Measuring Your Child’s Reading Skills

Parents of struggling readers can have an excruciatingly difficult time finding effective help for their children. Sandie Barrie Blackley, MA/CCC, co-founder of Lexercise, kicks off a four-part series for parents: “How Do I Know If My Child Is Making Progress..?” This is Part 2.


Do you wonder if your child’s reading skills are progressing?

Unfortunately, school report cards are not an accurate indication of your child’s reading skills. Grades may depend on how well your child performs on homework, how conscientious or lenient the teacher is, and other subjective measures. Mandatory testing in school may produce even more confusing results.

Testing by a qualified clinician is certainly the most accurate measure of your child’s reading skills, but there are simple tests you can do at home that will help you figure out if your child could use help.

Last week, we showed you how to test your child’s percentage of accuracy on a one-minute reading exercise. If you missed it, go back to check it out before completing the one below.

This week we’ll introduce another important measure: correct words per minute. This step is very easy.

What you’ll need for this test:

  • Your notes from last week with the results of your child’s percentage of accuracy test.

What you need to do:

  • On last week’s results you should have figures that show the number of words your child read in one minute (example, 50), the number of mistakes (example, 6), and the difference (50 – 6 = 44), which shows you the correct words per minute (CW/M).

This figure is important because if a child is a slow reader, it will take that child much longer to do homework, finish work in class, and comprehend the reading material. So we’re concerned not only with how accurately your child reads, but how fast. Children pick up speed as they become more skilled readers. By the end of the following grade levels, children can be expected to read within the ranges shown:

  • 1st grade: 40-60 CW/M

  • 2nd grade: 80-100 CW/M

  • 3rd grade: 100-120 CW/M

  • 4th grade & above: 120-180 CW/M

For a more detailed explanation of this procedure, see Sally Shaywitz, Overcoming Dyslexia, NY: Alfred A. Knopf (2003), pages 276-280.

If your child is reading toward the lower end of his or her grade range—or below—the child may need further assessment. If you would like to arrange for a professional evaluation or talk with a clinician, contact us today.

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Sandie Barrie Blackley, MA/CCC

MA/CCC - Cofounder and CKO

Sandie is a speech-language pathologist with more than 30 years of experience in the private practice sector. She is Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at University of North Carolina Greensboro, and founder/owner of the Language & Learning Clinic, PLLC, a private practice in Elkin, NC, and Greensboro, NC, specializing in communication disorders, including disorders of reading and written language.