Smarter than a Fifth Grader?

By Kim Jones, CEO of Curriki

A recent study found that American high school students are, unfortunately, reading at roughly the 5th grade level. The study looked at the most popular 40 books that grade 9 through grade 12 teens are reading and found the average grade level of this collection is just 5.3.

The report, from Renaissance Learning, is titled What Kids Are Reading: The Book-Reading Habits of Students in American Schools, and is available here.

A slideshow of the top 20 books on the list, and their respective grade levels, is at:

“The single most important predictor of student success in college is their ability to read a range of complex text with understanding,” writes David Coleman, a contributor to Common Core State Standards and commentator on the study. “If you examine the top 40 lists of what students are reading today in 6th–12th grade, you will find much of it is not complex enough to prepare them for the rigors of college and career.”

To help ensure your students are reading at an appropriate level for high school, there is a wealth of reading resources at Curriki. A good starting point is

Within this set of resources you will find units on The Great Gatsby, Invisible Man, A Separate Peace, The Kite Runner and other novels, as well as poetry resources. (Note that April is National Poetry month in the US.) Take a look and help your students move up to an appropriate reading level.

One response to “Smarter than a Fifth Grader?

  1. I am trying to find out from Chelsea K Nilsson where I can find or access her film clips from Scream that she says she uses in Lesson 10 – Lesson Plan on Identifying Foreshadowing. When I click on the “play the clip” it says she has removed it. Can anyone help me contact her and find out how to access the clips.


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