Recently I was assigned to post about my progress in my course's online forum. The assignment included posting a brief background of the topic and an update on what I have done so far. Our professor encouraged us to ask our classmates for support so that, as MLS students, we could dip into more than one subject area.
Here is what I posted:
I'm looking at how the lexile system is used to monitor student reading in schools. My primary question is, "Is the lexile system effective?" Secondarily, I'd like to explore alternatives and see if any of them are MORE effective. The second part is really where I could use help. Do any of you have experience with alternatives to the lexile system? Professor Kramer suggested looking at Fountas and Pinnell, so that's where I'm starting, but I'm definitely open to other suggestions. I feel like the wider my field, the better feel for alternatives I'll be able to offer.
As for where I'm at right now, I'm honestly off to a pretty slow start. I'm doing lots of reading about the lexile system to make sure I understand the ins and outs, but its not exactly fascinating reading. I'm kind of wishing I had picked a more "fun" topic, but this one is important to my real-life job, so I'll stick it out. :)
Several of my classmates responded with useful suggestions. Sarah wrote, "The district here uses the Fountas and Pinnell Guided Reading System. Unfortunately, I really only have experience helping parents and children find books that are the appropriate level." We don't use the system at the [public] library, so I do have to do a bit of searching to find books in the collection that match the reading level the patron is at. I can't really speak to its efficiency as a system, but I can say it's easier for me to help a patron who is looking for a level G book than a patron who is 'looking for a book for a first grader.'"
Another classmate, Anne, told me about a different experience. She wrote, "Some of our area schools have started using Reading A-Z in favor of AR or lexile where students move up in levels and there are assessments. It also relates to Common Core. It might be something else to consider in your research. Unfortunately, like Sarah, we don't use the system at the [public] library so we have trouble finding books that match the level students are in as well. The system uses its own readers so it can be tricky to give parents and patrons options to find books in the same level."
A third classmate, Ashley, also a children's librarian in a public library, shared her experiences. She wrote, "I would definitely agree with Professor Kramer. I used to think the AR system was the best, but recently, I've found that the Fountas and Pinnell system is very good at dividing up the levels. I'm also used to telling parents whose children are just starting to read to look at the Easy Readers and start at level 1. I'm now finding that many level 1's have paragraphs and large words! The Fountas and Pinnell is really good at saying THESE books are level A and at the very beginning of the reading spectrum. Also, instead of saying a child should be reading four level 4 books in AR, which can span from 4.0-4.9, it again gives a specific letter instead of a range."
Based on this feedback, I had some ideas on alternate programs to explore, as well as the pros and cons of each.