What Reading Level Should a Fifth Grader Be At?
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What Reading Level Should a Fifth Grader Be At?

While elements of learning to read remain in fifth grade english curriculum they are also interspersed with reading to learn skills, and the development of a reading culture both with in the school and the home. To be able to learn through reading it is important that students of are a sufficient reading level to be able to comprehend the text they are presented with. Fifth grade reading levels are there important to both be aware of and understand.

An average fifth grade reading level ranges between 22 to 30+ on Reading Recovery and PM levels or up to level 50 on DRA levels. There will be outliers depending on individual students. Grade five levelling assessment focuses on reading comprehension skills, assuming that phonics and reading skills are already known.

This “what reading level should a fifth grader be at” article will also cover the following information:

  • What are reading levels and how they can be used to help your 5th graders to improve their reading skills especially comprehension.
  • What you can do to support your students, 5th grade and others, to progress.
  • Reading skills and concepts are covered in fifth grade classrooms.
  • Links to our 5th grade reading resources (and other resources)

If you are looking for reading and writing worksheets for grade 5 we have a large collection here in the article below.

What Is a Reading Level?

There are multiple different programs and tools to assess students of all grades reading levels. The majority of these reading level assessments all share common indicators. They assess the comprehension, pronunciation, decoding and fluency ability of a student of English while they are reading a short leveled text.

Fifth graders are highly unlikely to be reading at a high school level just yet, and although they are getting closer it they are not quite ready to be reading the same materials. At this stage, in fifth grade, there will be a focus on introducing age appropriate chapter books, non fiction texts, and some traditionally stories, possible rewritten, in English.

Reading comprehension is included in 5th grader lessons on a much more frequent basis as at this level, barring any barriers or additional needs, their hard reading skills will be developed enough to start to look at whole text meaning and looking at higher order reading comprehension skills.

We have a resource below for this if you need, as well as posts and articles on the Reading comprehension skills, however its a better deal to pick it up in the bundle offer we have on this page as well as that comes with reading material, worksheets, games and this higher order set!

Reading A2Z have detailed information on the different reading level assessments and programs which all have commonalities. They also have differences as well, with some like Lexile concentrating on word count or difficulty of words and others like the PM benchmark looking at simplicity of both words and sentence construction as well as including comprehension of text as a ranking and leveling factor.

Makign it more confusing that it needs to be, you will find educational systems, nationally and internationally all use different methods to level their grade 5 students. this means they will also use different reading assessment tools.

To bring some clarity to this the chart below offers a handy comparison to help both teachers and parents when it comes to choosing reading materials. However, it is a guide not an instruction list as grade 5 readers are starting to develop their own interests, not just what parents or their English teacher puts in front of them.

The different systems can be confusing at first and when choosing what reading levels books to choose for 5th grade classrooms it is definitely of use to spend some time with both your reading resources and the chart to make sure they fit the reading level of your students.

however never under estimate motivation! You can have a perfect levelled reader for grade 5 but the subject is of no interest then it is unlikely they will engage with it. It is better going slightly above or below their reading level and choosing something of interest, than finding something they won’t enjoy.

We use this chart in all our reading level articles.

Many Guided reading publishers have developed their own systems as well.

For both ease and continuity, ( as we have used this Reading level assessment tool in our other reading level articles) we will use the DRA reading level today as RR tends to stop and move to comprehension after level 20+) As you can see DRA goes up to level 80.

Other Grade Reading levels

We have articles discussing the expected reading levels of other grades below.

Other Grades Average Reading Levels.

We have a selection of articles on reading level expectations for different grades below.

Kindergarten Reading LevelsGrade 1 Reading levelsGrade 2 Reading levels
Grade 3 Reading levelsGrade 4 Reading LevelsGrade 5 Reading levels

What is the DRA Reading Levels Assessment.

The DRA ( Developmental Reading Assessment) is a reading skill assessment tool that aims to evaluate students reading levels to enable teachers and parents to assess students reading skills including fluency, comprehension and phonics. They aim to discover the independent and instructional reading level of students. it is suited for grade 5 levelling and beyond as their leveling system expands beyond reading ability and into reading comprehension.

What is an Instructional Reading Level?

Instructional Reading level is the reading level directly below independent. Students should be able to comprehend and decode upwards of 80% of the text at an instructional level. At grade 5 texts will be introducing more complex topics as well as language. This level can vary between students and also between subjects as students have interest and motivators that differ.

What is an Independent Reading Level?

An independent reading level is a level of reading ability that allows students to read texts without assistance from teachers or parents. Most grade 5 students will be independent readers, depending on the level of text given to them. ( no medical dictionaries etc!)

Hopefully they are reading for fun in grade 5 , but if not encouraging them with books covering their areas of interest will help to develop that love of reading.

When reading this level of text students will be able to decode over 90% of words and answer increasingly complex comprehension questions independently.

What is a Frustration Reading Level?

Frustration level reading can be defined as text that are to complex for a students current reading level. Texts at this level will not help progress students to higher levels, conversely attempting to read at this level will demotivate students and hinder their development of reading skills.

In 5th grade english lessons, as well as other grades, classrooms and homes teachers and parents should aim at using an instructional reading level. This allows students to comprehend and therefore engage with texts with some assistance, and gives them the motivation to see they are doing well, but still have the support and guidance of teachers and parents when they need it.

Guided reading, for which we have many articles and resources, is an excellent way of introducing text at appropriate levels to small groups of 5th graders.It is better to introduce guided reading at an earlier stage ( though late is better than never)

Guided reading in grade five can (and should) be more about the ideas of text and higher reading comprehension strategies. (which we have an article below) but have listed as well. Students should be encouraged to look beyond the obvious meaning of the texts. This can be done with different text types such as news, advertisements or magazines.

The Seven Reading Comprehension Strategies

Reading StrategiesResources and Article Link
InferencingHow to Teach Making Inferences
Determining ImportanceWhat is Determining Importance
VisualizingHow to Teach Visualizing.
SummarizingHow to Teach Summarizing
Prior KnowledgeHow to teach Activating knowledge
QuestioningHow to Teach Questioning
MetacognitiveMetaCognition activities

Check out the links to know more. We also have an article here on what age you can start teaching guided reading.

What level reading is a grade 5
education and school concept – little student girl studying at school

What 5th Graders Learn Throughout the Year.

As we mentioned above a Fifth grader can be reading from about reading level 20 to level 30+ (on Pm benchmark) or up to level 50 with the DRA reading levels. However please don’t worry if your students or children are below this reading level, or be too confident if they are above this.

Also assuming phonics skills have been developed already grade 5 students will build and add to these as they read. it is now important to look at reading comprehension, critical thinking and higher ordering thinking. Albeit at an introductory stage.

Children will develop their reading levels and skills at different paces to each other. Although there should be certainly some progress in grade 5 to have a strong knowledge of phonics rules and reading skills there is still time if these are a little behind. we have countless resources to help with these skills if you need.

The next section covers what skills they will learn to help them improve their reading levels through out the Fifth grade.

Children develop at very different speeds, and different learning environments will impact on their reading development. If English is a second language, or if there are other demands on students or parents time will all affect their reading skills acquisition. Be assured that in the vast majority of cases, with a little planning, all students progress and develop their reading skills.

Marc Ford

What Reading Skills They Will Learn in Fifth Grade

What Reading Level Should a Second Grader Be At?What Reading Level Should a fifth Grader Be At?

An essential part of learning and reading in fifth grade is comprehension, this is not just a face value statement. In Fifth grade there is a focus on independent reading and reading to learn as well as reading comprehension strategies.

They will have to learn and practice skills like interference, summarizing and questioning. and apply them to their reading texts. Fifth grade classroom lessons, in good English classrooms at least, should be focussing on how to apply these. We have links above to explain how these can be taught and resources to use with 5th graders and above.

According to The Common Core Standards, a Fifth grader will be focusing on the following English reading and literacy skills. We have put this information in a table to provide resources for FREE download to help you as well.

Common CoreResourceHow it can help
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.1: Quote from the text and use inferencing answers to questionsReading Materials at Grade 5 level. -Comprehension Questions
-Vocabulary Matching
Determine themes of the story, and empathy with the characters
Grade 5 ReadersMix of fiction and nonfiction short passages and comprehension questions.
Compare and contrast two or more characters.
The Complaint letter, The Lizard and the Sparrow and the Stupid crocodileAll of these texts offer the chance to do a character comparisons or discuss how they react to a situation.
Meaning of words and their place in the text.
Adverbs, Reported speech, passive voiceSelection of grade 5 grammar and reading skills worksheets. Adverbs for example
Awareness of narrators view and influences.
A complaint letterCould be used to write a reply for each complaint from the person its aimed at to explore different views.

Grammar and English Language arts more than phonics provide the main focus of a grade 5 English curriculum. Concepts like, adverbs, passive voice, use of tenses, phrasal verbs, reported speech, error correction, reading comprehension skills all start to become more prominent.

Sentences and constructing sentence are more important in fifth grade. Reading materials will include more complex versions and teachers and parents can use reading levels to gain appropriate levels of text for their students and children. We have some on the site for free, and in addition we also have sentence making and sentence scramble worksheets as well although these may be a little simple for most fifth graders.

Online games are one of the best ways to engage all students including 5th graders. We have articles on some of the best online games, and have a page that has all the ones we make as well. These are free to play and very popular and certainly add motivation to your lessons! Although some have a focus on phonics they can still be useful for vocabulary building and sentence construction.

Phonics and Reading Workbook Bundle

What Can Teachers Do to Improve Reading Levels at 5th Grade.

Grade 5 Teachers can develop a love of reading in classrooms and encourage students to take control of their own learning as well.

  • Have a selection of levelled readers suitable for 5th graders covering fiction and NON fiction texts. Thi would be ranging form about level 16 to level 30 on Pm benchmark scales.
  • Make sure there is a mix of text types and text subjects, including opinion pieces to allow students to start to understand that texts can be written from certain viewpoints.
  • Include reading time in lessons. Allowing students to read their choice of books for set periods through the lesson / day.
  • diversify how resources are presented, online games, worksheets, readers, multi media etc.
  • Take time to read to your class, it doesn’t happen often and students can learn alot from teachers putting correct emphasis and time into literature.
  • Give handouts on reading skills, and reading comprehension skills and have them displayed in the classroom.
  • Make sure you demonstrate when using these higher skills, and let students know when is a good time to use them in their reading.

What Language Will Books at Grade Five Reading Levels Contain?

  • Fifth grade reading resources will start to include use of metaphor and smilie as well as more advanced grammatical structures and sentence construction. There will be more subtle humor used as the presumption will be that students at these levels can understand the words and now there will be more emphasis on how these words are used.
  • The texts will be more adventurous not just in their use of language but also in their subject matter. the aim in fifth grade is to keep children reading to help them develop a love of reading. ( which we cover below as well)
  • There will be different text types introduced more frequently in fifth grade. Students should be at the level where they are able to discuss and talk about the differences between informational, poems, news articles, fiction and nonfiction texts
  • With the increase in difficulty will come an expanding vocabulary. Academic language and vocabulary may have been introduced in grade 4, but will increase in grade 5, some of these may be related to non fiction texts.

How Can Parents Help Their Fifth Grader Develop a Love for Reading?

What Reading Level Should a Second Grader Be At?What Reading Level Should a fifth Grader Be At?

Parents, play an important part in helping children become interested in reading. Story telling, appropriate reading resources, reading yourselves and books in the house will all help. However we have a list below to help you gather some ideas as well.

Here’s a list of ways that you can help your Fifth grader develop a love for reading:

  • Find reading material that they’re interested in. For example, if they love dinosaurs or adventure then let them choose those books over anything else. The idea is to keep them reading at home, and off the playstation or phone!
  • There was a lovely quote i read from a parent saying they offered their son or daughter a dollar for every book they read over the summer, and it was the best 120 dollars thy have ever spent. Incentives shouldn’t be your first step but if needed they could be a great investment.
  • Read the newspaper together, or parts of it and ask them their opinions on news. Let them know what they think is important, and allow them to practice putting their reasons and arguments together.
  • Ask them to read a book with you. They can choose one for you both to read and talk about.
  • Look at competitions to join ( although the less pressure the better) if your children like to perform consider a youth theatre or readers theater group.

Grade 5 students, whatever their reading level, are always learning. Parents can help to steer that away from getting high scores on PUGB or Minecraft and into reading to learn.


As we have highlighted above the average reading level of a fifth grade will fall between a wide range. From around 20 to 30 using a PM Leveling benchmark and 20 to 50 using a DRA reading level framework.

However we have also mentioned that there will be difference is students abilities, circumstances and backgrounds that will all effect their reading levels. The key aspect i hope has become clear is that at this age, in grade 5, students should be given both opportunity and time to progress their reading on their own wherever possible.

The aim is to keep them reading, and to move from learning to read to reading to learn. to do t

At this age students hould be developing and practicing giving their opinions on their learning.

Here’s a quick recap of the post:

  • Fifth graders typically fall between a 20 to 30 reading level depending on the leveling framework.
  • Use different text types, allow them time to read independently
  • Encourage them forming opinions on what they read
  • Follow their interests, it helps motivate them to read
  • Expand their vocabulary, including academic vocabulary.
  • Start to develop awareness of empathy and looking at texts from other points of view.


About Making English Funn

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, English, General Studies and Outdoor Education. Thought it was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children

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