Testing Work Together
Tasks measured by the DRA test are divided into several skill sets. Rhyming, alliteration, segmentation, and phonemic awareness are tested in the phonemic awareness section. Letter naming, word-list reading, spelling, decoding, analogies, structural analysis, and syllabication are tested in the alphabetic principle/phonics portions. Oral reading fluency or words per minute for contextual reading are tested under fluency. Vocabulary, comprehension, and reading engagement skills are also measured in the test.

After the test is evaluated and scored, your child is assigned a numeric (or alphanumeric for very early readers) DRA level A1 through 80. Children with stronger reading abilities yield higher numbers. Teachers are easily able to give children books they can read by choosing a text with the corresponding DRA level.  

How to Find Books on Your Child’s Level
Once your teacher gives you your child’s level, you can search for books at a particular DRA level on Scholastic’s Book Wizard. By providing your child with books on his level at home, you are ensuring reading advancement and success with materials that will not cause your child stress or discouragement. 

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