Figure 1 is the Lexile Chart. As you can see, lexiles for each grade level band have INCREASED. In some cases, the Lexile levels are over 100 points higher than before. Based on the old figures, I did some searching on Lexile.com for its "recommendations" of books within the range on a couple of different genres/subjects. Look at what that netted me.
Do you see the problem? The titles that are being given when I enter the data are NOT developmentally appropriate for the ages of the readers. The fact that they will most likely not be engaging is something else, but I am concerned right now about appropriateness for the audience. Of course, CCSS indicates we should use multiple measures: ATOS (this is the RL program used by Accelerated Reader. I will post about that separately tomorrow. But if you read this blog, you know the rant.) and other canned readability formulae. As a matter of fact, a recent "article" from Reading Renaissance claimed it was better (it being the computer) at selecting the right books for kids than teachers were (really?).
Here is my concern: if someone is to rely on these scientific measures to find that "just right book," kids will be the big losers (well, so will a love of reading). Applying scientific measures to an artistic product is just madness. How can one template be overlaid onto the other with any chance at accuracy? Here are a few examples of current books and their lexile levels (where available as lexiles cannot be assessed for some formats and genres).
THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN: 570 means this can only be used in grades 2-3 (and the readability puts it at 3.6) unless you want to go through the process of demonstrating why it should be placed higher
Here are a handful of books in the 800 range of Lexile (4-5th grade):
INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN
THE HUNGER GAMES
THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO
THE CHOCOLATE WAR
I don't know about you, but I do not think I would use any of these with 4-5th graders. Even THE ASTONISHING LIFE OF OCTAVIAN NOTHING, a book that I read with dictionary close by (you want to talk about close reading...) scores only 1090. And I WANT MY HAT BACK is a measly 90 on the Lexile range which means I could not use it with any grade level. SIGH.
Now, I know what some will say: these could be used to pleasure reading where levels, etc. do not count. Or, you COULD use them if you went through the process of demonstrating how they are complex and rigorous. The problem is with all teachers have to do with this new curriculum, how will they find time? The answer will be, more than likely, to fall back to those dreadful exemplar texts in many cases.
So, teachers, turn to your librarians, please, for their help. Head over to Slideshare (www.slideshare.net/professornana) and look at my power points of good books. Read blogs for good books. Read Twitter (and #titletalk is this Sunday) and Facebook for recommendations. Scour the listservs. We need to keep one another apprised of the new stuff that will resonate with our kids. And BTW, a reminder that my book is blog is here:
Keep the faith, folks. Light a candle (and go ahead and curse these blasted measures).