Friday, July 7, 2017

What Is a Lexile Level


Mission: Excellence in Education

By Elizabeth Robinson

"The LEXILE FRAMEWORK is the scientific way to match readers with text using the same scale.  

Recognized as the standard for matching readers with texts, Lexile measures connect learners of all 

ages with resources at the right level of challenge. Lexile measures provide a clear way to monitor

progress toward college and career readiness."   …

One thing is to know what a Lexile is and another is to know why it is so important in the teaching of reading.

As a teacher of English in Mexico back in 1996, we had no way of measuring the Lexile reading level of a student, nor did we know that books also have their own Lexile level. In order to know the reading level of a student, we had to hear them read orally and apply Reading Comprehension tests based upon the reading they did in the classroom or as homework.

When we had groups of 25 to 30 students, and sometimes two of them, one after the other, it was difficult for us to find the time to listen to each of our students read out loud on their own, sometimes having to keep them from recess or after school to have a quiet 20 minutes or so to hear them. Then, based on our own criteria, opinion or experience as teachers, we would apply a grade to each and every one of our students over X period of time. When a grade was required for a report card, every two months, this was an exercise that had to be done 5 times a year.

I wonder how many teachers sat their students down to read at the very beginning of the year to hear their oral reading skills during the first two weeks of school? Usually during these weeks we were busing getting settled in, learning how to work together and getting to know the personalities of each student in our charge. Where to find the time to hear each one of them read in September or October?

Therefore, how were we to know how much our students could have improved during those two months? Most teachers would simply assign a grade from 5 to 10 and hopefully those with lower grades would improve and those with 10’s would keep their 10’s!

What about growth? What about those students who had entered in September with a poor reading level, and had improved during the first two months of school? What about those students who knew how to read perfectly well at their grade level, but needed motivation to improve even more? At that age, there was always a long road of improvement ahead, but what made them eager to move ahead further than a perfect 10?

How were we to know in reality what the reading level of our students was? Compared to what? Each other? The students we had last year? The other group in the next room?

On the other hand, what about the books we wanted our students to read from the library? What books were we as teachers supposed to be adding to our classroom libraries? Did we choose them by age appropriate topics? By the size of the lettering? By the length of the book? By the vocabulary? By experience?

How were we as teachers really supposed to be sure about the level of books we chose for our students and whether or not the level was appropriate not only for our group, but for the real reading level of each and every one of our students?

Now lets look at why Lexiles are so important:

In the market today, there are tests that students can do on platforms that measure their Lexile Level. The levels run from BR = beginners to 1220L

Typical Reader Measures, by Grade

Grade    Reader Measures, Mid-Year 
              25th percentile to 75th percentile (IQR)

1            Up to 280L

2            230L to 580L

3            360L to 720L

4            480L to 830L

5            620L to 950L

6            690L to 1020L

7            780L to 1090L

8            820L to 1140L

9            880L to 1170L

10           920L to 1200L

11           940L to 1210L

12           950L to 1220L

As previously mentioned, books also receive a Lexile Measure, depending ontext difficulty only. A Lexile measure does not have anything to do with the content or the quality of a book. In other words, Lexile measurement of a book depends on two factors: the difficulty of the book and Word Frequency and Sentence length.

100,000,000 books have had their Lexile level measured in the world and thebenefit of knowing the Lexile level of your student and the Lexile level of the books you want them to read, lies in the matching of these two to increment learning and growth.

Typical Text Measures, by Grade

Grade                Text Demand Study 2009                                2012 CCSS Text
              25th percentile to 75th percentile (IQR)                           Measures*

1                  230L to 420L                                                           190L to 530L

2                  450L to 570L                                                           420L to 650L

3                  600L to 730L                                                           520L to 820L

4                  640L to780L                                                           740L to 940L

5                  730L to 850L                                                           830L to 1010L

6                  860L to 920L                                                           925L to 1070L

7                  880L to 960L                                                           970L to 1120L

8                  900L to 1010L                                                       1010L to 1185L

9                  960L to 1110L                                                       1050L to 1260L

10                  920L to 1120L                                                     1080L to 1335L

11 and 12    1070L to 1220L                                                      1185L to 1385L

How do we match them?

Students will do a test at the beginning of the year when they enter their new grade. Once the teacher has their new Lexile Level, she will match the students up with books slightly lower, on level, and slightly higher than their Lexile level.

The way students gain confidence and enjoy reading because they are understanding the books assigned to them as an individual, not the same story or anthology assigned to the entire group (whether they understand it or not).

Students are motivated to improve their Lexile levels by practicing the skill of reading, in the classroom and at home, once they have read a story, they are invited to answer a reading comprehension test that is also available on the platform. The grade they obtain on that test, will be recorded on the platform so that they and their teacher can follow their progress as the Lexile level as each student improves.

The best Platforms will include not only an extensive library of books with their Lexile Levels identified, but will also provide reports on each and every student, reports by group, by grade and by school. These reports will give the teacher the support they need for those grades teachers used to guess at. The grades or results of their Reading Comprehension tests will provide that information.

How do we obtain a grade for Oral Reading of our students?

The best platforms available on the market should include a recording option so that students can record their voices reading sections of assigned stories and send it to their teacher. What a time saver!

The past 2 decades has brought us many digital components and options for our schools, but to know what these are, and why they are important to education today is the key for exceptional and vanguard decision making.

For further information on Lexile Levels please visit

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