The following document is meant to help provide parents with an understanding of text levels that are used in PAUSD elementary classrooms. In PAUSD, elementary teachers use the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) to help measure and monitor student reading progress. Below are the benchmark DRA scores for students in grades K-5 for the fall, winter, and spring.

Benchmark DRA Scores

 FallWinterSpring
Kindergarten**12
1st Grade21016
2nd Grade162028
3rd Grade28

34 Instructional

38
4th Grade

38 Narrative

40 Instructional Narrative

40 Expository

5th Grade

40 Expository

50 Instructional Narrative

50 Expository

** There is no fall reading benchmark for students in Kindergarten.

Readers at DRA Level 1

  • Recognize letters and their sounds
  • Point to words while reading
  • Use picture to support understanding
  • Know the difference between words and pictures
  • One sentence per page with simple words
  • Read easy, high frequency words (the, a , I, and, is, can, in, it)

Readers at DRA Level 2

  • Follow a sentence over 2 lines of text
  • Continue to point to words while reading
  • Recognize pattern throughout story
  • Reread to fix reading mistakes
  • Read, easy high frequency words (i.e. the, and, my like, see, is, can, it)

Readers at DRA Level 10

  • Begin to understand genres (fiction, non-fiction, etc.)
  • Read and understand dialogue in text
  • Read words with multiple syllables (ex: disappear, unhappy)
  • Understand contractions (ex: can’t = cannot) and possessives (ex: Rob’s car)
  • Automatically read high frequency words (all, are, be, but, for, got, had, of, on, then, this your)

Readers at DRA Level 16

  • Read short texts (8-16 pages) & easy chapter books (40-60 pages)
  • Understand longer sentences of more than 10 words
  • Read many texts silently, without pointing to words
  • Automatically read a large amount of high frequency words (from all previous levels and more)
  • Read out loud & sound like normal speaking (not like a robot)
  • Read out loud & sound like and actor (pauses, reads with expression)

Readers at DRA Level 20

  • Read many types of texts (biographies, informational texts, realistic fiction, fantasy, traditional literature, simple)
  • Read many illustrated chapter books
  • Must remember many details
  • Understand dialogue and the use of quotation marks (“ “)
  • Books have many characters that change a little in the story
  • Read stories with diverse cultures
  • Use strategies to figure out hard words (go back and reread, use picture clues, find smaller words inside bigger words, use word parts like prefixes/suffixes, etc.)
  • Read silently during independent reading, but can read fluently aloud
  • Automatically read a large number of high frequency words (from all previous levels)
  • Read out loud & sound like a typical speaker (not like a robot)
  • Read out loud & sound like an actor (pauses, reads with expression)

Readers at DRA Level 28

  • Know the characteristics of different genres (realistic fiction, fantasy, informational text, traditional literature, biography, etc.)
  • Read fiction chapter books, such as series books (ex: Junie B. Jones) or mysteries
  • Read fiction texts that have many characters that change in the story
  • Read shorter non-fiction texts on one topic
  • Understand difficult sentences
  • Read silently during independent reading
  • Read out loud & sound like normal speaking (not like a robot)
  • Read out loud & sound like an actor (pauses, reads with expression)

Readers at DRA Level 34

  • Know the characteristics of most genres
  • Read chapter books, shorter informational texts, mysteries, series books (ex: The Boxcar Children), books with sequels, or short stories
  • Read fiction stories with many characters that change throughout the story
  • Read nonfiction texts that give information on many related topics
  • Understand difficult sentences and words
  • Figure out new vocabulary words by using clues
  • Read fluently, like an actor would sound

Readers at DRA Level 38

  • Know the characteristics of most genres
  • Read chapter books, shorter informational texts, mysteries, series books (ex: most Magic School Bus books), books with sequels, short stories
  • Read fiction stories with many characters that change throughout the story
  • Read nonfiction texts that give information on new topics
  • Understand mature themes (race, language, culture, etc.)
  • Make sense of new vocabulary words
  • Read fluently, like an actor would sound

Readers at DRA Level 40

  • Automatically read and understand characteristics of most genres, including biographies on new topics, fantasies, chapter books, shorter informational texts, mysteries, series, books with sequels, short stories, diaries, logs
  • Read fiction stories with many characters that change throughout the story
  • Make sense of new vocabulary words
  • Look for information in pictures, photographs, maps, charts, etc.
  • Can break words into syllables
  • Use strategies to figure out difficult words
  • Understand texts with different layouts

Readers at DRA Level 50

  • Read and understand characteristics of most genres, including biographies on new topics, fantasies, chapter books, informational texts, mysteries, series, books with sequels, short stories, diaries, logs, myths, legends
  • Read texts that are longer and involve remembering information
  • Can break words into syllables
  • Search for & use information in a text
  • Look for information in pictures, photographs, maps, charts, etc.