What’s New in Tennessee?

Tennessee students will soon have the benefit of receiving Lexile measures through the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) and the EOC English II Exam.  And Warren County is wasting no time in getting the word out to the teachers and staff.  In the April edition of Warren County’s Teacher Links , Dianna Zadeh does a great job of capturing the essential benefits of the Lexile Framework for Reading:

The Lexile Framework for Reading is a reading metric that measures BOTH the student’s reading level/ability and text difficulty on the same scale.  This means that a teacher, parent, or librarian can now match a student to the appropriate reading materials…immediate differentiation.

Zadeh does a nice job of explaining the way that Lexile measures may be used to match students to text, but goes a step further and is quick to dispel a common misconception about the Lexile Framework:

Best of all, the Lexile Framework adds value to state or classroom assessments – adding more information, not more testing time.  It is not another test or a reading intervention program.  Lexile measures provide a thermometer for measuring students’ reading abilities that talented educators, involved parents, and motivated students use to improve learning.

We couldn’t have said it any better.

What Should Students Read

The idea that the literary cannon of primary and secondary schools needs updating is nothing new.  But in ‘What Should Students Read ‘, Steven Wolk goes a step further and argues both that the literary canon of today is depressingly similar to the canon of fifty years ago, and that what students read should be determined by why they read.  Wolk’s contention is that by sticking to the same list of classics from fifty years earlier, schools are actually diminishing a student’s love of reading.  Students often find many of the classics simply irrelevant to their lives, and, in turn, reading becomes something of a chore:

Schools also are still stuck in the classics.  I spoke with three high school boys who attended the school from which I graduated 31 years ago.  I asked what they read for school, and the boys answered: Of Mice and Men, The Scarlet Letter, Lord of the Flies, 1984, To Kill a Mockingbird, Frankenstein, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.   When I mentioned that all of these books were written by white authors, one of the boys said, “I never really thought about that.”  The most recent book they read was To Kill a Mockingbird , which was published in 1960.

My old high school apparently can’t find a book from the last 50 years worthy of required reading… (more…)

Another Great Tool for Teachers: Weekly Reader Adds Lexile Measures

Weekly Reader recently announced that it is assigning Lexile measures to articles in many of its popular classroom magazines.  If you aren’t familiar with Weekly Reader , they have been creating content-rich supplemental materials for students in grades pre-K through 12th for more than 100 years.  Their 12 classroom magazines provide teachers with additional curriculum tools while energizing students and engendering curiosity about the world around them.

This is great news.  By assigning a Lexile measure to these materials, Weekly Reader is giving classroom educators one more way to connect students with reading assignments that match their abilities and goals.  As previous research has indicated, an important component in developing a life-long love of reading is providing students with reading material on topics in which they’re interested.  A recent study (subscription required) by Nell Duke goes even further and suggests that a steady exposure to nonfiction text is essential to allowing students to graduate college and career ready.  And this is just the sort of material that Weekly Reader provides for students and teachers around the country.

Glued to the Screen

Make of this what you will.  In one of the largest studies of its kind, a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the use of entertainment media among 8 to 18 year olds has risen to an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes per day, or over 53 hours per week.  The survey also found that because many young people are engaged in ‘media multitasking’, or using more than one media device at a time, they are actually compressing about 10 hours and 45 minutes of content into the 7 hours. 

On a related note, for those who are as concerned about the what it means for students to live within a constant barrage of entertainment media as they are excited by the potential technology holds for students across socioeconomic levels, you’ll want to check out John Palfrey’s and Urs Gasser’s Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives

Educator Appreciation Week

This week I had the pleasure of speaking to educators at an Educator Appreciation event hosted by the Barnes and Noble store in Southpoint Mall in Durham, NC. Barnes and Noble is recognizing and celebrating the work of our teachers throughout the nation with special store events, discounts, and gifts for teachers. It would be great if more companies would honor our teachers like Barnes & Noble has done.

I was also impressed that teachers took time out of their Saturday schedules (and for many, their spring break) to attend the event. We are very fortunate to have so many dedicated teachers in our country and I was grateful to be a part of an event that recognizes them.

This week our organization is teaming with Barnes and Noble to present at events in Atlanta and Houston . We look forward to partnering with Barnes & Noble to honor all of our teachers who make such a difference every day in the lives of our children. If children are our greatest assets, then teachers are our most important professionals!

The Future of Publishing

Dorling Kindersley Books offers a brilliant video in response to all of the premature eulogies for the publishing industry.  You’ll want to watch it twice.  Enjoy.

\”The Future of Publishing\”

And here Penguin provides some background on how the video came about.

Every Reader a Book, Every Book Its Reader

A recent article in Library Journal.com , Publisher & Librarians: Two Cultures, One Goa l , by Barbara Fister, offers a useful look at the distinct cultures of the publishing market and the world of the librarian:

For two professions so committed to meeting the needs of the readers, publishers and librarians have distinct cultures.  Put simply,one culture is about developing and selling books; the other is about sharing them and fostering a culture of reading.  But there’s another basic difference, too.  Publishers work closely with authors and use sales figures to tell them what readers want, interpreting those figures like tea leaves.  Librarians work closely with readers, using them as informants to help them select books that will satisfy the diverse tastes of a community. (more…)

Barnes & Noble and MetaMetrics Offering Free Lexile Seminars

Yesterday, Barnes & Noble issued a press release detailing the free Lexile seminars to be held in various B & N locations around the country, As part of Spring Educator Appreciation Week, Barnes & Noble is also offering educator discounts and a number of special events.  Check out your local store for more details, and if you live in one of the areas hosting a free Lexile seminar, feel free to stop by and learn more.  Remember, educators get a 25% discount on items purchased at Barnes & Noble during the week of April 10-18.  Part of yesterday’s press release can be found below:

Barnes & Noble, Inc., the world’s largest bookseller, is pleased to announce that MetaMetrics will present free seminars on the Lexile Framework for Reading in select stores as part of Spring Educator Appreciation Week, April 10-18th.  The seminars will explore how educators can use Lexile measures to recommend books that best match a student’s individual level and goals.  (more…)

A Well Balanced Diet

We’ve long known that a nutritious diet depends on more than just a sufficient number of calories – the type and source of calories matter as well. The same may hold true for reading.

Nell Duke of Michigan State just completed a study (subscription required) in which she reanalyzed the 2001 Progress in International Reading Literacy (PIRLS) study. One of her key findings was that every country that outperformed the US had their students reading a greater amount of informational (non-fiction) text. The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) has recommended the following guidelines for the distribution of literary and informational texts:

4 50 50
8 45 55
12 30 70

Based on Duke’s study these guidelines seem to be good parameters for teachers. We already know the importance of targeting students (matching readers to text) through the Lexile Framework for Reading ( two great books on this point are Elfrieda Hiebert’s Reading More, Reading Better and Heidi Anne Messmer’s Tools for Matching Readers to Texts ). But Duke’s study and the work of NCES go a step further and demonstrate the importance of a well balanced diet of non-fiction as well as fiction.

The Genius in All of Us

Annie Murphy Paul offers an interesting review of David Shenk’s new book, The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genetics, IQ, and Talent is Wrong .  Shenk’s central argument is that intelligence and talent have been misconstrued as static genetic gifts.  The idea that great talent is genetically bestowed or that, similarly, intelligence is innate is common enough that these twin truisms can be uttered in most quarters without much controversy.  But our belief that the genetic lottery destines some for greatness and dooms others for tragedy may be based on an incomplete understanding of the relationship between our biology and the environment.    Shenk contends that, while genes certainly exert a strong influence on all of our traits and behaviors, genes are constantly activated and deactivated in response to multiple environmental inputs.  As Paul writes, “…our genetic inheritance is constantly interacting with other forces, some of them under our own control.” (more…)

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.