When she first began Reading Recovery, Dame Marie Clay organised the take-home books into levels that were based on how difficult or supportive the books were in relation to picture support (either the pictures on every page show exactly what is happening, or they only represent a small part of what is happening on the page), vocabulary (easy or hard words), sentence structure (simple sentences or longer sentences with varying punctuation and detail) and ideas (i.e. is it likely the child will understand / identify with the content / topic?). The purpose of leveling books was to better match the students to books that would be just-right for them.
The levels for our SAEPS students to achieve are :
End of Prep: Level 5. (Focus is on learning the basics about handling and reading a book including learning letters, simple words, direction of print, and matching 1 written word with 1 spoken word.)
End of Year 1: Level 15. (Focus is on decoding / learning reading strategies, i.e. ways of solving words.)
End of Year 2: Level 20. (Focus is on gaining and maintaining meaning / comprehension.) Of course, decoding and comprehension happens across all of the levels.
You may notice that there is a difference between the book levels that your child brings home from Reading Recovery, and the books he or she brings home from the classroom. The Reading Recovery books will usually be the harder levels. This is because the Reading Recovery student has had an individual book introduction and is very familiar with the book. Your child is able to read harder books under these conditions. I would not expect the student to read the same level of book without the one to one support received during the first readings within Reading Recovery. For this reason, the books that are read within the classroom will usually be several levels behind the books that are read during the Reading Recovery lesson.