May 11, 2007

The Lexile System

Every once in a while I find an educational resource that really makes a huge difference. The Lexile System is one of those discoveries (thank you Mrs. Bresee!). It is a system of evaluating the level of difficulty for books, based on vocabulary, length of sentences and paragraphs, even the presence or absence of pictures. It is an invaluable tool for parents and educators in helping to determine if a certain book is at the appropriate reading level for a child or if it's too challenging. It's good to challenge children in reading above their level sometimes but there is a limit to how much you can do this. It's important to help our children develop a love of reading and you can't do this if you constantly force them to read books that are too difficult.
Apparently public schools use the system. Most major standardized reading tests offer a Lexile score for each child. Some examples of Lexile score ranges for different grade levels are as follows: 200-300 for first graders, 500-700 for 3rd graders, 700-900 for fifth graders, 1000-1100 for 9th graders, 1200-1500 for college level, 1400-1600 for graduate school level. Every child is different though and this is a much more accurate measuring tool than "grade levels".
For those of us who won't have our children take a standardized test soon, there are sample passages for each level on, which can help determine the level of comprehension. Based on those and on the books Teddy read relatively easily and enjoyed, I would say that he is at an 800 level. Armed with this information I can now choose reading materials that are appropriate for his level (the recommended range is 100 points below to 50 above the child's level, which for Teddy would be 700-850).
Poor Teddy has to read Treasure Island, unabridged for this month's book report (it was my recommendation) and he's just not enjoying it. Now I know why, it's a level 1070 (an 8th-9th grade level), way too hard for him. I decided to go to the library and get him an abridged version at his level so that he can actually enjoy reading it.
Lexile is now my new favorite toy. I keep checking the reading levels of the books we have and some results are quite surprising.

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