In an elementary school, a teacher assigns a guided reading level (GRL) by assessing a student's reading level. This can entail having the student read from a benchmark book for a specific grade and testing the student on the book passage for comprehension, vocabulary and fluency. Assessment of students in reading occur usually at the beginning of the school year.
When students begin a new grade, teachers can have them read from a book that is standard for the grade. Depending on the student's reading capability, teachers can assign a guided reading level from A to Z, where A is the easiest level. As students progress in reading levels, the books become more challenging to read. Although there are different levels, some text characteristics of the GRL approach found at all reading levels include genre, vocabulary, theme, content and literary features. There are ten text characteristics.
In the late 1990s, Fountas & Pinnell developed this leveling system that is used in reading classes. For elementary school students, the Fountas & Pinnell guided reading level progression scale can assign levels A through C to kindergarten, D through I to first grade students and J through M to second graders. Similarly, a student in fifth grade may be assigned a guided reading level from S to V. Using the guided reading level system approach can help students to become fluent readers and to achieve high quality comprehension of reading material over time, as noted by Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Books website.