professornana (professornana) wrote,

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More about leveling books

Yesterday, I talked about lexiles and how unreliable they can be for selecting books. Today, I wanted to share more information about how CCSS indicates books should be leveled. Here are the new criteria (and can I get a WHAT?WHAT? about changing the levels AFTER they have been published?).

New Text Complexity Bands (2)

Take a look at the row for middle school and note that the reading levels for books for 6-8th graders needs to range between 7.0 and 9.98. What the what? So, if you are a struggling student in middle school, tough luck kiddo. You need to come into 6th grade able to read at the 7th grade reading level. I have been wracking my brains since I saw this and I cannot for the life of me understand the thought process that came up with this. I get the college and career ready stuff (although middle school kids are not really thinking college and careers for them are hardly realistic yet; remember where these kids are from a Piagetian perspective ), really I do. But we now expect kids to come into a grade level already above grade level. This is the stuff of Garrison Keillor's PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION, a town where all the kids are above average. Bell curve be damned!

So, if kids have to be reading at the ATOS levels 7.0-9.98 and the Lexiles need to be 925-1185, what can we offer them? Only TWO of the 75 books already on my best of 2012 list will qualify for middle school. Both are nonfiction (which will delight the CCSS acolytes): WHEELS OF CHANGE by Sue Macy and WITCHES by Rosalyn Schanzer. What did not make the middle school cut: I HUNT KILLERS by Barry Lyga and THE CHILDREN AND THE WOLVES by Adam Rapp both dark, intense, and wonderful books for HIGH SCHOOL. LIFE OF PI will not make the cut on RL, nor HUCK FINN, nor WONDER. And not these: HARRY POTTER, DEAD END IN NORVELT, WHERE THINGS COME BACK, UNDER THE MESQUITE, THE LIONS OF LITTLE ROCK or INSURGENT. I include these titles as they are the ones which either garnered awards (Newbery, Printz, Belpre) or are wildly popular or on the bestseller list. Heck NIGHT is fifth grade readability.

Now, a teacher may use other measures to include a book, but with all of the other "stuff" that is being demanded with these new standards, how will they ever find the time to complete the 12 step process illustrated in one of the training power points I viewed when all this madness began?

Several of us have been chatting on Facebook and on the blog about publishing a sort of THIS I BELIEVE e-book that stands up against this kind of wrong thinking. I will post more about that in the weeks to come. I invite you to join us. As one friend noted last night, in the words of the Beatles, "you say you want a revolution, well you know, we all want to change the world."

Tomorrow I head off to the Rio Grande Valley to offer some FTF workshops for students taking children's and YA lit this semester. The car is packed to the rafters with books. I am taking 3 audiobooks and 4 traditional texts for the 3 day excursion (400 miles down and 400 miles back). Not sure how much I will post at the end of long days, so stay tuned. And thanks for all the discussion taking place. it lets me know people actually read this blog.
Tags: insanity of ccss, reading levels, things that make me scream
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