Dispelling a Few More Misconceptions

In an interview in the most recent edition of Knowledge Quest, our own Malbert Smith tackles the concern that the adoption of the Lexile Framework will require libraries to reorganize their entire library by Lexile levels:

CAH: Some school librarians have been asked to abandon the standard organization of their school libraries in favor or arrangement by Lexile levels.  What are your thoughts about schools that use Lexile levels to rearrange and organize the school library collection?

MS: We do not find it necessary to reorganize a library by Lexile range or level.  Today,  a number of computer catalog providers offer Lexile measures to help guide students to the right reading materials – without actually having to rearrange those materials by Lexile level….What’s important is that the librarian is part of this process.  Items are cataloged in the automated system, and the librarian becomes a source for ordering and organizing the leveled materials.  It may be added work, but librarians can demonstrate that they are providing leveled resources and, at the same time, protect the main library collection from being rearranged.

And in the same interview. Dr. Smith tackles one of the most common misconceptions on the Lexile Framework:

CAH:What do you think about students having free choice in selecting their reading materials?  Should they always remain in their Lexile range?

MS: A student should be able to choose what he or she wants to read, regardless of whether that book or article is in his or her recommended Lexile range.  The Lexile range (100L below and 50L above a student’s Lexile measure) should be considered as a guide to help students select books that offer an appropriate level of challenge for their reading abilities.  In no way should a Lexile measure or a Lexile range be used to dictate what a student can and cannot read.  Students certainly can read books that are above or below their Lexile range.  However, books that are below a student’s Lexile range may offer little challenge in terms of new vocabulary and advanced grammar.  Likewise, books that are above the student’s Lexile range may be to challenging and discourage the student from reading. (emphasis added)

The idea that Lexile measures narrowly constrain readers to a limited range of books is a concern that we hear quite a bit.  But as Smith indicated above, the Lexile measure is intended as a guide, as a starting point for determining if a text is at the appropriate difficulty level for a student.  After all, students selecting books at too low a level are unlikely to be challenged or grow as readers.  On the other hand, students selecting books far too complex for their ability are likely to experience frustration and may even come to associate reading with frustration.  

For a closer look at how Lexile measures do NOT limit a reader’s choice, be sure to check out our latest video.


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