In August 1996, President Clinton invited every American to join his America Reads Challenge to help more children read well and independently by the end of the third grade. Checkpoints for Progress has been developed to help teachers and learning partners to identify (1) what most children can do in reading and writing by developmental periods--birth to thirty-six months, three and four years of age, and third, sixth, ninth, and twelfth grades--and (2) what most children can read, by grade level. Since most children's formal schooling begins with kindergarten, skills for that level are also included.
The checkpoints are grouped largely by three-year developmental periods because children of the same age and grade often grow and learn at different rates. Examples of reading levels by grade are provided within each developmental period. Some children will acquire the skills of a developmental period early; others will take longer and may need to work harder. However, by the end of each developmental period, most children can obtain the described skills to read the excerpts provided. If you have concerns about a child's development, talk with the child's family. By having a series of checkpoints and examples of reading levels by grade, teachers and learning partners can accompany and assist children on the journey of reading well and independently by the end of third grade.
Checkpoints for Progress was developed by a subgroup of the America Reads Challenge: READ*WRITE*NOW! Partners Group. The subgroup first reviewed and analyzed national, state, and local checkpoints, and produced a summary document of key language skills for children. The checkpoints were then extensively discussed in focus groups consisting of families, teachers, principals, Title I teachers and coordinators, and school and public librarians. After these discussions, the checkpoints were revised to form this document. The grade-level reading examples were excerpted from the Lexile Map for Reading, developed by A. Jackson Stenner and Malbert Smith, III of MetaMetrics, Inc., in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The eighth and eleventh grade examples have been added specifically for this document. The American Library Association provided suggestions for books to read at various ages and grades. For more examples of books by grade level, contact your local library or bookstore.