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Home » Blog » Literacy » Quick Guide to Understanding Reading Levels

Quick Guide to Understanding Reading Levels

Comprehension, Fluency, Literacy

Written by: Mary Kate Bolinder

With so many different types of reading assessments and leveling systems, it can be hard to keep track of which books are just right for your growing readers. Let’s take a look at some of the reading level systems to get a better understanding of each, and how they can be useful in your literacy block and small group instruction planning.

Guided Reading Level

The Guided Reading Level was developed by reading experts Fountas & Pinnell. The levels are matched to grade level specific reading goals. In order to progress to the next level, students must display proficient use of strategic actions. Decoding, word acquisition, vocabulary growth, making predictions, connecting to text, recognizing text features, summarizing, inferring, and bringing personal experiences to comprehension passages are just a few of the components measured on the Guided Reading Level. For a more in-depth look at Guided Reading Levels, check out this link.

  • 1st Grade: E – J
  • 2nd Grade: K – N

Lexile Bands

Lexile Measure is a valuable evaluation tool. A Lexile measure evaluates the complexity of text, as well as students’ ability to read and comprehend the text. To find the Lexile Grade Level Charts for 1st and 2nd grade, click here.

1st Grade Lexile Bands
BOY – FallMOY – WinterEOY – Spring
10L-435L85L-505L165L – 570L
2nd Grade Lexile Bands
BOY – FallMOY – WinterEOY – Spring


The Diagnostic Reading Assessment is an assessment that is ideally administered twice a year. To determine a student’s DRA reading level, students are administered an individual assessment that measures skills of phonemic awareness, phonics, and fluency. There are also measurements for vocabulary, comprehension, and engagement. The better a student scores, the higher the number of their DRA level.

Expected DRA levels:

  • 1st Grade: 4 – 16
  • 2nd Grade: 16 – 24


The Accelerated Reader, or AR Level, is designed to match students with an appropriate level of text for independent reading. to Measure an AR text, three things are considered: average sentence length, average word length, and word difficulty level.

Expected AR Levels:

  • 1st Grade: 1.0-1.9
  • 2nd Grade: 2.0-2.9

Reading Levels and Lucky Little Learners Resources

Let’s take a closer look at a Lucky Little Learners 2nd Grade reading passage.

Download Reading Passages HERE

The reading comprehension passages are leveled using a Lexile band, but due to Lexile copyright, we cannot provide the exact level for each passage. The coding we use for each reading passage level is:

  • ⭐️Below Level/Star Passages: within the 300-500 band
  • ❤️On level/Heart Passages: within the 400-700 band
  • 🍏Above level/Apple passages: within the 600-800 band

When we design new products for 2nd grade that are leveled, we make sure they are within the CCSS recommended Lexile band for second grade (300-800).

Looking to compare the different reading level assessments? Take a look at this leveling chart.

Tools for Leveling Books

Are you searching for a “just right” book for a student? Check out Scholastic’s Book Wizard, where you can find the level of any book by simply typing the name or ISBN number. Voila! The Book Wizard generates the Grade Level, Guided Reading Level, Lexile Level, DRA Level, and ACR Level, all with the click of a button. If only organizing your classroom library was that easy! For tips on leveling and organizing a classroom library, check out this classroom library blog post.

More Digital Resources for Leveling Books:

Lexile Find a Book – from the Lexile

Level It Books App and QuickScan Book Leveler– these apps allow you to scan ISBN numbers with your phone’s camera, making library leveling a breeze!

Be sure to check out our reading comprehension passages in All Access.

Download Reading Passages HERE

2 Ways to Get Reading Passages

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1 Comment

  1. Jordan

    I would love to see some of the comprehension passages on a first grade Lexile band. For the last few years, I feel like my “on grade level“ 2nd graders do well with the below grade level passages. I am looking to find reading comprehension passages and questions for my “below grade level” students, for example first grade.


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