Reading Skills Checklist for Upper Grades

Many students learn to read at a young age, but some students may struggle with reading skills well into their teenage years. Middle school and high school students can be successful readers by working on specific areas of reading comprehension and fluency 4. Parents and teachers can help students become better readers by working with students on basic reading skills, as well as giving students the opportunity to read every day on their own.

Phonemic Awareness and Phonics

Practice daily vocabulary words and the pronunciation of these words. Students should become familiar with the sounds each letter in the alphabet makes in relation to words. Students should be fully proficient in pronouncing various letters of the English alphabet and should be able to pronounce sight words easily. Sight words are words that students should recognize upon sight, such as: the, and, about, cat and dog. This is an important skill for students to learn, for if a student does not know the correct pronunciation of words he will have difficulty in reading and this will carry forward with him in his future reading endeavors.


Practice reading text aloud with students daily. Each student in the class should take a turn reading one paragraph out of a book as the other students and teacher follow along. Students will also spend at least one hour or more per day reading chapter books. These are books with lengthy chapters. An excellent series for middle and high school students is the Harry Potter series of books or the Twilight series of books. Fluency deals with reading effectively with expression and automaticity. Students should increase the rapidity with which they read so it becomes effortless.

Word Wall

Construct a Word Wall in your classroom, filled with various vocabulary words. Students will become familiar with various words and their meaning. Have students spell vocabulary words in their notebooks as well as look up definitions of words in a dictionary. Students will also be required to use vocabulary words in a sentence. Be sure students have a copy of the Word Wall in their notebooks and refer to it frequently during their school day. Students will increase their vocabulary by learning several new words daily.

Reading Comprehension

Write a summary of a story just read as well as picking out the main points of the story. Have students describe characters, setting and plot in the story as well as beginning, middle and end. This helps students understand the text they are reading and take meaning from the written word. This increases students' understanding of what they have read and makes it more relevant to the student's life. Students' reading skills will rise exponentially when they develop their reading comprehension skills 4.