How Fast Did You Read in Kindergarten?

 Raising the stakes on what kids can do. (Screenshot link to graphic.)

For instance, pre Common Core a 1st grader was expected to read 40-64 words per minute. Under the Common Core, they are now expected to read 69+ words per minute.

Common Core has been attacked as developmentally inappropriate for K-2.  I've read the evidence and I agree. 

From the blog, Lace to the Top:

Common Core continues to place greater demands on our youngest students with little to no regard to years of research on child development.

For example, take the Fountas and Pinnell research based guiding reading levels that have stood the test of time. They spent years creating a system that matched students with just right books. They even warned, “…through detailed coding of thousands of readings, showed that when a text is too difficult for the child the process breaks down and the child does not develop inner control of effective actions for processing texts.”

When Common Core was introduced, Fountas and Pinnell decided it was time to put research aside and go against their own advice in order create more rigorous thresholds for their guided reading levels.

About DIBELS (tied to Rupert Murdoch his Wireless Generation company) and Common Core.

To answer my own question - I wasn't reading in kindergarten and not a single adult in my life worried about it.  


cmj said…
Sigh. I'm a believer in having standards and making sure that kids don't fall behind -- especially in reading -- but kids develop at very different rates during K-2. Some children read early. Some read late. If a child can't reliably sound out words by the time they finish first grade, I'd be concerned. If they're not reading independently by third grade, I'd be concerned. Kids who don't read independently by third grade rarely catch up. But kindergarten? Really?

Personally, I was a late reader. Didn't read at all during kindergarten.
Anonymous said…
I think it is interesting that Einstein and also Bill Gates would have been told they were not college material based on their 2nd grade assessments from current tests.

Why are we trying to tell elementary kids and their parents to give up while still in grades, K-5?

I am infuriated that we are trying to discourage elementary students. If that is the accepted norm., how sad are we?

Anonymous said…
Very much agree that the goal of fluent reading in K is misplaced.

But here's the thing...

More and more middle class kids are coming into K reading. As a matter of fact, many readers on this blog use their child's early reading as evidence (!) of giftedness and as a reason they needed to be separated from their peers. (Early reading is not evidence of giftedness, by the way).

So what's a system to do? Those who are not in a reading enriched environment are now playing catch-up in K in more ways than one.

I see the Common Core as the cliched tail wagging the dog here. Unless you're into Waldorf, most middle class kids are now already reading by the end of K. It's a badge of honor since the 90s.

--enough already
I would need to hear from kindergarten teachers on most middle class kids reading by the end of K.
Anonymous said…
Is this a problem with Common Core or is this a problem with vendors/publishers or both? I'm not sure this one example is a Common Core issue. I'm pretty sure that CC doesn't delineate WPM at first grade (but I could be wrong).

This reminds me of those letters, videos, etc. that go viral on Facebook, blogs, etc. about ridiculous Common Core math homework that turns out to not be about Common Core at all but rather really poorly-written textbooks (often pre-dating Common Core).

If this is about Common Core inappropriately driving curricular materials, that's one thing. But if this is about vendors/publishers pushing bogus alignment to Common Core and writing poor materials, that's another thing.

It puts a lot of onus on curriculum reviewers to (1) know the Common Core standards (or their own state standards) and (2) be able to tell the difference between well-written curricular materials and poor-written ones.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
I'm a teacher and work with early primary and K. You are hearing from one.

I didn't say "most". I did say more and more middle class children are reading in K and it seemed to start in the 90s. My guess would be that this resulted from the fact that all day Ks became the norm at that time and so did the push for reading with your child at home (and in utero).

swk, Common Core definitely has increased expectations about reading for K. I'm not sure about WPM for first grade.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
Rereading what you wrote:

Yes, more and more are middle class kids are coming into K reading, others who aren't are learning to read in K, and I would say that most middle class kids are reading by the end of K.

--enough already
Anecdote said…
A family member is in K and there is increasing pressure for children to read. The parents are questioning whether or not they were under such pressure in K.

The parents are starting to feel concerned that their child is not reading. There is no reason to believe this child has a problem.

The child is social and parents are starting to feel concerned that their "social" child has problem because he is social.

Enough, I did not know you were a K teacher. You said this:

"..most middle class kids are now already reading by the end of K. It's a badge of honor since the 90s.

Also, it's not if a kindergartener reads, it's how fast (at least according to the article).

This is very specifically about Common Core. In the past, I linked to articles where many early childhood experts say that CC for K-2 is developmentally inappropriate. To my knowledge, there were no early childhood experts consulted on these standards.

Anonymous said…
Funny, my son could not read at all until 3rd grade.By 7th grade he read at a 16.6 grade level and measured in the 99 percentile in comprehension.

Go figure

Anonymous said…
My kids went to Waldorf schools and there were some kids reading in Kindergarten but not because they were taught but because they picked it up on their own while their parents read to them. Others didn't learn their letters until first grade and didn't really read until 2nd grade. By third grade, most were reading very long chapter books and it was hard to find age appropriate chapter books that were challenging enough. There were some who still struggled with reading in 3rd grade but most of them had other issues like dyslexia or a bad teacher.

I really worry about these kids who are pressured to perform so early in life. I don't think it does them any favors.

Anonymous said…
Melissa, it very well may be about Common Core, but the blog post you linked to is about DIBELS and its delineation of "how fast," i.e., words per minute (WPM). I don't think Common Core addresses WPM, as I think enough already confirmed.

And I would agree that Common Core very likely significantly raises expectations at K-2 as it does at all grade levels. If the K-12 overall outcome is college readiness, a vertical grade-level alignment to that outcome would significantly raise expectations at all grade levels since no state standards prior to the Common Core had a final outcome of college readiness.

--- swk
Anonymous said…

I don't doubt what you're saying, but I want to understand how reading in K has become the new norm. Parents and caregivers formally teaching or screen time/device?

I ask because if a child is pushed or encouraged to read by K, what do they bypass developmentally in the process? I know there are children who learn on their own or learn at 3-5, but there are many more who don’t. I think the top of the range is grade 3. If it's not happening by 3, intervention is often needed. Do you see this changing?

The brain of a child can be on multiple tracks, including multiple language tracks. My older daughter was learning Japanese in 2nd grade. She preferred learning Kanji over reading English, and for this her English teacher at JSIS asked us to have her repeat 2nd grade. (This is your low-income example of reading readiness. Our income wasn't high but we read to our children from birth. No pressure or screen time and flash cards.)

What happens when you push kids of all income ranks that might have other development tracks going on that are normal for them.

As I said, I have previously linked to articles challenging the developmental appropriateness of CC for K-2. That DIBELS has decided to change what they are doing is significant.

That we are saying kindergarteners should all be reading is astonishing to me.

But then again, maybe I'm old school in thinking kids develop skills at different rates and no one should be left behind or pressured at 5 years old.
Anonymous said…
From what I've heard, CCSS started with what needed to be learned by the end of high school in order to succeed in college, and worked backward to determine what needed to be learned at what grade to meet that goal. Problem is, that approach doesn't take into account developmental stages and uneven mastery nor uneven (but normal) progress through developmental stages.

I have worked with many low performing/at-risk students K-5. I hate the high expectations and the pressure on students (and parents) that NCLB and now CCSS have created. However, the students who struggle in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade are by and large the same ones who struggled in K, 1st and 2nd. I'm not sure what to make of it, but my experience does indicate that you know from K who the students that need extra support are.

Anonymous said…
Melissa, I agree with you regarding development.

But without any high-stakes assessments for K-2, why can't we just use the K-2 standards as guidelines and not put ANY pressure on 5 year olds or leave any behind?

--- swk
Anonymous said…
"Very mcuh agree that the goal of fluent reading in K is misplaced"

That is what I wrote and believe. Everything else I stated was my experience with the topic and my opinion as to why we have gotten to this point.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
"my experience does indicate that you know from K who the students that need extra support are."

It's called "Child Find"

Schools are required to locate, identify and evaluate all children with disabilities from birth through age 21. The Child Find mandate applies to all children who reside within a State, including children who attend private schools and public schools, highly mobile children, migrant children, homeless children, and children who are wards of the state. (20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(3))

This includes all children who are suspected of having a disability, including children who receive passing grades and are "advancing from grade to grade." (34 CFR 300.111(c)) The law does not require children to be "labeled" or classified by their disability. (20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(3)(B); 34 CFR 300.111(d)).

SPS pushes K teachers not to recommend the SIT process.

Student Intervention Team Process

The referring teacher completes and submits the initial referral form to the SIT chairperson. A designated consultant (DC) is assigned.
The referring teacher consults with the DC to complete the Student Intervention Team Body of Evidence forms, gather supporting data, and refine the problem definition in preparation for the SIT meeting.
Conduct the Student Intervention Team meeting (see details below). Create an intervention and progress monitoring plan.
The DC and referring teacher meet to examine student progress monitoring data and analyze student response to instruction.
Conduct Follow-up SIT meeting six to nine weeks from the initial SIT meeting.
Conduct consequent Follow-Up meetings as needed.

25% of the student population has Dyslexia studies show that intervention before 3rd grade greatly increases the success rate of students with the SLD called dyslexia.

Another opinion said…
Based on materials I've read and my own experience, brain development and reading skills occur over a range of months/years but generally are considered to be strongly in place at seven or eight. Early readers are often sight readers and do more poorly in the areas of phoneme awareness and phonics skills. The brain is a phenomenal memory machine.

Also, while normal reading achievement takes place over a range of years, disabled readers - children at risk for dyslexia (a range of language disorders) have to be identified much earlier - PreK or K to be successfully taught. There are many signs that trained K teachers can use to identify those children but many K teachers have not been trained to identify those cues.

I'm no expert although a teacher of early primary myself and I am pretty well-read on the subject. The District has very poorly addressed the problems of struggling readers. I spent several weeks learning to identify and address dyslexia at the Hamlin Robinson school a long time ago. It was eye opening.

We really need to do better.

I agree that the common core is not developmentally appropriate. I believe common core asks too much of very young minds. I want my kids to love school and learn. Common core increases the rigor of learning by decreasing the time to do engaging activities such as science and social studies. Middle school and high school are places where students have the maturity to invest more effort to the rigor of learning and using critical thinking skills. At elementary, we are asking too much of immature minds. I see children bored and hating school who used to love coming to school. They're just not ready for the rigor yet.
Another opinion said…
Wow, Michael. When I started teaching, the number was 10%. What's going on?

At my school, K kids do get SIT meetings. But they take forever and yield little upon completion. If I know parents have the means to go outside the district for help, I suggest that they do it.
Anonymous said…
The rates range from 15-25% depending on the identified main driver of the disability in each of the respected studies. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)* found that approximately 38% of fourth grade students have "below basic" reading skills. These students are below the 40th percentile (performing below the other 60% of their peers) and are at greater than 50% chance of failing the high-stakes, year-end school achievement tests.

Even if we use the 10% figure. That would mean that SPS having 52,000 students should have 5,200 students with an IEP for SLD. The numbers I've seen thru various SPS documents has the numbers at 2,900 for SLD students with IEPs. If we use a modest 15% rate that's 7,800 students almost the current SPED population.

60% of the current SPED students qualify in other areas or with a combination of SLD and one or more other qualifying diagnosis.

It would seem there's a very large population of students not identified that should be receiving services and using scientifically proven methodologies and curriculum.

SPS uses readers and writers workshop, probably the worst curriculum EVER for dyslexic students.


Anonymous said…
Did anyone actually READ the linked image?

The sheet labeled "pre-common core" shows an end of the year goal of 69 words per minute and above. However, the row headings are cutoff, so I (and everyone else) has no way of knowing what this corresponds to.

The sheet labeled "common core" shows a goal of 65+ words per minute on oral reading fluency at the end of first grade.

So please tell me what we are up in arms about again??

Oh, also note that if you read through the common core standards there are no specific word per minute goals on fluency. I'd suggest actually reading the standards, because it is obvious the authors of this blog have not.

Anonymous said…

The school I work at does support students at risk from K on. I was commenting on whether or not not reading in K indicated a student at risk of struggling. And, in my experience, it does.

Anonymous said…
I am curious. What specific Common Core Standards are developmentally appropriate?

Anonymous said…
Sorry meant to ask... What Common Core Standards are developmentally inappropriate.

cmj said…
enough already wrote Early reading is not evidence of giftedness, by the way. Amen.

DIBELS Next, which is the standard shown in the screenshot, is described as "aligned with the Common Core." A lot of districts use DIBELS Next. It's been criticized for encouraging a "teach-to-the-test" atmosphere.

If we look at the right-most chart in the screenshot, DIBELS Next expects children to be reading 25+ nonsense words fluently per minute (details on that test here). Nonsense word fluency means being able to fluently sound out nonsensical (but presumably simply) words like "pov", "dag", "mer", etc. If the child can't reading 25+/nonsense words by the end of kindergarten (or possibly by the beginning of the third trimester -- the chart's not clear), they're consider "high risk" or "moderate risk" and assigned extra tutoring.

Michael brings up a good point: for students with learning disabilities, early intervention is key. Kids who are struggling with reading in K-2 should automatically get tested for reading-related disabilities.

Tutoring is generally helpful, but it can also convince a child to give up because they think they're stupid. So I think we need to balance the risk between the benefit of tutoring and the potential risk of convincing the kid they're stupid. Obviously, if a child can't sound out basic three-letter words by the end of second grade, the benefits outweigh any risk. The child already knows that s/he can't read and others children in the class can. If the child can't sound out the same words by the end of kindergarten, I'm not so sure. Until about third grade, IMHO, children tend to learn to read at different rates.
Lynn said…
To answer the question, I wasn't reading at all in K. I didn't go to kindergarten and read in first grade. (On a side note - remember how exciting it was when you learned? It was thrilling for me.) One of my kids started K not reading at all and became a fluent reader by the end of the year. Another was a self-taught reader before K.

At the private school they started out in, parents were told not to worry if a child wasn't reading until the end of first grade. If not reading then, they were required to repeat first.
Watching said…
Dr. Megan Koschnick is a child psychologist. She does a good job discussing Common Core, cognitive development, Piaget etc.

Koschnick believes Common Core is developmentally inappropriate for young children.

It is worth spending 20 minutes listening to her video.
Anonymous said…
I started reading in 2nd grade. I went to a strict Montessori until then and had no interest in non-fiction. When I transferred to public school I immediately got a tutor for reading.

My kids started really reading in 1st and K.

Anonymous said…
I was an early reader, my kids were not. Both were slightly 'below expectations' through third grade. In 4th it kicked in for both of them and they went from 'behind' to 'exceeding' grade level in a few short months.

Did I worry in K-3? No. 1--I had been reading to them since birth and surrounded them with books. 2-- I could see they could read and decode, just not speedily. So learning disabilities didn't seem applicable. 3-- Both my kids went through periods of complete disinterest in the reading subject matter in school and when you're 6-8 and bored by a subject you're not going to force yourself through it 4-- The many educators in my family said today's forced proficiency in reading in the earliest grades is bunk. Kids have a wide range of normal for conquering reading and basic math. Forcing the issue turns kids off to learning for always.

I ignored the well meaning principal with the reading proficiency spreadsheets and kept on with giving my kids things they might enjoy reading.

I worry about families who don't have the will or means to offer reading at home. I worry about kids who have a reading disability. The rest of the pressure is just that - pressure and one more ridiculous thing for families to worry about when there are longer term needs in school support k-12 IMHO.

Anonymous said…
We are suffering from the pressure of the new standards w/ our now 1st grader. She entered K below grade level- that is on us, we thought the daycare preschool program was enough. Midway through K, we got a phone call about the teacher's concerns regarding the gap in her skill levels (none of which was mentioned during the Parent/Teacher conference in Nov). Rather than identification for help, she was identified for retention. At SIT meeting one in May of last year, her teacher stated that my daughter's performance was not the result of an underlying IEP issue, but simoly because she was one of the younger students in her grade. I did my best to advocate for my kid, knowing, as a teacher and a parent, that most skill "gaps" tend to even out by third grade. But the teacher shook her head, because it was the "new standards" that gave her cause to make the recommendation to hold our child back. "It's not like it was a few years ago. These kids are supposed to be readers by the end of Kindergarten." After much haggling, we decided to wait and see what happens in 1st grade. Since then, we have pushed, pulled, and dragged our daughter through reading and math at home. (What a miserable summer!) We have since put her in tutoring as well, helping her move from a year behind her peers to 4 months behind. But those "standards" are still flagging her for retention, and not school based intervention. The only intervention is happening at home. We go to SIT meeting two next week.
I find the entire situation inhumane. Our sweet daughter hates school because of how it makes her feel about herself. The more I read about how inappropriate the early learning standards are for k-2, the more I resent the fact that this is happening to our family. We are white, middle class educators who don't give a darn about the early reader 'badge of honor' as much as want our kids to love learning. Our kids will learn to read because we read all the time. We don't need them to test in to APP to feel like we are good parents. But we do need to trust that other teachers won't lose their minds and throw out what they know is true about how young brains develop because they fear what low scores might do to their evaluation ratings.
-sad mom
Anonymous said…
Looking at that chart comparison, our daughter was and is just fine. Even more infuriating knowing how the new standards have harmed our child.
-sadder mom
GreyWatch said…
hang tough sad and sadder mom.

although it was before common core was in the mix, we had a similar situation. bright kid who was "under performing". In K. we couldn't believe they were seriously talking about our 5 year old in those terms, but guess we were naive. And that was back before kids that age were tested.

Everyone is different, and no answers work for all. For us, opting out of the system for a few years helped, but I know that isn't an option for all.

Trust your gut and know your kid will be OK if that is the message you give them.
Old Mom said…
Sad mom makes a good point. Some children do not start school until they are six and others barely turn five. There can be nearly a one year age difference in one grade.

My child was amongst one of the youngest and I'd always noticed age differences. No doubt, the older children seemed to have an advantage.
Another opinion said…
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Yes, generally older kids do have the edge. More maturity tends to give kids that leadership advantage. I think parents with children who have very late birthdays might consider waiting a year . . . esp. boys.

I'm sure there are a lot of exceptions to the rule. Just a generality folks.

Anonymous said…
How does a child enter K below grade level? Ack. What are they expected to know on the first day of K? We sang the alphabet, practiced counting, and made sure our child could write at least a first name. And we read aloud a lot. Were we supposed to do more?

Our child wasn't reading at the beginning of K and was still learning letters. Independent reading happened through a combination of practice at home (BOB books from the library were a favorite) and a K teacher that explicitly taught phonics. Each child had an alphabet book they used for seat work each morning - "A - a - apple, B - buh - ball," etc. This probably went against district practice at the time (whole word recognition vs phonics). We are so thankful for that teacher.

When I volunteered in my child's 1st grade classroom (helping with reading), there was a broad range of reading levels and it seemed perfectly normal.

Our child was also one of the youngest in the class and we've asked our child (now older) if it's been okay being the youngest. Our child is glad we didn't hold back a year ("I'd be so bored!"). I don't think I'd let a teacher pressure us into such a change unless we also strongly felt it was the right placement.

Hang in there.

-saddened too
Josh Hayes said…
Absurd. My sister taught me to read when I was 4, from National Geographics we had lying around the house. Strangely, I have not accumulated the expected collection of Nobel, Pulitzer, and Man Booker awards.

On the other side of the coin, my son COULD read, but didn't much, until about the end of second grade. He's finishing up his IB diploma this year. His first and second grade teacher, bless her, said, "don't worry about him. He's fine." Maybe this is just how it was back then (ten years ago), or maybe it was because we were at AS1 (which never met an imposed standard it liked).

I find the idea that a kid could enter kindergarten BELOW GRADE LEVEL shocking. Reading by the end of kindergarten? Absurd. Fine if it happens, but REQUIRING it to? That's bad craziness.
Josh Hayes said…
I can just see it now, ten years into the future....

TEACHER: We're going to have to hold Johnny back. He's just not ready for first grade next year.

PARENT: [bewildered] I don't understand. Johnny reads at college level!

TEACHER: [condescending] Well, sure he does -- in English. As you know, kindergarteners are now required to read at the college level in four different languages to advance to first grade. Have you considered hiring him out as a house-cleaner? It's never too soon to accept his role in the hoi polloi -- that's GREEK, by the way.

[PARENT leaves, crestfallen.]
Patrick said…
As usual, Josh puts it very well.

I learned to read in the summer between K and 1st, transitioning from ABC books to Huck Finn in a few weeks. I'm glad my kindergarten teacher didn't think I should be held back because I wasn't reading by the end of the year.
Anny said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anny said…
I'm not a huge Common Core fan for primary, but this change had little to do with Common Core. As literacy research evolves, so will recommendations. The first norms for DIBELS were based on a very small sample size. The new norms are based on a much larger sample and are more representative of the US's population.

Note, that under the new standards for DIBEL, Kindergarteners are still not expected to read passages, only name letter sounds, break words into syllables (clapping), name letters, and "sound out" simple nonsense words like "bim", "ub", "zug" by the end of the year.

UO has been a leader in early literacy research; for them to change the benchmarks is a big deal which I believe is based on sound research.
Anonymous said…
At this point, I am somewhat confused on whether my son is perceived as meeting or below expectations. He's 5, in kindergarten, and can read Bob books, although he is not a very fast reader. I was reading shortly before I turned 3 and my husband wasn't reading fluently until third grade. Yet both of us ended up in the 'gifted' programs in our respective school districts. So what should the typical Seattle kindergartner be able to read at the end of the year? My son has an early summer birthday and I am starting to think we should have waited to start kindergarten until he was 6. Unfortunately, I'm already getting the impression that his teacher doesn't think he is particularly bright since he isn't reading as well as some of his classmates.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said:

"I was reading shortly before I turned 3 and my husband wasn't reading fluently until third grade."

This is the thing that keeps jumping out at me. My information is all anecdotal -- but I know too many kids (mostly boys) who didn't read until 8 or 9 and then suddenly went from pre-reading to reading chapter books in a matter of weeks or a few months. It's like the entire apparatus was silently built -- and then suddenly someone dropped in the last piece to hook up the electricity and all the lights came on at once.

It is too easy for people who are not experts in child neurological development (that would be MOST of us) to "short cut" to a test that simply does not accurately tell us what is really going on. A child who learns to read swiftly, but late -- and then reads better than his/her peers simply because that is how the child's brain is built cannot credibly be said to have ever been "behind" (if concepts like "ahead" and "behind" said anything accurate.

But I also know from experience that if you demand that a child perform a task when the child is not physically or neurologically ready to (reading, riding a bike, handwriting, speaking without a lisp, -- you name it), you can do a LOT of long term damage to motivation, love of learning, self worth, etc.

I believe that our betters, in future years, will look back on all this as a really horrible medieval experiment -- and we will be hard pressed to explain WHAT the "educators" were thinking!

Anonymous said…
So glad there are new disabilities that can be still be discovered: July-Birthday, Went-to-Waldorf, Poor, Refugee, Didn't-Read-Before-K, Don't-Like-Reading-At-All, Screen-Addict.

Gee. Good thing we have special ed for all the kids who aren't in APP, or IBB, or HCC.


Jon said…
To help make learning to read fun and engaging, our reading program includes lesson stories that are matched to the progress of your child's reading abilities.

These lessons stories are part of the learning program, and comes with colorful illustrations to make learning reading fun and engaging for you and your child.

These are the exact same stories and step-by-step lessons that we used to teach our own children to read!

Find out here: Teach Your Child To Read?

Best rgs

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