“I need to find a book to read for school,” says Student A.
“Okay,” I say. “Does it need to be a certain Lexile?”
“Yeah, it needs to be 1150.”
And then I sigh and say, “Okay, this is going to take some time.” Why? Because not only do we have to find a book that’s on shelf in our library that Student A might like (challenging enough on its own), but we also have to find one that is in Student A’s assigned “range.”
What is a Lexile? A Lexile is a score to rate either a reader or a book. These lexiles are reading measurements assigned by a private company called MetaMetrics. When students take their standardized tests, they are given a reader Lexile score, which is supposed to measure how well a student reads. Then on the other hand, whenever a book publisher pays MetaMetrics to measure their book, MetaMetrics assigns their books a number score that shows how “difficult” the text of the book is by measuring word frequency and “syntactic complexity.” The idea is then to match your student’s Lexile score with the corresponding text Lexile score, and, voila, you have achieved “targeted reading,” a student reading books that are not too easy or too hard for them, but just right.
Some would say that education systems in America have been flowering into testing-driven powerhouses for a while, so why the increase in popularity for Lexiles these days? The new Common Core education standards are linking themselves up with a Lexile-based approach, so that’s part of why Lexiles are in vogue more than ever. Why does Common Core use these scores when some think they pigeon-hole our readers into numbers? Because, according to the standards, high school and elementary school textbooks aren’t as hard as college and work reading is. The idea is that they want readers to scale their reading in difficulty as they get older. However, Lexile does not take into account content in their ratings.
As a librarian, I read a lot of reviews of books to see whether they are worthy of purchase for the library. These reviews give grade-range suggestions, not lexile scores. How do reviewers judge a book’s grade level? Sure, they take into account the complexity of the text and “word frequency” but they also take into account the content, which Lexile does not take into account. That’s why you get an adult fiction book (Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz) and a kids chapter book (A Dear Dumb Diaries book by Jim Benton) BOTH with a score of 1000L.
So that’s what Lexile is. Your teacher gives you the range you need to get books in. How do you find out what Lexile a book is? Well, IF a book publisher has paid to have their books rated by Lexile, then you can find the score in several ways; here are four options. (Keep in mind that a lot of books have not been rated yet.)
1.) Go directly to Lexile: www.lexile.com.
2.) Find the “Find A Book” option in the nav bar on the top of the page.
3.) Enter your Lexile range in the measurement box.
4.) Choose your areas of interest. For maximum results, choose all.
5.) Limit your choices with the options on the right hand side.
6.) Now you have to find out whether or not the library owns the books you would like from the list, so go to our SWAN catalog. Search for the name of the book and limit it to on shelf at FPLD. OR ask a librarian!
1.) Go to our web-site: www.frankfortlibrary.org and choose the Research tab at the top.
2.) Scroll through until you find either Novelist or Novelist K-8. I’ve chosen Novelist K-8 for the images.
3.) Log in with the barcode on your card, if necessary. If you are in the library, skip this step. If you are at home, you’ll need your current Frankfort Public Library card. (To apply for a card online, go here.)
4.) Click on Advanced Search.
5.) Enter the Lexile you’re looking for, and limit as much as you like.
6.) Go to our SWAN catalog. Search for the name of the book and limit it to on shelf to see if the item is at FPLD. OR ask a librarian!
Scholastic Book Wizard
1.) Go to Scholastic.com’s Book Wizard.
2.) Enter the range you are looking for.
3.) Go to our SWAN catalog. Search for the name of the book and limit it to on shelf to see if the item is at FPLD. OR ask a librarian!
Ask a librarian—and be patient!
Finally, keep in mind, this from Lexile.com itself: “Teachers and parents can best serve a student's literacy needs when they treat him or her as a unique individual, rather than as a test score or a grade-level norm or average. The reading abilities of young people in the same grade at school can vary just as much as their shoe sizes. However, grade-leveling methods commonly are used to match students with books.” http://www.lexile.com/about-lexile/lexile-overview/
--Ms. Sarah, Youth Services Librarian, Book Finder