Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Retrieving: An Inside View of Lexile Measures

Today I read an interview with Malbert Smith III, the president of MetaMetrics.  The interview was conducted by Carl A. Harvey II, who was the AASL President-Elect at the time the article was written.  The article is entitled "An Inside View of Lexile Measures."  I thought it was a significant article because it focused on how the use of lexiles impacts school librarians.

The article began with what I am now thinking of as the "typical" information about the history of the Lexile Framework and how Lexile measures are determined.

I was interested to note that Smith did state that he did not feel that it was in any way necessary for libraries to organize their materials by Lexile.  My library does organize our early readers by Lexiles, and this has been a source of conflict for me since I inherited the collection.  Since our school does not have another leveled collection, I can see why the previous librarian did this, but it's interesting to note that Smith comments that organization by Lexile is not necessary because "items are cataloged in the automated system" (58) and that librarians should "protect the main library collection from being rearranged" (58).

Later in the interview, Harvey raised these significant questions:
"What do you think about students having free choices in selecting their reading materials?  Should they always remain in their Lexile range?"(58).

I was extremely interested to read Smith's answer.  He said:
"A student should be able to choose what he or she wants to read, regardless of whether that book or article is in his or her recommended Lexile range. . . . In no way should a Lexile measure or Lexile range be used to dictate what a student can and cannot read.  Students can certainly read books above or below their Lexile range" (58).

He goes on to qualify that books below the range may not offer enough of a challenge and books above the range may be too challenging.   However, it's incredibly important to note that even the creator of the Lexile system champions allowing students to read the materials that interest them, regardless of Lexile measure.  Student interest should guide selection.  Teachers would do well to take note of this portion of the interview.

Smith goes on to state:
"While a Lexile measure is a valuable piece of information in the book-selection process, it's important to note that the Lexile measure is only one piece of information to consider when selecting a book for a specific student.  Other factors, such as the content and quality of the text, and the student's interests and reading goals, should also be considered.  A Lexile measure is a great starting point, but it is not intended to replace the role of an educator, librarian, or parent in helping students pick books that will support growth toward the reading demands of their future endeavors" (59).

Further in the article, Smith adds:
"Of course, we should never discourage pleasure reading, even when those books are well below the student's Lexile measure" (59).

Based solely on this interview, I'm feeling some of my previous frustration with the Lexile Framework fading. :)

Harvey II, Carl A.  "An Inside View of Lexile Measures: An Interview with Malbert Smith III."  Knowledge Quest.  Mar/Apr 2011, Vol. 39 Issue 4, p 56-59.

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