Student Reading Level

Newsela is adaptive. 

Newsela provides the majority of its content at five different reading levels so students have the greatest possible opportunity for growth, then continuously calculates customized reading levels for each student and: 

  • Presents students with articles at that reading level by default. 

  • Supplies the recommended level as a reference to teachers who can set the reading level of assignments at the recommended level or at a specific level of their choosing.

In either scenario, teachers can turn on and off students’ ability to change the level of a text. More on this in our article on level control.

Newsela’s recommended reading levels for students are determined based on student performance data on Newsela’s quizzes or data imported from NWEA’s MAP Growth assessment, for districts that have turned on Newsela’s NWEA integration (for more on Newsela’s NWEA integration, see NWEA and Newsela); in the event Newsela has both, we defer to NWEA. In order to make recommendations based on quizzes, students must have taken at least two quizzes. 

When Newsela does not yet have enough information to make a customized reading level recommendation, students are automatically set to read grade-level texts based on the grade level of the classroom minus one. If the classroom does not have a selected grade level (and the student hasn’t reached the required minimum) they are set to the fifth grade level.

  • Reading levels are calculated for students who have taken at least two quizzes.

  • Student reading level recommendations are only influenced by English quizzes at this time. 

  • Teachers with a premium subscription can review student reading levels in the Reading Summary tab in their binder. 

  • Rather than a diagnostic, a student’s reading level is a recommendation of the best level for the articles they will read next.

You can learn more about finding and navigating the reading levels available for each article here and more about quizzes here.

We recommend using Newsela’s customized reading level when:

  • Individuals would benefit from support in accessing the most important ideas from the article.

  • Students are reading independently to prepare for a whole group activity.

  • Students can practice the skill you’re teaching at an appropriately rigorous level.

  • You want to increase student motivation and confidence.

We recommend assigning texts at (or even above) grade level when:

  • You want students practicing a skill with a particular level of a text.

  • You’ve already discussed the article and built background knowledge with the whole class.

  • Designing collaborative learning activities and creating heterogeneously mixed groups.

  • You have scaffolded the text with annotations and other supports for below-grade level readers.