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What are Lexile Scores?

A child's Lexile score can help identify appropriate books.
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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 25 March 2014
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If you are the parent of a school-aged child, you may have already heard of Lexile scores. Lexiles refer to a measurement of reading abilities based on the Lexile Framework for Reading, a nationally accepted scale designed to measure text and reading abilities. Lexile scores are used by educators not only to measure and track a child's reading ability and progress, but also to help them choose appropriate reading material for their abilities, hence allowing them to gain practice reading without becoming frustrated by the material.

An individual's Lexile scores are determined by administering a test that measures both recognition and comprehension of text. The scale for Lexile scores ranges from 200L for beginning readers to 1700L for advanced reading material. Once a child's Lexile score is determined, teachers and parents can reference a list of books that fall within the child's reading abilities based on Lexile score. Frequent reading outside of school has been proven to boost academic success, so the selection of appropriate reading material may help a child succeed in school by increasing independent reading.

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Thousands of titles have been indexed on the Lexile scale and most school personnel and even public librarians are familiar with the Lexile Framework. A parent or child can go to the library and easily choose books that are within the child's range of reading abilities, or parents can challenge children to try a book that is indexed slightly above their current Lexile scores. Parents can also ask their child's teacher to provide a suggested reading list based on their child's most recent Lexile scores.

Additionally, many standardized tests are now using the Lexile index to develop tests that are grade appropriate. The comprehension difficulty of text is measured both by word frequency and the length of each sentence. There are also ways for other creators of text, such as children's authors or teachers who design their own tests and worksheets, to measure their material on the Lexile index. This tool, along with additional information, is available at the Lexile Framework for Reading website.

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Discuss this Article

anon179831
Post 3

One of the biggest disadvantages of the system is that it is totally wrong! The book "Bunnicula Strikes Again" (a book about a vampire bunny written for third graders) has a score of 860, which is the same score given to J.R.R. Tolkein's "Fellowship of the Ring."

The fourth book in the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series called the "Ugly Truth" has a score of 1000 while Carl Sagan's "Contact" has 1010.

As a children's librarian in Georgia I have watched this system frustrate parents and turn kids against reading who are told they "can't" read a certain book because it is above or below their score. Dumb!

elizabeth23
Post 2

@accordion, the lexile test score system is fairly recent, first thought of in the 1980s and only formally reviewed in the last ten years. like you, I was simply encouraged to read whatever I was interested in reading, and the supposedly appropriate level books were never a concern for my parents when it came to my reading. While there are pros and cons to this system of reading, I can see why some children might make it a goal of reaching a certain score above the average lexile measure for their grade.

accordion
Post 1

Are lexile scores for books a relatively new thing? I don't recall ever hearing of these when I was in school, although I was always ahead in reading and encouraged to read by my parents, so maybe they just never showed enough concern about my reading to look into it.

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