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What is a Lexile?

I’m coming with you today with a topic that a lot of parents find themselves Googling at one point or another because it often comes home on reading reports. I wonder, have you ever heard of Lexiles before?

Many schools and teachers are using Lexile scores these days to assess student reading levels. The Lexile Framework helps pair readers with books and articles appropriate for their reading level. Sound like an amazing tool?

It totally is! However, Lexiles do have their limitations in my opinion.

Let me break it down for you:

Why Lexiles are a good idea:

The Lexile framework allows students and teachers to have the knowledge they need to help hit that sweet spot so that students are reading materials that will help them grow in their reading skills, while also not frustrating them. I’m not going to go into all of the technical parts and history of the Lexile Framework because this is an intro for those of us who don’t need to be experts on it to use it efficiently and effectively.

Lexile scores are super useful for selecting reading material for instruction. Lexile scores are not good for helping students to select their own reading material ALL THE TIME. (There needs to be a balance for students to have opportunities to pick out books leveled for them AND books that interest them, regardless of the book’s reading level.

Why Lexile scores are not ideal:

I believe strongly that children should read books that they love. I'll say it again for the people in the back. KIDS. SHOULD. READ. BOOKS. THEY. ARE. INTERESTED. IN.

Many teachers have vast libraries of sorted leveled books and so students have great choices. One problem is that this system often goes away after elementary school and so older students are not continually supported with this framework- and they should be, especially if they are struggling readers. This kind of knowledge is power and when given to older students, will give them even more power to BE readers because it will help them to bravely choose appropriate books within their zones of learning proximity. Of course, Lexiles should always be looked at in a positive way and never as a pass, fail, below, or above symbol. It takes great teachers to allow students to feel empowered by their scores, rather than discouraged if they are below a peer or below grade level. Overall, in many schools and settings, there’s a lack of support for this framework for older students and I can see where it could be really beneficial to them.

On another note, I do disagree with strongly focusing on these scores because, to reiterate, I believe wholeheartedly that students should love what they read.

Another issue is that Lexile scores can be very hard to guess and so teachers should never discourage students from reading a book that they want to read.

The fact that a student desires to read is way more powerful than their perceived or measured reading level.

Often times, adult books are lower Lexile levels than children’s books. For example, The Color Purple by Alice Walker is scored at 670, while Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney is 1060! (You can find more information and search Lexile levels at

So, to wrap up, if your child wants to read an autobiography of a YouTuber and you know that it is clean and censored, LET. THEM. READ. IT. And. . . Celebrate and be excited about their choice to read!

What’s your child been reading lately? Tell me in the comments!

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