Book Bands and reading age

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Book Bands and reading age

Post by chew8 » Mon Mar 07, 2016 6:56 pm

The schools where I help seem to use the Book Bands (BB) colour-coding system. Several sites relate the colours to ‘reading ages’, and there are some inconsistencies, but what I say below is based on what’s here:

It looks at first as if the figures above the coloured boxes show chronological ages, but if you click on a colour, the level is given in terms of a reading age – so blue, green and orange are deemed appropriate for reading age 5-6, turquoise, purple and gold for RA 6-7 etc.

I’ve looked at this in relation to 30 Year 1 children with whom I work voluntarily and whose current book levels I know. I don’t have current reading ages for them on a standardised test, but I did the British Ability Scales word-reading test with them last July when they were nearly at the end of Reception. I have those reading ages according to the original 1977 norms, and they are higher than those implied by the BB system. For example, of 16 children who are now comfortable with blue, green or orange books (BB RA 5-6) all except one had BAS RA above 6:0 even last July (range 5:11 to 7:8 – average 6:10) and it’s reasonable to assume that their reading ages have gone up in the past 7+ months. 8 children now on turquoise, purple or gold (BB RA 6-7) had an average BAS RA last July of 7:4 (range 6:10 to 8:1), and again, those figures must be higher now. The remaining children are on pink, red or yellow books (BB RA 4-5), but only one of them had a BAS RA below 5:0 last July.

Reading ages should reflect what is average for the relevant chronological ages – e.g. children aged 6:0 should be average at reading if their RA is 6:0 or thereabouts. If the BB grading reflects what is now average, however, one possible implication of my BB-BAS comparison is that reading standards have risen since the 1977 norms were published – what was average for particular age-groups back then is now average for younger children. It’s possible, though, that the BB levels are based on what is deemed appropriate in comprehension terms rather than in word-reading terms, in which case direct comparisons with a word-reading test such as the BAS may not be entirely appropriate.

Does anyone else have any thoughts?

Jenny C.

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