Reading Rubrics by Grade Level for Each Reading Component

About these Reading Rubrics

Each rubric represents a continuum of skills, leading to grade-level proficiency. Grade-level proficiency represents information from a variety of states’ content standards, including the Common Core standards. You might not find a one-to-one correspondence with your particular standards or curriculum. However, if students can perform the actions represented here as “grade level expectations,” they will become strong, proficient readers over time.

The Rubrics are available below. You can view and download them as PDF files.

How to Use the Reading Rubrics

These rubrics help you understand “next steps” learning. They ensure that your students have the foundation skill necessary to learn more complex skills. In this way, these rubrics will help you with lesson planning. The indicators for each are skill-based, not knowledge based (e.g., “the student will learn/know…”) or conceptual (e.g., “the student will understand…”). The indicators are specific student actions that you can observe.

As you work with students, pay attention to what you see them do. Then, decide which level they can perform all the behaviors. Does the student demonstrate all the skills for level 1? If so, look at level 2. Does the student demonstrate all the skills for level 2? If so, look at level 3. The student’s reading level is the highest level at which he or she can consistently perform all the listed skills.

When you determine what level a student has mastered, your role is to develop instructional opportunities that will help students perform the skills in the next level. For example, if a student can consistently perform all the actions in level 2 but not level 3, you will provide instruction to help the student perform the skills in level 3.

You may wish to use a form to keep track of students’ levels and what they need to learn next. Download a sample form

How Not to Use the Reading Rubrics

Of course we want every student to read on or above grade level. Unfortunately, many students are not ready to begin learning grade-level skills. They do not have the background knowledge or foundational skills to learn grade-level skills.

As you look at these rubrics, do not focus only on the grade-level skills (level 4) and provide instruction of those skills. If the students are not ready for them, they cannot learn them or will not be able to demonstrate them consistently in the long term. You have to pay attention to the developmental stages (levels 0 – 3), as well.

The Reading Levels

Each grade level and each reading component has 6 levels in these rubrics: level 0 through level 6.

  • Level 0: the student has no ability in that reading component or is significantly behind reading ability.
  • Levels 1–3: the student is making progress towards grade-level proficiency
  • Level 4: the student is on grade level; the specific items in bold face are the essential grade-level skills for that reading component
  • Level 5: the student has exceeded grade-level expectations for that reading component; use the next higher rubrics to determine next steps for learning

Indicators in level 4 are the grade-level skills. Indicators in level 4 that are depicted in bold face type are the essential skills for a particular grade level. Any student who can demonstrate all level 4 skills is on grade level for that reading component area.

A Few FAQs

  1. What If a Student is Below Level 0 for a grade level or specific reading component?

For kindergarten, level 0 means “no ability,” so there is nothing below level 0. For students in grades 1–8, however, it is possible to be below level 0. If you have a student in this situation, get a copy of the rubrics for the next grade group down. For example, if a 4th grade student cannot perform level 0 for a certain reading component, use the rubrics for grades 2–3. But keep the “correct” grade-level rubrics on hand: students will eventually be ready to perform the skills described by that rubric.

  1. What If a Student is Above Level 5 for a grade level or specific reading component?

First, that’s great! Second, that does not mean that you no longer need to provide instruction in that reading component. If the student can learn more, your job is to help him or her do it. Take a look at the rubrics for the next higher grade group and find the next level for learning.

  1. Are the rubrics sequential across grade levels? Does level 5 for one grade level correspond to level 0 for the next grade level?

No. Instead, they are overlapping. This reflects the fact that students in a grade level may be far behind (or above) expectations. Because they are overlapping, the rubrics will provide anticipated development for students in various grade levels. The rubrics are organized like this:

develop a reading rubric
Overlapping nature of the Reading Rubrics

As a result, a student who can perform the grade-level skills for one rubric will not be at level 0 for the next higher rubric, though he or she might also not be ready to learn the grade-level skills represented on the next higher level rubric. As noted before, observe the student and determine what level the student has mastered, and then provide instruction to help the student master the next level.

The Grade Level Reading Rubrics

(PDF files: these will open in a new window)

About These Rubrics

Sample Rubric Progress Tracking Form

Kindergarten Reading Rubrics

First Grade Reading Rubrics

Second Grade Reading Rubrics

Third Grade Reading Rubrics

Fourth Grade Reading Rubrics

Fifth Grade Reading Rubrics

Sixth Grade Reading Rubrics

Seventh Grade Reading Rubrics

Eighth Grade Reading Rubrics