Lexile by Chapter Guides: Expanded Offerings for a New School Year!

A flurry flutters throughout our nation’s schools as instructors clean classrooms and libraries. Bookshelves are being rearranged. Teachers frantically organize their textbooks and create new bulletin boards. This month, educators gear up with excitement, and refresh their materials (and themselves!) for a new school year. Here at MetaMetrics (developer of Lexile measures), we’re refreshing some of our resources for you too!

Launched last fall, Lexile by Chapter Guides have drawn considerable attention to the utility of Lexile measures in instructional planning. In particular (and as articulated in Tim Shanahan’s blog post this past June), this work helps grades 2-12 teachers think beyond merely using text complexity measures as a way to assign certain texts to students based upon their reading ability. Instead, these Guides help teachers think more about the kinds of instructional scaffolding needed to bridge the gap between the difficulty a particular text presents and the individual student’s unique reading abilities. With a deeper understanding of both the complexity within a book and the reading ability of individual students, educators can more thoroughly explore and prepare for those reader and task considerations in the classroom.

MetaMetrics is pleased to announce that we have added 38 new Lexile by Chapter Guides (LbC) for 33 different titles to our collection. These new Guides are available, along with our previous offerings, on the LbC webpage here. The new titles included represent many books that have been requested by teachers and librarians through our feedback survey; our research into frequently taught full-length works at various grade levels; and also a few that serve to illustrate the importance of this work for instructional planning.

Perhaps most exciting in our new offerings is the inclusion of 16 non-fiction, informational texts. These non-fiction titles (many of which also have discussion guides for teachers collected here) will help provide teachers of science, mathematics, history, social studies, and other content areas access to the same information teachers of literature have enjoyed over the past year.

The planning and preparation that goes on in schools this time of year becomes the foundation for student success over the next many months. We hope Lexile by Chapter Guides are a part of that planning and preparation too. Whether teachers are using these Guides to help them better understand the needs of their instruction, or whether they are sharing them with students to help them anticipate and plan for their own independent reading, Lexile by Chapter Guides are a treasure trove of information that help to spur everyone toward success!

Support your brain by supporting small press literature

As Summer, sadly, draws to an end, the thought of finishing those last books on your Summer reading list may be hard to manage—the malaise of heat only matched by the languor of picking up another tomme published by one of those big publishing houses. It has become commonplace for the “big books” of summer to emerge from the gargantuan publishers with books as meandering as when Dickens was paid by installment (though let’s not be so trite as to call these books Dickensian). These are, indeed, great books, but they are based on a model where the author gets paid a substantial advance for a book that seems to necessitate a weight equal to the gold paid. And, some might say, these books all seem a bit familiar, a bit safe, and a bit expected. Yet, as reported by The Atlantic in the age of the 7-figure book deals, small presses are providing great literature often noted for their beauty, brevity, and creativity.

In non-fiction, Graywolf, based in Minneapolis, has published such books of essays as Leslie Jamison’s Empathy Exams or Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts. In poetry, Graywolf has published 3 Sections, Vijay Seshadri’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, and Citizen: An American Lyric, Claudia Rankine’s important and timely book on race in America (See how instructors have used Citizen in the classroom).

Other notable small presses—though there are many to explore—include Algonquin Books, based in Chapel Hill, NC, which published Julia Alvarez and first published Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Dorothy, based in St. Louis, which publishes authors who are women, and recently published such devastatingly beautiful books as Joanna Walsh’s Vertigo and Nell Zink’s Wallcreeper; Tin House Books, based in Portland, OR, which has sponsored great writers for decades in its magazine Tin House. So explore, and escape into those last days of Summer with a creative and thought provoking new book by one of these presses that helps keep contemporary literature alive.

Educators Needed for Early Reading Focus Group

Are you a kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade teacher, librarian, or reading specialist? Are you interested in hearing about the latest Lexile research in early-reading and sharing your feedback?

Over several years, numerous research studies were conducted to examine the characteristics and features of books intended for early-reading students. This research investigated predictors of text complexity of these books and led to the enhancement of the Lexile® Analyzer (the tool used to determine the Lexile measure of texts).

We are looking for early education professionals to join us in our Durham, NC office and participate in a 90 minute focus group on our outreach efforts related to more precise measurement of K-3 books. Each participant will receive a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card.

Interested? Please complete this short survey. Thank you for your time!

Summer Reading Loss

As we hit heat in the triple digits, summer can seem innervating. Unfortunately, just as kids set into the casual routine of vacation, an insidious truth emerges: some students often return to school with a lower reading aptitude than when they finished school. Among the first to note this phenomenon in 1978, Barbara Hayns determined that different rates of summer learning among students may have a persistent effect over how their educational career develops. In other words, when a student loses skills in summer, it takes her/him a considerable time to catch back up while her/his fellow students continue to improve.

Summer reading loss affects those of lower socioeconomic status, and those of color, disproportionately. In what eminent sociologist Karl Alexander called “turning off the tap,” during the school year schools provide resources that are not available to many people in the summer months. Those with more resources (usually those of higher socioeconomic status or whose parents have more education) tend to do better while the tap is off. Meanwhile, those with fewer resources often feel the strain and suffer disproportionate losses.

However, one solution is to keep reading, either through a formal summer reading program or through a self-directed program. In an effort combat summer reading loss, we’ve created the Summer Reading Pledge on “Find A Book”. Here parents and students can select books that match their Lexile Reading Levels. With the simple Summer Reading Log, parents and students can track a student’s reading progress. It is hard to fathom that the halcyon summer holidays help contribute to an increasing achievement gap among students. Yet, just keeping students engaged with the right books can go along way to narrowing the gap and curtailing summer loss.

Fighting Summer Learning Loss

In partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), MetaMetrics freely provides the annual “Chief’s Summer Learning Challenge” to state education agencies to develop and sustain their summer reading programs. Led by CEO and President Malbert Smith, Ph.D., who serves on the National Summer Learning Association’s Board of Directors, the summer learning challenge is a favorite project among the MetaMetrics staff. It is fulfilling work that relies on the collaboration and dedication across the MetaMetrics team—from engineering to government relations to the marketing department. This year MetaMetrics celebrates its 5th year of leading the fight against summer learning loss.

This summer, MetaMetrics collaborated with 21 state departments of education to combat the negative effects of summer reading loss. Among the 21 states participating in the Chief’s Summer Learning Challenge, the Lexile “Find a Book” search tool, Summer Reading Log and Summer Reading Pledge were promoted to encourage targeted reading practice. These promotional efforts have not gone unnoticed! For example in Kentucky, with many thanks to the tireless efforts of Kathy Mansfield at the KY Department of Education, over 7,200 summer reading pledges have been submitted. The Summer Reading Pledge is available until August 31st, and so far more than 120,000 books have been pledged to read nationwide.

MetaMetrics also leads a charge against summer math loss. The Summer Math Challenge launched in 2013, and has gained great momentum and popularity over the years. Participants have reported:

“I think that this is a great COST-EFFECTIVE activity for ALL parents. I look forward to each activity so that I have “scheduled learning” time for the summer with my daughter.”

“The summer math challenge was great…the exercises were right on target and fun.

This summer, 19 state education agencies have promoted the Summer Math Challenge through press releases, listserv emails and social media outreach. To see which states particpated this year, and past years, visit: https://www.quantiles.com/content/summer-math-challenge/state-participants/. Like the resources for the Chief’s Summer Learning Challenge, the Summer Math Challenge is made freely available to all participants. For more information about the summer math and reading initiatives, visit: https://www.quantiles.com/content/summer-math-challenge/ and https://lexile.com/chiefs-challenge/.

National Summer Learning Day

Today, July 14th, marks National Summer Learning Day, an annual advocacy day created by the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) to bring attention the importance of keeping kids learning over summer break. Each year students grow in their reading and mathematics abilities during the academic school year. However, some of that learning can fade away over the summer months. This phenomenon is called “summer learning loss” and is well documented by researchers. Here at MetaMetrics, we strive to fight summer learning loss by providing free online tools designed to promote reading, maintain math skills and inspire summer learning.

Jump start summer reading with “Find a Book“. The Lexile “Find a Book” tool lets you search our extensive database for books within your reader’s Lexile range. Enter your Lexile measure, then narrow your search by selecting topics that interest your reader. You can also use the tool to check the availability of books at your local library or purchase titles from major booksellers. When using “Find a Book”, don’t forget to submit your Summer Reading Pledge and download our new Summer Reading Log.

Keep math skills sharp with the Quantile Summer Math Challenge, a math skills maintenance program based on grade-level standards that help prepare students for college and careers. The program is targeted to students entering grades 2-8 next fall and is designed to help students retain math skills learned during the previous school year. The Summer Math Challenge lasts for six weeks and focuses on one math concept per week. From June 20th through July 29th this year parents will receive daily emails with fun activities and links to educational resources.  Missed the Summer Math Challenge this year? Register any time and receive reminders for next year.

Kansas Partners With MetaMetrics to Add Quantile Measures to Statewide Assessment

We are pleased to announce the expansion of our partnership with the Kansas State Department of Education. For five years, students in grades 3 through 8 and 10, have received Lexile® measures from the Kansas Reading Assessment. Beginning in the fall of 2016, students will receive both Lexile and Quantile® student measures from the Kansas Assessment Program (KAP).

To report a Quantile measure from the KAP, MetaMetrics will complete an initial research study to link the Kansas test to the Quantile scale. Over the past twenty years, MetaMetrics has engaged in more than 100 studies in 25 states and 24 countries to link assessments to the Lexile or Quantile scale. The KSDE’s reporting of Quantile measures also connects students and teachers with free resources like the Find Your Textbook tool,Math Skills Database, Math@Home® and the Quantile® Teacher Assistant. Kansas continues to use Lexile and Quantile tools in their summer learning efforts year after year. This summer marks the first year that the state has used the Quantile Summer Math Challenge to encourage mathematics practice during the summer months.

Read more about our latest partnership!

New Summer Reading Log

Kick start summer reading with our new downloadable Summer Reading Log and Lexile “Find a Book”. Search our extensive database for books within a child’s Lexile range. Enter the child’s Lexile measure, then narrow the search by selecting topics of interest. You can also use “Find a Book” to check the availability of books at local libraries or purchase titles from major booksellers. When using “Find a Book”, don’t forget to submit your Summer Reading Pledge. Track a child’s reading with our summer reading log and when summer is over; share it with the child’s teacher to show his or her dedication to reading.

How Dogs Are Helping Kids Read Aloud

For many children, reading aloud in the classroom can be seen as a daunting task. Fortunately for those struggling to read in front of their peers, animals may be able to help. Across the country, programs such as Therapy Dogs International (TDI), and Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.), have been implementing the use of trained therapy dogs to help children gain confidence in their reading skills. The participants of these, and similar programs, enjoy reading to a calm pooch in a quiet environment, while they practice their reading skills with no fear of embarrassment or harassment. By associating the act of reading aloud with a pleasant experience with the animal, kids are learning to love reading in the process.

Encouraging children to spend time reading aloud to pets at home could similarly help strengthen the reader’s abilities. Utilizing resources like the Lexile® Framework for Reading and Lexile “Find a Book”, can help the reader choose a text at the appropriate level of difficulty to practice reading aloud with.

Sources:
http://www.tdi-dog.org/OurPrograms.aspx?Page=Children+Reading+to+Dogs
http://www.therapyanimals.org/ITA_Afilliate_Organizations.html
http://thebark.com/content/reading-dogs-help-children-learn

Productive Failure

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Babies learn to walk in this way. Preschoolers learn to button, tie, and zip to dress themselves in this manner. However, the idiom can now apply even after children enter school. In the article, “How ‘Productive Failure’ In Math Class Helps Make Lessons Stick,” Katrina Schwartz explains that productive failure is not just the idea that persistence pays off. Rather productive failure is an effective teaching strategy that involves “careful lesson design, a strong classroom culture and an instructor trained in getting results from small failures so his or her students succeed when it matters.”

The idea is that teachers are trained to develop math tasks that students will not be able to solve but that evoke a students’ prior knowledge relating to the task. Teachers also receive training to gain deeper content knowledge to assess student ideas and misconceptions as well as learn how to set the classroom environment to foster failure as a natural part of learning and not an embarrassment.

The Quantile Framework can help teachers to develop tasks that promote productive failure. Using the tools available on Quantiles.com, teachers can select activities to both develop challenging tasks and tasks that ensure prior knowledge. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Quantiles.com.
  2. Click “Use the Quantile Framework” at the top of home page.
  3. Select “Math Skills Database.”
  4. For the State Standards search, select the state in the dropdown list.
  5. Select the grade level or name of the math course in the Course dropdown list.
  6. Select the specific standard in the Standard dropdown list. Click “Search.”
  7. A list of Quantile Skill and Concepts (QSCs) targeted to the standard will appear.
  8. Click a QSC to view more details including its Knowledge Cluster. The Knowledge Cluster provides insight into Prerequisite, Supporting and Impending Quantile Skills and Concepts.
  9. To help create challenging tasks, click a QSC number for a Supporting or Impending QSC to see free challenging resources.
  10. To access resources to build prior knowledge, click a QSC number for a Prerequisite QSC to see free resources calibrated to a prerequisite skill or concept.

To learn more about productive failure, read the research of Manu Kapur, Professor of Psychological Studies at The Education University of Hong Kong.

MetaMetrics is an educational measurement organization. Our renowned psychometric team develops scientific measures of student achievement that link assessment with targeted instruction to improve learning.