Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lexile Measures (Common Core Standards)

The Common Core Standards mention Lexile numbers for different grade levels, as a way to measure the complexity level of the texts given to students. As explained on the Lexile Measures website, "[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."* They are computer-generated numbers, after the text is analyzed for sentence length and vocabulary.

The Lexile system is set up to target a 75% comprehension: "[f]or example, if a reader has a Lexile measure of 1000L, he will be forecasted to comprehend approximately 75 percent of a book with the same Lexile measure (1000L)"*, in order to encourage the student’s reading skills. If a student understood 100% of the book they read, they would not be challenged and thus would not improve their reading. At the same time, making comprehension more difficult (at 50%, for example) would be discouraging, and students might lose the desire to continue reading.

A word of caution: the content of the book is not taken into account in the Lexile measure. Moreover, missing punctuations in the text submitted to the Analyzer can greatly influence results.

It means that we get measures like these, at the 500-750 range, which is designed to cover students from 3rd to 5th grades:
500 Judy Moody saves the world (McDonald)
550 Thirteen Reasons Why (Asher) --- book about high school, rape and suicide.
560 The Lorax (Dr. Seuss)
600 The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Alexie) --- book mentions racist points of view, offensive language, violence and sexual content.
630 Of Mice and Men (Steinbeck) --- includes profanity, racial slurs, and violence.
680 Charlotte’s Web (White)

So the Lexile measures are not without fault; they can be a good starting point to assess a book or match books to a particular student’s level, but, as always, common sense and flexibility are necessary to make a good match.

Lexile thus allows you to assess both books and students to match one with the others.

To assess students:
"The California Reading List (CRL) number denotes a reader's Lexile zone. For example, a CRL number 8 means that books in the Lexile zone of 800L to 890L are well-targeted for independent reading." Look for the California Reading List number on their STAR report or on Illuminate. I have created a Google Doc spreadsheet with current students' CRL numbers for the past three years, so that you can see their progression. I can share it with you if you would like it, on Google Doc and/or as an Excel document.

You can thus use the California Reading Lists and the Lexile measures for struggling readers as well as for advanced readers, to quickly assess their reading level and find materials that will be a better match for them.

California Reading List Number / Lexile Range correspondance*:

CRL NumberUnderlying Lexile Range
01199 or below
02200 - 299
03300 - 399
04400 - 499
05500 - 599
06600 - 699
07700 - 799
08800 - 899
09900 - 999
101000 - 1099
111100 - 1199
121200 - 1299
131300 - above

These are the measures that most students should be at, at mid-year, and the measures of texts that can be given to each grade*:

GradeReader Measures, Mid-Year
25th percentile to 75th percentile (IQR)
2012 CCSS Text Measures*
1Up to 300L190L to 530L
2140L to 500L420L to 650L
3330L to 700L520L to 820L
4445L to 810L740L to 940L
5565L to 910L830L to 1010L
6665L to 1000L925L to 1070L
7735L to 1065L970L to 1120L
8805L to 1100L1010L to 1185L
9855L to 1165L1050L to 1260L
10905L to 1195L1080L to 1335L
11 and 12940L to 1210L1185L to 1385L

To assess books and texts:
Go to, where you have a couple of tools available to you:
-Use the "Find a Book" feature allows to search for books either by Lexile measure/range or by grade.

-Create a free profile, which will allow you to:
-get the databases of Lexile measures for English and Spanish titles
-use the analyzer (tips: try different parts of the same text, and make sure that the text you submit is the exact copy of the original, down to each period).

We also have Lexile numbers at NCS:
In the Destiny catalog, click on “Natomas Charter School”. You can search by Lexile numbers/range, or you can look up a title and see if there is a Lexile number for it.

In CaliforniaLearns: (teachers) and (students)
EBSCO Student Research Center, History Reference Center, Kids Search include Lexile number for their articles.


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