Stand and Deliver

Many of you may remember the inspiring movie, ‘Stand and Deliver ‘, which chronicled the work of Jamie Escalante who taught math to inner city students.  Escalante passed away last month at the age of 79.  In the April 21st edition of Education Week, Heather Kim Lanier pays tribute to Escalante , but offers a useful corrective to the myths that have sprouted around his notable achievements.  While the movie offers a snapshot of just one year, it takes some rather dramatic liberties.  The real success took more than eight years. Lanier rightfully argues that the underlying support and work of the school’s principal was essential in transforming the math department.  As Lanier writes:

Still, it took Escalante eight years to build the math program that achieved what “Stand and Deliver” shows: a class of 18 who pass with flying colors.  During this time, he convinced the principal, Henry Gradillas, to raise the school’s math requirements; he designed a pipeline of courses to prepare Garfield’s students for AP calculus; he became department head and hand-selected top teachers for his feeder courses; he and Gradillas even influenced the area junior high schools to offer algebra.  In other words, to achieve his AP students’ success, he transformed the school’s math department.

Lanier’s point is not to diminish the work of Escalante.  Rather, she offers a useful reminder that school reform requires significant time, resources and administrative support.

Education for All

We were thrilled to learn that India has enacted a law mandating free public education for all children ages 6 to 14.  According to the United Nations, this means that appoximately 8 million children – mostly girls – will finally now receive an education.  It’s hard to believe that such a basic right was denied to a group for so long; but the world just became a better place – at least for 8 million children in India.  Dr. King once stated that, “The arc of a moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”  As educators, we are about bending the arc.

Guest Post: Carla Wilson and Educator Appreciation Week

We intend this blog to be an open discussion, an open forum for educators, partners, parents, publishers, technologists, and others to participate in an ongoing discussion on the Lexile Framework , education news, and technology.  In that spirit, we will, on occasion, add guest posts from our partners and educators around the globe. This is the first such post.

MetaMetrics hosted a recent series of events at select Barnes & Noble stores around the country to discuss the Lexile Framework for Reading.  Carla Wilson is the Community Relations Manager at a Barnes & Noble Bookseller in Norcross, Georgia and was kind enough to offer the following thoughts:

“My job as Community Relations Manager at Barnes & Noble allows me to wear numerous hats on a daily basis.  On any given day, I can be found in elementary school classrooms reading a story to students, sitting in a school council meeting, judging as essay contest at a local high school, hosting a school book fair, hosting a mock interview with a high school student in preparation for real world opportunities, hosting an author signing, or serving as an event coordinator at a literary festival – the list goes on and on.  This is what makes my position so exciting, and sometimes a little challenging.  Any tool that improves my efficiency as part of my day to day interaction with customers – be they principals, teachers, media specialists, parents, board members, non-profits, etc… – is welcome. (more…)

Help Us Learn…Give us Hope

Forget your image of librarians as quiet and timid administrators, working diligently from within the safe and insulated confines of the local library.  Today’s librarians are active and engaged and leading efforts for change all over the world – even helping with peacekeeping missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Kansas Association of School Librarians has recently partnered with Gary LaGrange, a retired garrison commander for Fort Riley, in an effort to help build K-12 libraries in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as to rebuild university libraries.  Donated books are sent to Kansas where they are shipped out with military brigades transporting troops and supplies to the region.  At the beginning of this year, Dr. Jackie Lakin from the Kansas Department of Education, reached out to us here at MetaMetrics for help with this important project.  As developers of the Lexile Framework for Reading, we have an extensive network of publishing partners and we were happy to help spread the word.  Since that time, we have donated hundreds of books and many of our partners have been eager to help as well.  Galaxy Press, Orca Publishers, Workman, and Kane Miller have all jumped in with resources of their own.

Anyone can participate and be a part of this noble effort.  Click here to learn more.

Lexile.com Visitors Find Books Around the World

WorldCat is a consortium of over 70,000 libraries in 170 countries and territories who share resources to improve the services they offer their patrons.  The Lexile Find a Book site , at Lexile.com , now offers visitors a chance to check their local library for availability of a book with a simple click of the WorldCat button.

So many people now use this feature that Lexile.com is one of the top 10 sites referring searches to WorldCat, just behind Google but ahead of Microsoft.

The two organizations are now collaborating to offer even more refined searching capabilities.  Included will be Lexile measures integrated into the library records of those 70,000 libraries around the globe.

World Book Web Articles – Now with Lexile Measures

On April 23rd, World Book announced that it will be providing Lexile measures for their suite of Web services designed for students across the board – from preschoolers through 12th grade – in World Book Student, World Book Discover, World Book Kids, and The Early World of Learning.

By providing Lexile measures, World Book is ensuring that educators can select level-appropriate reading materials for students.  The Lexile measures align well with World Book’s reputation for – in Vice President of Digital Products, Patti Ginnis’ words – “providing clear, understandable, and usable information written at the appropriate level.”

Additionally, World Book article content is now linked to curriculum standards and benchmarks for all U.S. states and Canadian provinces.  This provides educators an enhanced user experience with World Book, supplementing classroom coverage of important curricular topics with relevant and appealing media and interactive tools, games, and content.

Mason Crest – Now With Lexile Measures

Good news: Mason Crest Publishing will now be providing Lexile measures for their educational books to upper elementary and young adults in the school and library marketplace.  The measurement of titles began in February and to date over 500 titles, comprising 33 series, have been measured.  Measured titles include Dream Big: American Idol Superstars, Hip Hop, Major Competitive Reality Shows, Role Model Entertainers, The Making of a Monster: Vampires & Werewolves, Popular Culture: View Paparazzi, Popular Rock Superstars, Role Model Athletes, and Superstars of Professional Football.

And while Mason Crest has long been known for books placed directly in libraries across the U.S., they have recently expanded their offerings to include curriculum-based books.

Given ample research to indicate that students are more likely to read on topics in which they have an interest, Mason Crest has selected their high-interest books for measurement.  High interest titles allow classroom teachers to offer a wide selection of interesting books across a range of reading levels.

The Right Book for the Right Reader

In yet another example of how Lexile measures can be used to match reader to text, a 4th grade reading teacher over at, Michelle’s Kids Lit , does a nice job of presenting her latest book recommendations for students.  In addition to a thorough review of the material, including whether it’s age-appropriate or not, Michelle details word count, cover art, recommended age and the Lexile measure of the book.  With a review this thorough, parents and students have a good idea if a book is the right book for them before they even pick it up.  Give it a look.

And for those looking to match books to readers on a much larger scale, don’t forget about our Lexile Find a Book site.  Find a Book allows parents, students, and teachers develop book lists based on both a student’s interest and Lexile measure.  Interested readers can select from a broad range of categories and subcategories and then search for books on those topics (and at the right readability level) at their local library or Barnes & Noble retailer.  It’s just one more way Lexile measures can be used to match readers to books.

A New Kind of Textbook

Imagine a classroom in which content can be easily differentiated for students, in which even the complexity of the textbook can be reduced or increased to reflect the reading ability (Lexile level) or interest of the individual student.  That classroom may not be far off.  Macmillan recently introduced software that allows instructors to modify textbooks on demand.  By ‘modify’ I mean that instructors can add text, delete passages, move content around, delete pictures, upload pictures or videos, even rearrange chapters – think Wikipedia for textbooks.  This allows instructors to modify and update texts without having to wait on reissues of the same textbook.

In addition to saving on the cost of expensive reissues and new editions, these customizable textbooks also allow professors to make decisions about the way content is presented.  Based on their own experiences and preferences, the reading abilities of their students, the amount of time devoted to a given topic, or their own classroom syllabus needs, instructors now have substantive input on the structure of the text and how information is presented. (more…)

Tweeting Your Way Into History

In a sign of the times, the Library of Congress just announced that it will begin archiving Twitter messages (tweets).  These public messages will reside alongside other important historial collections, like Civil War letters and Depression era photographs.  Why bother, you might ask.  Why such an effort to archive the random musings of millions of people?

The Library of Congress blogger, Matt Raymond, has argued that there’s research gold to be found within these archives.  It’s easy to see why.  From a historical perspective, Twitter messages will offer future historians and sociologists a wealth of research data and insight into our century.  Think of Twitter messages as the photographs and personal letters from a century ago that make their way into the historical collections of today.  Or, as Dylan Casey at Google, has argued, “Tweets and other short-form updates create a history of commentary that can provide valuable insights in what’s happened and how people have reacted.”

It’s easy for some to dismiss these tweets as simply ephemeral nonsense, but they may very well provide part of the record for future generations.

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.