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.

In Her Own Words: The Lexile Framework for Reading

We love hearing from teachers on the ways they’ve utilized the Lexile Framework for Reading to support reading growth.  Of special significance to us is hearing teachers describe their successes and their understanding of the Framework in their own words.  That’s why we were thrilled to read this recent piece (subscription required) from educator, Margaret Reed in Kodiak, Alaska:

Last month, I talked about three key ingredients that, when mixed together by a student, create a recipe for reading success.  First is reading practice, third is feedback concerning the effectiveness of the reading practice.  I’d like to focus on the second ingredient:  awareness of the level of text you are choosing to read.

When you pick up a book, how do you know if you will understand most, all, or none of what you are reading? If you are told you are reading at the third grade level, how do you use that information to help you choose text you know you will understand? When you look at a book, what can you use to predict how well you will understand that book?  The Lexile Framework provides a tool to help answer these questions!

Margaret goes on to do a nice job describing some of the more technical aspects of the Framework and even includes information on using the Lexile measure in an instructional setting.

If you’ve seen instances of great ways to introduce educators and parents to the Lexile Framework for Reading, feel free to pass along.  We’re always eager to hear how our metrics are being put to use and helping students around the globe.

More Innovation in the Classroom

Here’s yet another example of a school using an innovative approach to improve student reading scores:

After noticing an uptick in ELL and other students with below average reading scores at his school, Skip Johnson, principal at El Crystal Elementary in San Bruno, CA, created a forward-thinking reading program pairing iPods and print books that has helped to successfully boost reading comprehension scores among non proficient readers.

The idea for letting struggling readers follow print and iPod audiobooks simultaneously was first sparked when Johnson was browsing the iTunes store trying to spend a $50 iTunes giftcard–a generous gift from a teacher. “I happened to notice audiobooks for sale and I went, ‘Hmm, there are a lot of books here that kids want to read,” he said.

Whether he knows it or not, Johnson’s program capitalizes on multiple avenues of research: the importance of reading outside the classroom, the power of self-selection and allowing students to pick what they read, the significance of utilizing technology as an always-on solution, the impact of audio learning, and, of course, the importance of targeting students at their own reading level:

With help from his colleagues, Johnson curated hundreds of audiobooks on a sliding scale arranged by lexile level. Students check out books from the library and take them home to read, following along with the audio loaded on school-owned iPods. When students finish, they take a Scholastic Reading Counts quiz to test their comprehension. After passing, they can progress to another book on the playlist, often at a higher level of difficulty.

Johnson obviously realizes the importance of targeting readers as a way to improve their reading ability.  And utilizing technology to provide audio-scaffolding ensures that each student receives an individualized approach to their reading growth.  Kudos to teachers like Johnson for blending multiple lines of research into a concrete, practical classroom strategy for improving student reading ability – one that appears to be working very well.

Less Than Prepared

Here’s an interesting new study out from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) examining the preparedness of Texas students for college-level reading.  Researchers used the Lexile measure to gauge both student reading level and the demands of entry level college reading in English.  Unfortunately, they found that many 11th grade Texas students, particularly among a number of sub-groups, are unprepared for the rigorous requirements of college level work.  Most striking in the report was the depth of the analysis and its meticulous drill down on the readiness of a wide variety of sub-groups.  Though the report found a wide pattern of unpreparedness, a few findings stand out:

  • Economically disadvantaged students were less prepared than those who were not economically disadvantaged.
  • At risk students were less prepared than those who were not at risk.
  • Students taking at least one career and technical education course were slightly less prepared than those not taking such a course.

Read the whole report for a more detailed analysis. 

It’s worth noting that one of the benefits of the Lexile Framework – as the study authors acknowledge – is its easy accessibility as a tool for measuring growth toward college and career readiness.  Because we know the typical reading level of college level text , we have an end point in mind by which to assess growth.  And the Lexile Framework is an especially useful tool for establishing an aspirational trajectory and then responding with increased instruction and remediation for students on a trajectory to fall short of college preparedness.  The Lexile Framework – when coupled with sound instructional practices is not only a tool to measure growth, but to match students to targeted, though challenging, text as well.  Let’s hope teachers across the nation can put this tool to use for all students, particularly those on a trajectory to be unprepared for life after high school.

 

Helping More Readers Read More

We’re always excited about anything that gets students reading more.  That’s why we were so pleased to see this recent write-up, in Publishers Weekly, reporting that Capstone Digital now has over 700,000 students reading through myOn.  MyOn provides students with access to thousands of digital titles targeted to their own individual reading level (based on their Lexile measure) and interest.  Best of all, because myOn has embedded an assessment into the reading experience, students are continually provided new titles as their reading level grows.  And because myOn is available online, students are assured always-on access; meaning they are not limited to reading only while on campus.  And interest continues to grow:

Since its launch, myOn has helped increase the circulation of digital titles. In communities like Charleston, S.C., which has adopted the platform, the library circulation for digital books was more than 30 times that for print books. Said Brekhus, “Making the books accessible anytime, anywhere allowed children to read more books digitally than they had access to in print.”

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.

Fulfilling the Promise of the Common Core

Our own Malbert Smith just released a new policy brief: Fulfilling the Promise of the Common Core.  Smith outlines some of the major challenges facing educators, including the imperative to ensure that students are graduating college and career ready.  An important component of ensuring steady progress toward college and career readiness is facilitating student reading growth throughout a student’s entire academic career.  Otherwise, students unable to handle grade-level material by high school face an enormous challenge in trying to ‘catch-up’ by time of graduation. 

Smith outlines two important strategies for ensuring students remain on track for life after high school – extended instructional time and personalized learning:

The “New Normal” requires us to find innovative solutions to eliminate the readiness gap. There are two promising, cost-effective strategies that can help us achieve the Common Core within today’s financial and time parameters: personalized learning platforms and summer reading. Both approaches support “blended learning,” which Michael Horn defines as: “any time a student learns at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home and at least in part through online delivery with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace” (Horn, 2011).

Be sure to read the whole thing.

Compass Media & MetaMetrics: Teaming Up in Korea

Compass Media, publishing company and leader in English education, and MetaMetrics are teaming up to help young learners build English skills with books published in Korea. Announced last week, this promising partnership adds Lexile measures to the publisher’s English language books. Compass Media will apply The Lexile Framework to 420 fiction and non-fiction books by mid-year 2012.

 Utilizing The Lexile Framework, Compass Media will connect young learners with the most beneficial resources to optimize their English development. MetaMetrics is proud to be working with Compass Media on improving education for young English learners.

Welcome Back: Starting with Success

A brand new school year is here, offering teachers, students, and parents the opportunity for a fresh and positive outlook for the coming months in the classroom. In the article Starting the School Year Right in the August edition of The School Administrator, Thomas R. Guskey emphasizes that the first two weeks of school are critical for students and parents to feel good about what the students know and what is possible to achieve in the coming months.

Many teachers try to formally or informally assess the ability level of students at the beginning of the school year.  But Guskey cautions that the first assessments need to “help students experience successful learning” during the first two weeks of the year.   It may be important for the educator to firmly establish what students know rather than what they don’t know.

Guskey’s right.  Educators can help put students at ease early in the year by ensuring that the material they receive is at or near their ability level.  With regards to reading, many students across the United States are assessed in the spring and many states report Lexile measures as an indication of a student’s reading level.  The student Lexile measure allows educators to match students to targeted material, a useful way to develop student confidence and promote motivation. 

Because reading levels in a single classroom vary considerably, teachers would be well-advised to differentiate material so that students are able understand the text and experience success.  The Lexile Framework for Reading offers tools to measure text as well as ‘Find a Book’ tool, which provides the Lexile measures of trade books and textbooks in all kinds of categories and genres. Matching the text measure to a student Lexile measure can be a strong asset for helping struggling readers be successful.

Similar to the Lexile scale, the Quantile Framework for Mathematics utilizes a scale that places the math level of students and the difficulty of the math skills and concepts on the same scale.   The Quantile measure for specific mathematics skills and concepts can be found at the Quantile website where the topics are aligned to state standards as well as to the Common Core State Standards.

When student Quantile measures are available from state assessments or other products aligned to the Quantile Framework, then targeting student needs in the mathematics classroom becomes much more manageable, allowing content to be tailored to the student ability level as well.

Dr. Guskey offers numerous suggestions for facilitating positive experiences for students. Critical stakeholders include not only students and teachers, but also parents and administrators. This community of supporters has a strong influence over the long-term success of our children. We often speak of differentiating instruction to meet the needs of our students. But differentiating can mean much more to the students if they recognize their abilities and use that information to grow into motivated and self-assured students throughout their academic career.

Summer Literacy Adventure Revisited

Here’s yet another example of local media outlets shining a light on the good work the Florida Department of Education is doing with their Summer Literacy Adventure:

Martin County High, South Fork High, and Jensen Beach High are all three of the high schools in the Martin County School District that are actively participating in this year’s “Summer Literacy Adventure”.  This reading initiative by the Florida Department of Education (partnered with Martin County Library Systems) is designed to help students stay on target, stay motivated, and stay excited about reading and literacy.

…According to the press release, to participate in the Summer Literacy Adventure students can visit the Just Read, Florida website at www.justreadflorida.com to take the pledge.  Students who take the pledge may also utilize a free online tool to search for books based on their reading ability and interests.  The DOE, through MetaMetrics, offers a unique resource called “Find a Book, Florida” at http://florida.lexile.comthat uses Lexile measures, a widely adopted reading metric that can guide a reader to an appropriate level book.

It’s good to see that Martin County School District is pushing to keep students reading over the summer.  And kudos to the local media for reminding parents of the access to free resources right at their fingertips.

Year Round Learning: the Freedom of Digital Access

We’ve mentioned the proliferation of e-books in the marketplace and the profound impact they are already having in the sphere of education.  Recently, the School Library Journal also made note of this trend, and explored its implications in schools and libraries across the nation. As SLJ reported, “…a majority of elementary school librarians said they either will (18 percent) or may (46 percent) purchase ebooks in the next two years.”  This shift could bring significant changes to the way students and parents access the resources their school provides. 

Checking out books from the school library will start to take on a new meaning as more teachers and parents insist on 24/7 access in school and at home.  Instead of waiting for library day at school, students can log in at any time…and browse digital bookshelves.  In some media centers, children may be able to borrow Nooks and iPads to take home.

And digital libraries would be free of the constraints of the traditional school year calendar.  We’ve long been proponentsof increasing students’ access to books, particularly during the summer months.  Unlike a conventional library system, access to ebooks provides students with the resources of their school’s library year-round, and at the touch of a button.

SLJ also points to “states and school districts [that] are starting to make deals with ebook companies to provide yearly subscriptions to thousands of students at a time.”  As most states face dramatic budget cuts, such deals may make increases in book selections possible for school libraries that could not otherwise afford to expand their collections. 

As we pointed out, Capstone Digital launched its myOn readerearlier this year with great success.  This personalized reading platform provides access to thousands of ebooks and incorporates the power of the Lexile Framework for Reading – not only providing students always-on digital access, but allowing them to read targeted text within their area of interest.

Publishers, like Capstone Digital, and many others, are making great strides in ensuring that students have access to books year round.  Digital access means that students across the socio-economic spectrum are free from the constraints of calendar and location and have the ability to keep reading and learning all year long.

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.