UNC School of Education Commencement Address

Earlier this month, MetaMetrics® President and Co-founder, Malbert Smith, Ph.D., delivered an inspiring commencement address to the graduates of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education. To view the entire speech, click here.

Smith’s speech emphasized the powerful role that educators have in our society. He started by declaring that the future educators in the room were the most important graduates in the Dean Dome that day because they will be responsible for our most important asset: our children.  

Smith’s speech also highlighted several important educational challenges and how public policy can be used to address these challenges.  The educational challenges Smith referenced included the summer learning loss epidemic and other consequences of the traditional academic calendar, shrinking educational budgets, lenient compulsory education laws and the lack of early education programs. He encouraged educators to enlighten their elected officials on these topics to help promote educational progress. Finally, Smith told the future teachers to stay true to their profession and urged them to inspire the future generation.

Smith ended the address with a fitting quote from Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Smith earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Duke University in 1975 and then went on to earn a master’s degree in educational psychology from the UNC School of Education in 1976 and his Ph.D. in 1979.  Smith co-founded MetaMetrics in 1984  with CEO A. Jackson Stenner, Ph.D. and together they created The Lexile® Framework for Reading, El Sistema Lexile para Leer, The Lexile Framework for Writing and The Quantile® Framework for Mathematics.  

Smith is a particularly sought-after thought leader on education reform and policy. He authors many case studies, policy briefs, research briefs and white papers on a wide range of education topics.

Smith will be speaking at the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Rural Chiefs Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah on May 31st and will be participating at the 2013 ECS National Forum on Education Policy in St Louis, Missouri on June 26th.

For more information on Dr. Smith’s speaking events, please visit www.metametricsinc.com/events.

Malbert delivering the goods unc 2013 A view from afar unc 2013

Appreciating Our Teachers

The National PTA® will celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week May 6th-10th. Please take a moment out of your week and thank a teacher who’s touched your life. Here are some suggestions on how you can show your appreciation.

Here at MetaMetrics®, we would like to give special thanks because without teachers we wouldn’t be here. Thank you for all of the hard work you do and thank you for supporting our vision. Most of all, THANK YOU…

…For spreading the joy of reading, science and math

…For all of the extra hours you’ve spent mentoring students

…For all the late nights you’ve spent preparing lesson plans

…For giving kids the confidence to follow their dreams

…For teaching our youth discipline and respect

…For shaping the future leaders of the world

We are truly blessed to have you in our lives. Without you, none of us would be where we are today. You represent the future and direction of our society. 

Fighting Summer Loss – “Give Five – Read Five”

The phrase “summer loss” describes the phenomenon in which students suffer a loss of content knowledge and skills over summer break. Research has shown that low-income students are particularly vulnerable to this issue because they lack the resources when they go home.

In an effort to combat “summer loss,” The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and State Superintendent June Atkinson have launched the “Give Five—Read Five” campaign. The campaign is aimed at promoting summer reading while providing books to those in need. Parents, teachers and business leaders are asked to donate five new or gently-used books to their local elementary school. You can donate books at any elementary school during school hours of 8 am – 3:30 pm.

MetaMetrics®, developers of The Lexile® Framework for Reading, have partnered with The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to offer incentives for the top three schools that collect the most donated books. Click here to learn more.

On April 23rd, MetaMetrics President and Co-founder Malbert Smith spoke at the “Give 5—Read Five” campaign launch at Hilburn Academy in Raleigh, North Carolina. State Superintendent June Atkinson recognized MetaMetrics for donating 300 books to the school.  You can check out photos from the event on our Facebook page.

Let’s come together and fight summer loss. Please Give Five and don’t forget to Read Five this summer!


New Global Section: Now Available on Lexile.com

We are thrilled to share our brand new global section on Lexile.com: www.Lexile.com/global.  The section highlights the ever growing global presence of MetaMetrics®.

We’ve divided the Global section into three main categories:

  • Global Partners– Features several of the largest global education companies that use Lexile® measures, including; ETS®, Pearson, and Scholastic International. 


  • In Country Partners– Details each country’s testing, book retailer and publishing partners, translated resources and local press.


  • News Around the World– Includes hundreds of articles from around the globe that feature MetaMetrics and Lexile measures.

Our new global section is your source for latest news. Keep your eyes open for weekly global press updates, new partner additions (like our recent partnership with Amazon.co.jp) and our translated global resources.

In addition to the updated global pages, we’ve just released a brand new Lexile overview video, accessible in English, Japanese and Korean.  All videos are also available on our YouTube Channel.

And don’t forget to like our Lexile and Quantile Facebook pages and follow us on Twitter!

Poem in Your Pocket

In celebration of National Poetry Month, the New York Times has come up with an interesting project: they are publishing haikus. The short poems follow the general syllabic rule we all learned in grade school, but not the true rules of the poetic form (haiku are typically focused on images from nature and always refer to the season.)

Yet these poems published by the Times are unique in their own way: they are all pulled from Times articles using a computer algorithm. Journalists then review the findings and select the more elegant poems to post online. Each poem has a link back to the original article.

With Poem in Your Pocket Day finally here, it may be fun to browse the collection and pick a few favorites to share for today.   And it’s always rewarding to watch as the day’s news leads to art.

New York Makes Finding Lexile-linked Resources Even Easier

Students and teachers in New York will have yet another way to access Lexile-linked information in their school library.  Schools that use OPALS (Open Source Automated Library System) will now be able to search and access material based on Lexile measures:

The collaboration between MetaMetrics and BiblioFiche/Media Flex will provide New York school libraries that use OPALS (Open Source Automated Library System) with access to Lexile measures. According to the MetaMetrics Web site, “A Lexile measure is a valuable piece of information about either an individual’s reading ability or the difficulty of a text, like a book or magazine article. The Lexile measure is shown as a number with an “L” after it — 880L is 880 Lexile.” The Lexile Framework looks at students’ reading ability based on assessment results, and teachers can then select materials based on students’ reading abilities…

For this project, the OPALS support team created a utility that allows Lexile measures to be added to more than 140,000 titles, allowing teachers and librarians to know the reading difficulty of each title. The utility, which supports Common Core State Standards, schedules regular updates.

This link provides another way that teachers can locate and utilize instructional materials within a range of reading levels, helping make differentiation that much easier.  Students will also be able to locate a wide variety of resource materials and books at the appropriate reading level.  As schools across the U.S. shift toward an increased focus on text complexity and helping ensure that all students graduate college and career ready, it’s good to see that New York educators will have the resources they need.

Our Own Jill Fitzgerald Contributes to New Book and Named AERA Fellow

We would like to congratulate MetaMetrics’ own Dr. Jill Fitzgerald for her work on the upcoming book, Best Practices in Writing Instruction, Second Edition. Dr. Fitzgerald joins fellow editors Steve Graham, EdD (Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University) and Charles A. MacArthur, PhD (School of Education, University of Delaware) in this latest publication.

Best Practices in Writing Instruction, Second Edition, presents teachers with best practices for helping K-12 students develop their writing skills, while following the criteria of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The book also reveals how teachers can integrate technology into their writing programs, tailor instruction for struggling writers and use assessment for instruction. This brand new edition from Guilford Press will be published April 25, 2013, but is now available for pre-order online at Amazon.

In addition to her work on the new book, Dr. Fitzgerald was recently named a 2013 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Fellow. The AERA Fellows Program recognizes scholars around the globe for their outstanding achievements in education research. Nominees are considered after 10-15 years of postdoctoral contributions and are nominated by existing AERA fellows. Each nominee must be recommended by the Fellows committee and approved by the AERA Council. AERA has over 25,000 members from a comprehensive range of fields.

Dr. Fitzgerald has spent nearly 32 years with the School of Education at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; serving as professor, chief academic officer, senior associate dean, director of graduate studies and interim dean. In addition to her MetaMetrics position, she also holds a Research Professor position in the School of Education at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research spans more than 35 years and has resulted in over 100 works.

Since joining MetaMetrics as a Distinguished Research Scientist in May 2011, Dr. Fitzgerald has been contributing to numerous research projects including our work on text-complexity in beginning-reader texts.  She also has been sharing our research findings through journals and presentations at both national and international conferences.

Learn more about Dr. Fitzgerald here.

TextProject: Bringing High Levels of Literacy

An exciting new series of webinars is now being offered thanks to the efforts of TextProject, a site developed by Dr. Elfrieda Hiebert, leading reading researcher and educator.  Devoted to bringing beginning and struggling readers to high levels of literacy through a variety of strategies and tools, particularly the texts used for reading instruction, TextProject now makes available to all of us the insights of influential educational experts.

From the TextProject site: This series of webinars on the Common Core State Standards offers educators the chance to hear from, and talk with experts who served in advisory roles to the CCSS development team.  In their webinars, experts will discuss the knowledge base of the original CCSS report, ancillary documents, reports of foundations and policy groups, current implemation projects, and newly published research.  The webinars will give educators the opportunity to focus on the core goals of the CCSS and to chart a course that supports literacy levels needed for the 21st century.

The first webinar, Research and the Common Core: Can the Romance Survive? by award-winning researcher P. David Pearson took place on January 25. Both audio and presentation slides are available at the webinar site.

Make sure to schedule these upcoming web sessions to schedule on your calendar now:

February 27, 2013

CCSS and Education Policy

Dr. Timothy Shanahan, University of Illinois at Chicago

March 26, 2013

Quantitative Measurement of Text Complexity

Dr. Elfrieda H. Hiebert, TextProject, & University of California, Santa Cruz

April 24, 2013

Key Shifts in Assessment and Instruction Related to CCSS-ELA

Dr. Karen K. Wixon, University of Michigan

May 30, 2013

Informational Text and the CCSS: Pitfalls and Potential

Dr. Nell K. Duke, University of Michigan

New Lexile.com Enhancements Now Available!

Access More, Easier and Faster: Enjoy the New Lexile.com Enhancements Today!

We are constantly developing new ways for our users to utilize the Lexile® Framework for Reading through our website and its’ free resources.  Keeping all of our audience in mind — educators, parents and students — the following features were developed in efforts to enhance your user experience.

  • Buy a book from Amazon with a simple click of the mouse. In partnership with Amazon, we now provide a quick link for you to purchase a desired book from their store. This is in addition to already existing links that allow you to buy a book from Barnes & Noble, or locate a book in the nearest library via WorldCat technology.
  • Save your searches! Have an account? Never redo the same “Find a Book” search again. Registered users can save any of their searches to be revisited in the future.
  • Password protection feature now available to ensure security within your account. Are you a teacher with personalized reading lists for your students? Add privacy for each reader by setting up a password for your students to view their individual reading list.
  • Review your usage history of the Lexile Analyzer® when you are logged into your account. Never remeasure a text again! Simply visit your ‘Usage History’ on the Lexile Analyzer webpage to view your previously analyzed texts (listed by the date they were measured).
  • Better results faster!
    • Search relevancy optimization enables you to enjoy accurately filtered book results. Type a title into the ‘Quick Book Search’ function, and it will appear top of the list!
    • Experience quicker website navigation with engineered improvement to our website powered by Django compressor.

These recently added features are the first wave of many great additions to come in 2013. Educators and parents, we urge you to use Lexile.com and all of its’ free tools to help your reader(s) grow! Be sure to check out the wealth of resources made available to you at www.Lexile.com as the school year progresses, and especially during the summer months.

More Choice, More Books, More Growth

We’ve written before on the remarkable success of myON reader and Capstone Digital’s intent to provide myOn through mobile devices like the Kindle Fire.  Well that initiative has taken off and it appears to be paying dividends for students around the country.  Students in Cheatham County, Tennessee, in particular, are excited about being able to access targeted reading material on their Kindles:

At ACES, Jonet Williams has been thrilled with the response of her students, who look forward to activating their Kindles each day.

Williams likes being able to manage her class work through the Internet.

“I can find out what they’ve read, how much time they’ve spent reading, and see their assessment scores,” she said.

The teachers are also able to see their students’ successes and challenges, using the myON reader as a tool for flagging needs and reflecting ability levels.

“We can choose libraries for them that correlate with what we’re studying,” said Williams, citing a recent reading assignment on Benjamin Franklin and American symbols to reinforce what her students are learning in social studies.

MyON seamlessly blends assessment and instruction for young readers in a digital environment, allowing students to receive updated Lexile measures through their reading experiences.  Based on those updated Lexile measures, students continue to be presented a wider range of targeted texts.  Not only do students receive targeted text, but they exercise choice as well.  MyON allows students to self-select topics of interest to them and students can choose from a long list of subjects.

On a related note, the world of education software has also recognized Capstone for the contribution they’ve made to reading.  MyON recently won a Bessie for the ‘Best Reading Website’ award for upper elementary students.  Congratulations to Capstone on achieving so much in such a short period of time.  We’re proud to partner with an organization so dedicated to getting more students reading everywhere!

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.