Using Lexile Reading Measures to Improve Literacy

The Lexile Framework utilizes reading comprehension tests, the analysis of the reading difficulty of books and a common scale of Rasch-based linear measurement that links the two, thus putting books and readers on the same metric. As a result, the days of confusing norm-referenced tests results that have limited practical applications for students, parents and teachers are gone. Libraries and private bookstores can now capitalize on that scale by providing books that will best help readers at all levels. A common Lexile-based framework can now link the schools, homes and libraries. Lexiles themselves are linear measures that are directly computed from a readability formula, but which can also be verified as to value and linearity from response-level data.

Educators in the nation's fourth largest school district were searching for tools that would help them implement a strategy to improve literacy among thousands of students. They also needed a bridge between the school and the home in order to encourage more parental involvement. Further, they wanted to find ways to develop a private-public partnership by enlisting the help of the business community. The Lexile Framework helped provide the answers to those needs, and the Miami-Dade County school district is on its way to building the first Lexile-linked community. "This kind of public-private partnership can only be a boost to our efforts to improve literacy," said Ms. Norma B. Bossard, District Director of the Miami-Dade County School's Division of Language Arts and Reading.

A similar effort also is underway for the city of Atlanta schools and its 60,000 students. "We want our children to love reading books, and we believe this comprehensive plan will help us achieve that goal," said Dr. Regina Johnson, the Language Arts Coordinator for the Atlanta schools. "We were very impressed by the concept of Lexiles because of its method of testing and also the Lexiling of titles. We felt a real need to diagnose the student's ability to read and to assign reading levels. Then we can use books in our schools and libraries (and bookstores) in order to meet their needs."

Through the Lexile Framework, instruction and assessment are finally brought together - not only in school but also at home and at work. "Historically, parents haven't been given the tools through standardized tests to help change children's behavior," said Malbert Smith III, president of MetaMetrics, Inc. which developed the Lexile Framework. "The results of these tests, be they percentiles or whatever, couldn't be used by parents. How could a child's percentile score help a parent or teacher or student develop a plan for improvement when the percentile had no real-life application? "With the Lexile Framework, the student knows what materials he or she can read based on the Lexile score, where that score ranks on our scale of educational development, and what books he or she can read in order to improve and move up the scale. Schools now have a tool for parental involvement."

Schools aren't alone in this endeavor. Barnes & Noble and independently owned Books & Books agreed to put on their shelves books that had been screened and recommended as part of the Miami-Dade initiative. Two of the world's largest book distributors, Baker & Taylor and Ingram Book Company, also have agreed to participate, making sure they had Lexile-linked books in their inventory for rapid delivery. Scholastic, Inc. is MetaMetrics' largest publishing partner, having contracted for the measurement of more than 4,000 titles.

The United States Department of Education has endorsed the Lexile Framework as part of its "America Reads" program. MetaMetrics is working with the state of California to lexile its recommended reading list. Harcourt-Brace Educational Measurement has contracted with MetaMetrics for the right to report the results of two of its standardized tests in Lexile measures, because Lexile units have more general meaning than the test scores themselves.

Rick R. Smith
MetaMetrics Inc.
Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

Using Lexile reading measures to improve literacty.Smith R.R. … Rasch Measurement Transactions, 1998, 12:3 p. 644.


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Rasch Models: Foundations, Recent Developments, and Applications, Fischer & Molenaar Journal of Applied Measurement Rasch models for measurement, David Andrich Constructing Measures, Mark Wilson Rasch Analysis in the Human Sciences, Boone, Stave, Yale
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