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An Evidence-Based Approach to Classroom Reading Groups (Download)

By Sarah Schwartz & Laura Baker — August 24, 2023 1 min read
Two elementary age school children leaning in to read a book. Young blonde Caucasian girl is wearing a pink top and young Asian brunette girl is wearing a blue button-up blouse.
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Planning an elementary reading block is a scheduling feat.

Teachers are tasked with making sure that students get whole-class instruction, experience practicing different components—such as reading, writing, speaking, and listening—and reserved time for their individual needs.

To address this last point, schools often turn to reading groups. The idea is to group students who struggle in similar ways, so that teachers can more easily differentiate instruction.

Many schools use leveled reading groups: They organize children by their score on an assessment of reading comprehension, and then match them with books that are supposed to be at the right level of difficulty for them.

But reading research has shown that there are problems with this method. Assessment tools used to determine levels aren’t reliable, and grouping students in this way can widen achievement gaps.

Still, grouping students in other ways, for other purposes, can be valuable. Education Week spoke to five reading researchers for their tips on how to organize reading groups. Their advice is distilled in the downloadable handout below.

Click Here to Download the Tips

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