I agree with your final point. Every school is different. I get the impression that there are many schools (including the one my children go to) where children are heard to read one to one very infrequently. A sentence every week or so during group reading is the most my children were ever heard in year 1. The top reading group was almost invariably made up of children who have "picked up" reading very quickly, well in advance of the phonics teaching etc. So they take home books which contain some words they don't know and can't decode for themselves, Mum or Dad tells them the word, they remember it pretty much first time, and on it goes. But give a lot of these children a new word and, without an adult to tell them what it is, they can be stumped. It may or may not lead to later problems. Yes this would be picked up in careful one to one reading with these children, with the right material. In general though the material they have in group reading will all contain words they already know as they have read a lot to their parents at home and been told a lot of words and remembered them. The group reading books are chosen to be easily accessible text-wise to enable group discussion about the setting, the characters, speculation about what might happen next etc etc. You don't need to be able to read very much at all to take part in it. So word recognition issues could go unseen in the top group. Then the lower groups have children in them who do not have parents who listen to their children at home. These children are in general also in the lower phonics groups - so they don't have the phonic knowledge, and they don't have parents who have told them lots of words, and their group reading books have barely any words on the page at all. They also have word recognition difficulties because they haven't been taught either at home or school to read by any particular method. They can have a very good discussion about the book though. And they might be able to read as well as the top group can if they had more one to one reading with either a parent or a teacher. I know you will tell me Thumbie that I am just unfortunate at my particular school. I'm not sure that I am though - I've read threads in plenty of other fora which would indicate that I am not on my own. It's difficult for a school to get everything right. A lot do, and a lot don't.