Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Reading Level Help

Today I'd like to show you a website that can help with reading levels. This site is especially helpful for kiddos who are reading independently. Later this week I'll have a post about emergent readers--like Little Bit--who are just learning.

The site is http://www.lexile.com/. My sister is a middle school reading teacher and she's had tons of training on using Lexile levels. We don't need to have tons of training to use this site. We're smart. We can figure it out. (Plus we aren't trying to teach and track the progress of 100+ disrespectful and disinterested students, but anyway...)

In Texas we aren't required to give standardized tests to our children, but some of you are. On the Lexile site, it lists the tests that will automatically give you a Lexile level for your child. Sweetheart has taken the ITBS for 2 years so I have a Lexile level from her 3rd grade test. Too bad I didn't actually know about that when she was in 3rd grade!

The state tests are listed here and the norm-referenced, etc. tests (like the ITBS) are found here. So if your child has taken one of those tests recently, you should be able to find a Lexile level for them on the results. If not, fear not! You can still find a Lexile range for your child.

See my lovely red circle? This is where you can go to find all about it. It's short. Won't take you a second to read.

There are several options now. You can enter your child's Lexile level if you know it (see red arrow below). Or, you can enter some information (see red circle) and go that way.

For me, because we know our "students" SO very well, there is an easier way. At the top right hand side of the screen above, there is an option to Look up a Book. Let's try that way.

I mentioned in the last post that Magic Tree House books are really easy for Sweetheart. Let's put one of those in and see what we get.

OK. I put in the title Night of the Ninjas and found out that the Lexile level for that book is 280.

So there you go! Isn't that handy? Just kidding. Now how do we find out what 280 means? The Lexile Map of course! You're going to want to print this baby out. You can find it under the heading "TOOLS" at the top of the website.

Here's the map:

This map covers everything from 1st grade reading level to graduate school. Hmm...I wonder where I would fall on this? I guess all I have to do is type in Gulliver's Travels (and find my version--there are tons) and then I would know my "hard" level, huh? Sigh. There are titles on the map to be used as examples of that level, but you will be looking at the numbers and grade levels along the left side of the map.

So, when I check the map for the 280 level of Sweetheart's book, I find out that Night of the Ninjas is a 1st grade level book. Ha!!! I don't know many 1st graders who could read that book, but it might explain why it's easy for Sweetheart. I don't know, it's a high 1st grade level and I have known some students over the years who could have read that book by the end of the year.

So now I need to plug in a book that is harder for Sweetheart. A friend passed some books about horses to us recently. I picked one up just now and used the five finger rule while Sweetheart read a random page. Yep, too hard. I looked it up on Lexile and found out the level is 890.

Checking the Lexile Map, I find that a level of 890 is considered to be between a 5th and 6th grade level. So now I know approximately where her hard level is. (Of course I would want to type in a variety of titles, not just 2.)


It helps by giving me a clue when I pick a book if it is appropriate to her ability. I usually don't assign a lot of reading to Sweetheart because we pretty much have to smack the books out of her hands to get her attention as it is, but every few weeks I like her to read a book for school.

For example, a friend recently suggested that Sweetheart might enjoy reading Little Women. I checked it out on Lexile and found out the original book is at a 1300 level. Um, that's not going to work. But, there is another version at a 700 level (4th grade). Perfect.

I also tested a little girl yesterday who read between a 1st and 2nd grade level. Today I was reading Curious George Flies a Kite to Little Bit and wondered if that little girl would be able to read that book well. Check it out on Lexile......and it's between a 2nd and 3rd grade level. Still, having read with this little girl, I think she could do it. Each book you read with your child, or have them narrate to you to check for understanding, gives you another bit of knowledge about their reading level. All this can be very helpful when selecting books.

In my case, I use it to raise Sweetheart's reading level. She is perfectly happy reading Magic Tree House and Berenstain Bears books, but I now know these are NOT challenging her in any way. Neither do I want to drive her batty giving her WAY too hard of books to read. But, she needs higher level books and it's my job to find them. Lexile.com helps me do that.

There are a lot of helpful things on the Lexile site. I know that no chart beats experience so read with and listen to your children read often. Hope this helps!


  1. Okay wow. That was a lot of information and I will have to read it again, my head hurts (not from the info- it just hurts) but I shall be looking up lexile tommorow.. I will let you know what it is. BUT if I do that does it mean you dont need to test EMily again, cuz I want a professional! :)

    BTW.. you did explain it VERY well, it was just a lot of info.

  2. It IS a lot. Especially if one's head hurts. :) It's really friendly once you play around with it. It does a lot of really cool things but the main thing I do is just type in titles and see where they fall on the map.

    Yes,I will test Em again. I'd like to see her progress from last year!

  3. cool. lets set a time, after the freezing weather goes away!!!

  4. Love this! sheesh, where were you 8 years ago....this would have been so helpful then! Ofcourse, it is still useful, just not for my was struggling reader who is now about to graduate. =) Thanks for the info! You're awesome!

  5. Hi:

    Thanks for the info. I just got a lexile score for my 6th grader. His range was 1526-1676 and his RIT score was 257 (btw this is in MD). It looks like this is pretty good, but what worries me is that he had the exact same score last year in 5th grade. In other words it seems like he is stagnating... How reasonable is it to expect year over year increases at this level? Maybe your sister knows... Thanks in advance.

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I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)