LEXILES :: INFORMATION FOR EDUCATORS

In North Carolina , what assessment is used to get a Lexile measure?
The Lexile Framework ® for Reading , commonly referred to as the Lexile Framework, has been linked to the North Carolina End-of-Grade (NCEOG) Tests of Reading Comprehension and Mathematics. The test is administered each spring to students statewide in grades 3 through 8. The benefit to educators is that the Lexile measure can be used to bridge assessment and instruction.

Why did the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction put Lexiles on the NCEOG Tests?
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) recognizes the importance of providing its educators with quality resources. North Carolina was the first state to report student Lexile measures as a supplemental measure on its standardized testing report. Now, teachers can contact their county or district testing coordinators for a roster of their students' Lexiler measures. This enables educators to personalize reading instruction, and to be able to better communicate the reading needs of students to parents.

What are the Lexile/NCEOG Performance Standards?
Performance standards (Acheivement Levels) were developed for the NCEOG tests using the Contrasting Groups method. During the May 1992 field test, teachers were asked to categorize each student participating in the field test into one of four proficiency levels. Teachers were asked to base their judgments on their first-hand knowledge of the student's level of achievement during the school year in various domains assessed outside of the testing situation. Teachers were able to make informed judgments about students' achievement because the teachers had observed the breadth and depth of each students accomplishments during the school year. The four achievement level descriptors are:

  • Level I: Students performing at this level do not have sufficient mastery of knowledge and skills in the subject area to be successful at the next grade level.
  • Level II: Students performing at this level demonstrate inconsistent mastery of knowledge and skills in the subject area, and are minimally prepared to be successful at the next grade level.
  • Level III: Students performing at this level consistently demonstrate mastery of the grade-level subject matter and skills, and are well prepared for the next grade level.
  • Level IV: Student's performing at this level consistently perform in a superior manner clearly beyond that required to be proficient at grade-level work.

The percentage of students categorized into each achievement level was applied to the distribution of scores when the tests were administered statewide for the first time (May 1993) and a range of scores was established for each achievement level at each grade. The acheivement levels for the NCEOG Reading tests were rescaled in 2003. The revised tests were linked statistically to levels initially established in 1993.

In addition to the NCEOG, are there other tests that report in Lexiles?
The Lexile Framework provides an absolute scale for measuring reader performance. A teacher, media specialist or parent can gain an approximation of a reader's measure by asking what Lexiled titles the reader is currently reading, or by asking the reader to read aloud from texts with known Lexile measures. For many purposes, such approximate methods are satisfactory because subsequent reader performance can be used to continuously improve the estimate.

For more precision and high-stakes decisions, many assessments have been linked to the Lexile Framework. States who publish their own assessments - like North Carolina, Idaho, Utah, California, Texas and Wyoming - and standardized assessment publishers - like CTB/McGraw-Hill, Harcourt Educational Measurement, The Riverside Publishing Company and the Northwest Evaluation Association - all report student performance using Lexiles as the performance measure.

What is the Lexile Framework for Reading ?
The Lexile Framework is a tool that makes it possible to place readers and text on the same scale. The difference between a reader's Lexile measure and a text's Lexile measure is used to forecast the comprehension the reader will have with the text. The Lexile Framework was built on the common knowledge that text can be ordered as to difficulty, and readers can be ordered as to reading ability.

The Lexile Framework provides a common language which students, teachers, parents and media specialists can use in promoting student growth in reading. The Lexile Framework is not an instructional program any more than a thermometer is a medical treatment. But just as a thermometer can be a useful resource in managing medical interventions, the Lexile Framework can be a useful resource in managing instructional programs and other resources.

Because so many companies have built products around The Lexile Framework, teachers can now connect all the different components of the curriculum. Since you have a Lexile measure on your student from the NCEOG, you can now connect him or her to over 30,000 books and more than 35-million articles from periodicals, newspapers, reference books and transcripts to find material targeted to the student's reading level. This benefit is best illustrated by examining Figure 1, The Lexile Report Card on the Unification of Reading.

What is the Lexile Scale?
The Lexile ® Scale is a developmental scale that ranges from 200L to above 1700L, although actual Lexile measures can range from below 0L to above 2000L. There is a not an explicit bottom or top to the scale, rather two anchor points on the scale that describe different levels of reading comprehension - beginning reading (200L) and workplace text (1200L). The Lexile Scale is a valuable tool for educators that allows the tracking of student's progress over time. The following is the Lexile scale used in grades 3 through 8.

Grade

Level I

Level II

Level III

Level IV

3PT

At or below 185L

190L to 310L

315L to 620L

At or above 625L

3

At or below 260L

265L to 515L

520L to 775L

At or above 780L

4

At or below 365L

370L to 620L

625L to 905L

At or above 910L

5

At or below 495L

500L to 725L

730L to 980L

At or above 985L

6

At or below 515L

520L to 800L

805L to 1055L

At or above 1060L

7

At or below 620L

625L to 875L

880L to 1105L

At or above 1110L

8

At or below 620L

625L to 905L

910L to 1160L

At or above 1165L

What is the Lexile Map?
The Lexile Map, a graphic representation of the Lexile Scale from 200L to 1700L, provides a context for understanding reading comprehension. This scale can be used to match readers to text that is at the reader's level. While there is not one set level of expected comprehension, the Lexile Framework targets readers to text where the reader is expected to have 75-precent comprehension. At the same time, the reader, teachers, parents and others can moderate this level by adjusting the relationship between the reader and text.

How is a text's Lexile measure determined?
Within the Lexile Framework, the readability of a text is determined by examining the whole text to measure such characteristics as sentence length and word frequency - characteristics that are highly related to overall reading comprehension. The word-frequency and sentence-length results are then entered into the Lexile equation to compute the Lexile measure of the book.

  • Word frequency is based on the frequency of the word in a corpus of over 300-million words taken from a variety of sources and genres. Knowing the frequency of words as they are used in written and oral communication provides the best means of inferring the likelihood that a reader would encounter a word, and thus become a part of that individual's receptive vocabulary.
  • Sentence length is determined by counting the number of words per sentence. Specific editing rules are used to ensure consistency of editing/analysis from text to text. Research has shown that sentence length is a good proxy for the demand that structural complexity places upon verbal short- term memory.

For example, books like "Arthur and the Recess Rookie" (370L), "Arthur Goes to Camp" (380L) and "Arthur, Clean Your Room!" (370L) fall within the Lexile Range of a typical second grader. These books have shorter sentences and words appear frequently. Conversely, books in the "Harry Potter" series (all of which measure 880L), "Little Women" (1300L) and "Don Quixote" (1410L) contain longer sentences and more complex words.

What is the Lexile Titles Database and what can I do with it?
Once you obtain a Lexile measure that describes a student's reading ability (e.g., the Lexile measure off the NCEOG), use this information to search the Lexile Titles Database to find books that are similar to the student's reading level. This database contains over 30,000 fiction and non-fiction titles that have been analyzed. On the search screen, we recommend that you use a Lexile range that is maybe 100L below your student's measure to ensure that s/he has a successful reading experience. On the detailed search screen, you can enter keywords to find books that match his/her interests. The key here is to get your student reading.

For the database, one suggestion is to use the Detailed Search Form and select books with the Lexile Range that you are looking for, but also select a development level (e.g., "Middle School"). Search parameters of "Middle School" and no Lexile Range return results of over 900 books. Another suggestion is to search for particular titles that are appropriate, either by the author or by authors in a series.

How will this benefit my students and me as a teacher?
The Lexile Framework offers a number of benefits for teachers and students. It provides teachers with a highly effective tool for evaluating and monitoring students' achievement in reading, enabling teachers to respond to the reading challenges that student face. The Lexile Framework also gives teachers a "map" of reading materials that are well suited to their students at specific skill levels. In addition, it provides teachers with an excellent means of encouraging parental involvement by giving parents a clear idea of their child's progress, and a selection of books that the child should be reading. Time spent reading outside of school is a powerful predictor of future academic and workplace success.

The Lexile Framework gives teachers an empirical way to provide differentiated instruction, and to connect the various parts of the curriculum. For example, a teacher can now connect students to all the library resources (e.g. Follett, EBSCO and Bigchalk), enabling them to find thousands of books and millions of articles that are at the appropriately challenging reading level. A fourth-grade teacher teaching a unit on dinosaurs can supplement the textbook with related articles and books that span the Lexile range of the students in your class.

How can the Lexile Framework help me with parents?
The Lexile Framework provides teachers with quality resources that they can use both in classroom instruction and for encouraging parental involvement. Teachers can get a roster of their students' Lexile measures by contacting their county or district testing coordinators. Knowing the Lexile measures of individual students enables educators to personalize reading instruction, and to be able to better communicate reading needs to a student's parents. These measures can also be used to promote summer reading, and to select books that will provide background information for homework assignments. Many teachers view the Lexile Framework as a communication vehicle for meeting with parents. It provides an absolute, invariant standard - the Lexile - for connecting students to the world of books and periodicals.

How does the Lexile Framework relate to my core instructional program?
There is a close relationship between the core instructional program and the Lexile Framework. By giving a precise measurement of students' reading performance, the Lexile Framework can help teachers assess and monitor students more accurately. Teachers can supplement core texts with Lexile calibrated material such as trade books, newspapers and magazines, with full confidence that these additions are suitable for students' current skill levels.

How does the Lexile Framework differ from other leveled reading programs?
The Lexile Framework puts the reader and text on the same scale - the Lexile. It is important to remember that Lexiles do not equate to grade levels (see Figure 2, Typical reader and text measures by grade). The measure that a student receives through a linked assessment helps connect the student to books, periodicals, transcripts and other educational resources as indicated in Figure 1, The Lexile Report Card on the Unification of Reading.

Many leveled reading programs use the Lexile Framework. Scholastic's Reading Counts reports Lexile measures for students, and both Reading Counts and Accelerated Reader reports Lexile measures for books.

What does a Lexile measure tell me about what a student can read?
When reader and text measures match, the reader is "targeted." This is the basis for selecting text that is targeted to a reader's reading ability. Targeted readers report competence, confidence and control over the text. When a text measure is greater than a reader's measure, comprehension drops dramatically, and the subjective experience is one of frustration, inadequacy and lack of control. Conversely, when a reader's measure exceeds a text measure, comprehension goes up dramatically, and the reader experiences total control and automaticity.

The Lexile Framework for Reading is a useful tool in designing and managing successful reading experiences for developing readers. The Lexile Framework is not a panacea, and is not the only important consideration. Student interests, parental views on what constitutes age-appropriate material and teacher's instructional aims are also vital issues in managing a reader's growth. It is important to remember that a student's Lexile measure isn't a measure of his or her intelligence. The Lexile Framework is designed to match a students' reading ability with a text's readability for optimal reading success and enjoyment.

Why is the "75-percent comprehension" number so significant?
The 75-percent comprehension rate is the "default" setting within the Lexile Framework. This value was selected to ensure that texts selected are not so hard that the reader experiences frustration and loses the meaning-thread of the text, but, at the same time, is not so easy that the reader does not experience any challenge. Text measures that are lower than the reader measure are used for independent reading and text measures that are higher than the reader measure are used for guided reading with adult direction. This "default" setting of 75-percent comprehension is just that, a "default." By understanding the interaction between reader measures and text measures, any level of comprehension can be used as a benchmark. A reader can modulate his or her own target by lowering the difficulty 250 Lexiles, which increases comprehension to 90 percent. Conversely, the reader can increase the difficulty by 250 Lexiles, thus lowering comprehension to 50 percent. This flexibility allows the teacher, parent, librarian or student the ultimate control to modulate the fit.

A district can choose to establish standards for students such that each student should be reading grade-level appropriate texts with 85-percent comprehension. This can easily be implemented within the Lexile Framework in the classroom by selecting titles that are grade-appropriate (as determined by teachers and other educators) and which have Lexile measures 150L below the reader measures (see Figure 2, Typical Reader and Text Measures by Grade). It is up to the teachers, educators, parents and students to determine the optimal level of expected reading comprehension for each reader. The optimal level of reading comprehension is not a "one-size fits all" notion; there is an optimal level of interaction between reader and text for each reader. This optimal level is also dependent on the characteristics of the reader (such as prior knowledge, interests and motivation) and the characteristics of the text (such as scaffolding and illustrations).

How can the Lexile Framework help in forecasting a student's comprehension rate for a book?
The Lexile Calculator is a utility designed to forecast the reader's expected comprehension of a specific text or text collection. A reader with a measure of 600L who is asked to read a text measured at 600L is expected to have a 75-percent comprehension rate. This 75-percent comprehension rate is the basis for selecting text that is targeted to a reader's reading ability, but what exactly does it mean? What would the comprehension rate be if this same reader were given a text measured at 350L or one at 850L? It is the difference in Lexiles between reader and text that governs comprehension. If the text measure is less than the reader measure, the comprehension rate will exceed 75 percent. If not, it will be less. The question is "By how much?" What is the expected comprehension rate when a 600L reader reads a 350L text? The Lexile Calculator can calculate the expected comprehension rate that a reader is forecasted to have when reading that text. The Lexile Calculator is available as a free resource on the Lexile Web site.

Should students always choose material with increasingly higher Lexile measures?
While students should be encouraged to move on to more demanding material as their skills develop, it is not necessary for them to advance to a higher Lexile measure with each new book. By reading several titles at one Lexile measure, young readers can build confidence and comfort in their degree of reading comprehension before moving to the next zone on the Lexile Map.

Will the Lexile Framework help find books for less advanced readers?
The Lexile Framework is geared toward the needs of readers at all levels. By giving teachers a precise measurement of student performance that is based on an absolute, invariant standard, the Lexile Framework permits more effective evaluation and monitoring of student progress. The Lexile Framework is equally important for readers who are advancing more slowly as it is for readers who are advancing rapidly. In addition, the Lexile Framework enables teachers to select books that are targeted to students' current skill levels. This reduces the risk of frustrating readers and "turning them off" from the benefits and pleasures of regular reading.

What types of materials have been given a Lexile measure? Will more materials be added?
Many different types of materials have been analyzed. The Lexile Titles Database is a collection of over 30,000 trade books that have been assigned individual Lexile measures. In addition to the Lexile Titles Database, partnerships with subscription-based database services such as EBSCO and Bigchalk have resulted in over 35- million articles from periodicals, newspapers, reference books and transcripts being Lexiled. With these tremendous resources, teachers can recommend specific titles and supplemental texts to individual students, knowing that their recommendations will challenge developing readers with new vocabulary and syntax without unduly frustrating them.

While the Lexile Titles Database is large, it is not exhaustive. Publishers send books to MetaMetrics to be analyzed and measured, and new materials are continually being added for teachers, librarians, parents and developing readers to use. If someone notices some books that are not in the Lexile Titles Database, contact the book's publisher and encourage them to send us their books. The publisher will need the title, author and ISBN for each book.

What are some ways that a teacher can use the Lexile Framework in content areas, particularly in middle and high school?
The Lexile Framework allows a teacher to look at the materials used in instruction, similar to a thematic reading unit, and see how they relate in terms of difficulty. For example, if students who struggle to read a textbook are able to find other materials that are easier to read, the students are then able to build background and vocabulary. This enables the student to better handle the textbook, a concept referred to as "layering meaning." Also, using a lot of primary resource material is a great way to evaluate your materials and match them more closely with your students.

For example, perhaps you are a 10th-grade teacher doing a biology unit on photosynthesis. A typical 10th-grade biology textbook measures 1200L, while the range of students in the class can vary from 800L to 1400L. This means that 1200L-text won't fit all the students. One way that The Lexile Framework can help is by providing teachers with resources like EBSCO and Bigchalk to supplement textbook reading material with related articles and books that span the Lexile range of the students in your class.

How do grade levels and Lexile levels relate?
Because of the many problems associated with grade equivalents, there is not a direct translation from a specific Lexile measure to a specific grade level. Within any classroom there will be a range of readers and a range of materials to be read. In a fifth-grade classroom, there will be some readers that are far ahead of the rest (about 250L above the typical reader) and there will be some readers that are far below the rest (about 250L below the typical reader). To say that some books are "just right" for fifth graders assumes that all fifth graders are reading at the same level. What we try to do with the Lexile Framework is to match readers with texts at whatever level the reader is reading.

Just because a student is an excellent reader does not mean that he or she would comprehend a text typically found at a higher-grade level. Without the background knowledge the words would not have much meaning. A high Lexile measure for a grade indicates that the student can read grade-level appropriate materials at a higher comprehension level (e.g., 90 percent). In the classroom, if a teacher is doing a lesson on the solar system, he or she can suggest additional readings at a variety of levels. Therefore, each child can read additional books, and both below-grade and above-grade readers can find appropriately challenging material.

The educational levels displayed on the Lexile Map indicate approximately the middle 50 percent of materials found in a typical grade-level classroom (see Figure 2, Typical Reader and Text Measures by Grade). For example, the instructional materials typically found in a third-grade classroom range from about 500L to 700L. You can go in many third-grade classrooms and find materials that would have measures below 500L or above 700L. We have also conducted numerous studies with large samples of students and have observed approximate reading levels (about the middle 50 percent of the students - the interquartile range) for each grade level (see Figure 2, Typical Reader and Text Measures by Grade). Remember that there are still about 50 percent of the students that are reading higher or lower than these ranges.

Grade

Reader Measures ( Interquartile Range , Mid-Year)

Text Measures (from Lexile Framework Map)

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11 and 12

Up to 300
140L to 500L
330L to 700L
445L to 810L
565L to 910L
665L to 1000L
735L to 1065L
850L to 1100L
855L to 1165L
905L to 1195L
940L to 1210L

200L to 400L
300L to 500L
500L to 700L
650L to 850L
750L to 950L
850L to 1050L
950L to 1075L
1000L to 1100L
1050L to 1150L
1100L to 1200L
1100L to 1300L

Figure 2: Typical Reader and Text Measures by Grade

There is considerable overlap between the grades. This is typical of the reading levels of students in the grades and materials published. In addition, the level of support you provide during reading instruction and the motivation of the reader impact the reading experience. Students who are interested in reading about a specific topic (and therefore motivated) are able to read text that is at a higher level than his or her reading level (about 100L).

The real power of the Lexile Framework is in examining the growth of readers wherever the reader may be in the development of his or her reading skills. Readers can be matched with texts that they are forecasted to read with 75-percent comprehension. As a reader grows, he or she can be matched with more demanding texts. Furthermore, as the texts become more demanding, then the reader grows.

Is there a Spanish version available?
Yes, there is a Spanish version of the Lexile Framework available. It is called El Sistema Lexile. There is also a Spanish version of the Lexile Titles Database. This database contains about 1,600 Spanish titles with Lexile measures.

What is El Sistema Lexile?
El Sistema Lexile is a Spanish version of the Lexile Framework that describes the reading skills of readers when their native language is Spanish. Scholastic has marketed a Spanish version of the Scholastic Reading Inventory, and it also reports in Lexiles (based on Spanish). Feel free to search the database of Spanish titles in the Lexile Titles Database to find books to better understand the Lexile Scale. The Spanish Lexile Titles Database contains about 1,600 fiction and non-fiction titles that have been analyzed. On the search screen, enter the titles of several books you are familiar with and note their Lexile measures. Are the Lexile measures consistent with your perception of the difficulty level of the text of the books? (Remember, the readability of a text is determined by examining the whole text to measure such characteristics as sentence length and word frequency.) By clicking on one of the titles, a user can also find information about the developmental level of the book as determined by the publisher, get a short summary of the book and see if the book has won any awards.

How can I help my ESL students if they have Lexile measures?
Just as with students whose native language is English, educators can use the Lexile measures of ESL students to select appropriate reading material. One way is to search the Spanish Lexile Titles Database to find books to better understand the Lexile Scale. This database contains about 1,600 fiction and non-fiction Spanish titles that have been analyzed. On the search screen, enter the titles of several books you are familiar with and note their Lexile measures. Are the Lexile measures consistent with your perception of the difficulty level of the text of the books? (Remember, the readability of a text is determined by examining the whole text to measure such characteristics as sentence length and word frequency.) By clicking on one of the titles, you can also find information about the developmental level of the book as determined by the publisher, get a short summary of the book and see if the book has won any awards.

Lexile Resources for Educators

 

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