professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Professionally speaking

The latest issue of AMERICAN LIBRARIES has a 2 page "opinion" piece on Reading Levels. In truth it is not a GUIDE TO READING LEVELS as the title indicates. Nor does it offer the sort of opinion I would like to see from the American Library Association. Instead, it is a brief history of the roots and development of readability formulas. It mentions that many schools have "adopted" AR and RC as computerized reading programs (more about this in a moment). Granted, the piece does say that readability formulas are not sophisticated enough to measure the complexity of the content (though I think there are some folks with the CCSS who might disagree since they certainly rely heavily on ATOS and Lexiles). The opinion piece ends with some advice. Some of the advice made me wince. This author suggests making sure the library catalog and web site provide links to the computerized reading programs local schools use and that librarians train parents to use these links to locate the book's "value" in termos of points and quizzes. The final piece of advice is a good one: authors do not write books for a targeted level.

There is just so much here that is a disappointment to me (and I am willing to bet I am not alone in this). Why take 2 pages (a second page shows the differing levels and lexiles for some popular books) and not spend some more time decrying this leveling of books, this distillation of the value of a book to the points one can accrue on the quiz? How about spending time discussing why ANY library shold refuse to put stickers on books with lexiles and levels? Why not talk about the narrowing of our kids' reading because of reliance on a number system? Why not discuss how instead of purchasing the quizzes, your library buys, oh let's say, BOOKS instead? Why not give more examples to demonstrate conclusively that levels and lexiles often lead kids to books for which they are not yet developmentally prepared (one example of how confusing all this is from the article points to THE COLOR PURPLE WITH A 4.0 rl ACCORDING TO ar AND A 7.2 GRADE LEVEL ACCORDING TO rc AND A LEXILE OF 670)?

I expect more from my professional journals. Most of them are disappointing of late since the focus seems to have become CCSS and anything related to it (i.e., close reading, nonfiction to name just two). There seems to be little push back from the professional organizations themselves. Perhaps this is a good time to mention that a group of colleagues will be presenting a session at NCTE in Boston. Here is the info from The Rebel Base (our own nickname):


I.43 No One Cares What You Think or Feel: Talking Back to the Common Core Standards
Location: Sheraton Sheraton/Independence Ballroom East, Second Floor

Come and join in the conversation. We need to speak up, to SpeakLoudly, about issues that impact us and, more importantly, the kids.
Tags: ccss, levels, lexiles, ncte, rebels

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