How and Where to Place a Student in 1stStep/CTT
1st Step is what we used to
call our Starter and Elementary Program. Starter is
for ages 5-6, and for students who are preliterate.
Elementary is for students ages 7-8, and for students who
are developing literacy.
We also provide Lower School for ages 9-10
and Upper School is for ages 11-adult.
The only "overlap" recommended would happen if a
student was not able to read well enough to do the courses
for their age group, in which case they might start at the
next lower level, or if the student reads too well for their
level, at which point the student might start at the next
Wherever a student starts (excluding
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Upper School), the student does as much of that level as is
needed for them to solidly gain the abilities at that level
in terms of both subject matter and literacy. The next
level up will generally cover some of the same ideas, but
will also cover new ideas, and will provide far more
information and detail to established ideas, as well as
elevated challenges to the student's reading and thinking.
Let me provide you a few examples.
Let's say your 8 year-old Elementary child does Elementary
curricula for about 1 year (two semesters), and then
executes the Reading Test for Lower School successfully at
that time. Rather than do the second year of Elementary,
what I would suggest at that time is moving your student up
to Lower School, the next level up. (The same thing would
apply to the extraordinary 7 year-old who could pass that
same test after a year of Elementary.) Upper School would
be too hard. Staying at Elementary when ready for a move up
would bore the student.
Let's say, as is the case with a friend, an Elementary
student reads well enough but finds the writing exercises
too challenging. It was suggested that the student do
Starter, but instead of being read to, that they read aloud
to the parent to develop reading skills. It's a bit of a
half-way measure to get the student up to speed on thinking
and running their own education, and the student will move
up to Elementary, I would think and hope, quickly. This is
an "unusual solution" intended to remedy a situation for a
student a little betwixt and between.
The idea is to place the student initially where they can
pretty easily win but are still challenged, and then move
them up as their skills and perception allow and testing
demonstrates, and not as the amount of material on each
level dictates (except Upper School).
Placement of a student is ultimately not a function of age.
It is rather more about literacy, which is why sample
lessons are provided on
our site for every course, and reading tests made of sample
lessons from each level. The student should start where
their literacy permits.
Please note - there is no reading test for Starter
(ages 5-6), as this level is for preliterate students.
A 5-6 year old who does read can do these levels, though, as
described in the courses, and be allowed to read
To use our Elementary (ages 7--8, and for student developing
literacy) free Reading Test, composed of lessons from this
level, to determine if this is the right level for your
student, click here.
use our free Lower School Reading Test (usually ages 9-10),
made of sample lesson plans from the level, to determine if
this is the right level forr your student, click here.
use our free Upper School Reading Test (usually ages
11-adult), made up of sample lesson plans from Upper School,
to determine if this is the right level for your student,
As a rule, I would not ask a child to skip an entire level
as you'd be setting them up for likely loses. It would be a
bit like skipping, say, elementary school and going straight
to Jr. High (or Middle School). Most students would not
survive such a maneuver well. Each level is constructed to
help prepare the student for the next level up.
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