What is a lexile

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What is a lexile? 1

A Lexile measure is a valuable piece of information about either an individual's reading ability or the difficulty of a text, like a book or magazine article. The Lexile measure is shown as a number with an "L" after it — 880L is 880 Lexile.

A student gets his or her Lexile reader measure from a reading test or program. For example, if a student receives an 880L on her end-of-grade reading test, she is an 880 Lexile reader. Higher Lexile measures represent a higher level of reading ability. A Lexile reader measure can range from below 200L for emergent readers to above 1600L for advanced readers. Readers who score below 0L receive a BR for Beginning Reader.

A book, article or piece of text gets a Lexile text measure when it is analyzed by a lexile program.

For example, the first "Harry Potter" book measures 880L, so it is called an 880 Lexile book. A Lexile text measure is based on the semantic and syntactic elements of a text. Many other factors affect the relationship between a reader and a book, including its content, the age and interests of the reader, and the design of the actual book. The Lexile text measure is a good starting point in the book-selection process, with these other factors then being considered. Lexile text measures are rounded to the nearest 10L. Text measures reported below 0L are reported as BR for Beginning Reader.

The idea behind The Lexile Framework for Reading is simple: if we know how well a student can read and how hard a specific book is to comprehend, we can predict how well that student will likely understand the book. For example, if a reader has a Lexile measure of 600L (600 Lexile), the reader will be forecasted to comprehend approximately 75% of a book with the same Lexile measure (600L). When the Lexile measures and the Lexile scale were developed, the 75% comprehension rate was set at the point where the difference between the Lexile reader measure and the Lexile text measure is 0L. The 75% comprehension rate is called “targeted” reading. This rate is based on independent reading; if the reader receives help, the comprehension rate will increase. The target reading rate is the point at which a reader will comprehend enough to understand the text, but also will face some reading challenges. At this point, a reader is not bored by text that is too easy, but also does not experience too much difficulty in understanding.

When used together, Lexile measures help a reader find books and articles at an appropriate level of difficulty, and determine how well that reader will likely comprehend a text. You also can use Lexile measures to monitor a reader's growth in reading ability over time.

It is important to note that the Lexile measure of a book refers to its text difficulty only.

A Lexile measure does not address the content or quality of the book. Lexile measures are based on two well-established predictors of how difficult a text is to comprehend: word frequency and sentence length. Many other factors affect the relationship between a reader and a book, including its content, the age and interests of the reader, and the design of the actual book. The Lexile measure is a good starting point in your book-selection process, but you should always consider these other factors when making a decision about which book to choose. 

The real power of The Lexile Framework is in matching readers to text-no matter where the reader is in the development of his or her reading skills-and in examining reader growth. When teachers know Lexile reader measures and Lexile text measures, they can match their students with the texts that will maximize learning and growth.

Lexile Measures Help Readers Grow, and Help Parents and Teachers Know

Teachers and parents can best serve a student's literacy needs when they treat him or her as a unique individual, rather than as a test score or a grade-level norm or average.

The reading abilities of young people in the same grade at school can vary just as much as their shoe sizes. However, grade-leveling methods commonly are used to match students with books.

When a Lexile text measure matches a Lexile reader measure, this is called a "targeted" reading experience. The reader will likely encounter some level of difficulty with the text, but not enough to get frustrated. This is the best way to grow as a reader—with text that's not too hard but not too easy.

When you receive a Lexile measure, try not to focus on the exact number. 2

Instead, consider a reading range around the number. A person's Lexile range, or reading comprehension "sweet spot," is from 100L below to 50L above his or her reported Lexile measure. And don't be afraid to look at books above and below someone's Lexile range. Just know that a reader might find these books particularly challenging or simple.

If a student tackles reading material above his or her Lexile range, consider what additional instruction or lower-level reading resources might help. Ask him or her to keep track of unknown words, and look them up together. Or take turns reading aloud to each other to chop up the reading experience into smaller portions. Likewise, you can reward students with books that fall below his or her Lexile range for an easier reading experience.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative offers the following overlapping Lexile bands (or Lexile ranges**, as defined by Common Core) to place texts in the following text complexity grade bands. According to the Common Core Standards, qualitative scales of text complexity should be anchored at one end by descriptions of texts representative of those required in typical first-year credit-bearing college courses and in workforce training programs. Similarly, quantitative measures should identify the college- and career-ready reading level as one endpoint of the scale.

We have realigned our Lexile ranges to match the Common Core Standards' text complexity grade bands and adjusted upward its trajectory of reading comprehension development through the grades to indicate that all students should be reading at the college and career readiness level by no later than the end of high school.

New research was released on August 15, 2012 concerning text complexity. The updates refer to the three-part model defined in Appendix A of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects, which combines the quantitative and qualitative measures of text complexity with reader and task considerations.

The goal of the quantitative study was to provide information regarding the variety of ways text complexity can be measured quantitatively and to examine text complexity tools that are valid, transparent, user friendly, and reliable. We continue to update our tools to be aligned to the CCSS.

The updated the Lexile Map includes CCSS text exemplars & the new CCSS ranges.

|Grade |Current |"Stretch" |

|Band |Lexile Band |Lexile Band* |

| K–1 | N/A |N/A |

| 2–3 | 450L–725L |420L–820L |

| 4–5 | 645L–845L |740L–1010L |

| 6–8 |860L–1010L |925L–1185L |

|9-10 |960L–1115L |1050L–1335L |

|11–CCR | 1070L–1220L |1185L–1385L |


The Common Core Standards advocate a "staircase" of increasing text complexity, beginning in grade 2, so that students can develop their reading skills and apply them to more difficult texts. At the lowest grade in each band, students focus on reading texts within that text complexity band. In the subsequent grade or grades within a band, students must "stretch" to read a certain proportion of texts from the next higher text complexity band. This pattern repeats itself throughout the grades so that students can both build on earlier literacy gains and challenge themselves with texts at a higher complexity level. Lexile measures and the Lexile ranges above help to determine what text is appropriate for each grade band and what should be considered "stretch" text.


The Common Core Standards devote as much attention to the text complexity of what students are reading as it does to how students read. As students advance through the grades, they must both develop their comprehension skills and apply them to increasingly complex texts. The proportion of texts that students read each year should come from a particular text complexity grade band. Students must also show a steadily increasing ability to discern more from and make fuller use of text.

There is no direct correspondence between a specific Lexile measure and a specific grade level.

Within any classroom or grade, there will be a range of readers and a range of reading materials. In a fifth-grade classroom there may be some readers who are ahead of the typical reader (about 250L above) and some readers who are behind the typical reader (about 250L below).

To say that some books are "just right" for fifth graders assumes that all fifth graders are reading at the same level.

The Lexile® Framework for Reading is intended to match readers with texts at whatever level the reader is reading. MetaMetrics® has studied the ranges of Lexile reader measures and Lexile text measures at specific grades in an effort to describe the typical Lexile measures of texts and the typical Lexile measures of students of a given grade level. This information is for descriptive purposes only and should not be interpreted as a prescribed guide about what an appropriate reader measure or text measure should be for a given grade.

The tables below show the middle 50% of reader measures and text measures for each grade. The middle 50% is called the interquartile range (IQR). The lower number in each range marks the 25th percentile of readers or texts and the higher number in each range marks the 75th percentile of readers or texts. It is important to note that 25% of students and texts in the studies had measures below the lower number and 25% had measures above the higher number. Data for the reader measures came from a national sample of students.

Typical Reader Measures, by Grade

|Grade |Reader Measures, Mid-Year |

| |25th percentile to 75th percentile (IQR) |

|1 |Up to 300L |

|2 |140L to 500L |

|3 |330L to 700L |

|4 |445L to 810L |

|5 |565L to 910L |

|6 |665L to 1000L |

|7 |735L to 1065L |

|8 |805L to 1100L |

|9 |855L to 1165L |

|10 |905L to 1195L |

|11 and 12 |940L to 1210L |

Data for the first column of text measures came from a research study designed to examine collections of textbooks designated for specific grades (MetaMetrics, 2009). The "stretch" text measures (defined in 2012 through studies related to the development of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts) in the second column represent the demand of text that students should be reading to be college and career ready by the end of Grade 12. 


Typical Text Measures, by Grade

|Grade |Text Demand Study 2009
25th percentile to 75th percentile (IQR) |2012 CCSS Text Measures* |

|1 |230L to 420L |190L to 530L |

|2 |450L to 570L |420L to 650L |

|3 |600L to 730L |520L to 820L |

|4 |640L to780L |740L to 940L |

|5 |730L to 850L |830L to 1010L |

|6 |860L to 920L |925L to 1070L |

|7 |880L to 960L |970L to 1120L |

|8 |900L to 1010L |1010L to 1185L |

|9 |960L to 1110L |1050L to 1260L |

|10 |920L to 1120L |1080L to 1335L |

|11-12 |1070L to 1220L |1185L to 1385L |



New research was released on August 15, 2012 concerning text complexity. The updates refer to the three-part model defined in Appendix A of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects, which combines the quantitative and qualitative measures of text complexity with reader and task considerations. The goal of the quantitative study was to provide information regarding the variety of ways text complexity can be measured quantitatively and to examine text complexity tools that are valid, transparent, user friendly, and reliable. We continue to update our tools to be aligned to the CCSS. Most recently, we updated the Lexile Map to include CCSS text exemplars and the new CCSS ranges.

Notice that there is considerable overlap between the grades. This is typical of student reading levels and texts published for each grade. In addition, the level of support provided during reading and reader motivation have an impact on the reading experience. Students who are interested in reading about a specific topic (and are therefore motivated) often are able to read text at a higher level than would be forecasted by the reader's Lexile measure. 

Although a student may be an excellent reader, it is incorrect to assume that he or she will comprehend text typically found at (and intended for) a higher grade level. A high Lexile measure for a student in one grade indicates that the student can read grade-level-appropriate materials at a very high comprehension rate. The student may not have the background knowledge or maturity to understand material written for an older audience. It is always necessary to preview materials prior to selecting them for a student.

|Anchor Standard Concepts |Sample Statements |

|Determine what a text says explicitly. |Everyone is unkind to Little Bear. |

|RCCR.1 |Animals prepare for winter in different ways. |

|Make logical inferences from a text. |We can tell that Pooh and Piglet have been friends for a long time. |

|RCCR.1 |Without taking Franklin’s data, Watson and Crick wouldn’t have succeeded. |

|Identify main ideas and themes. |The moral of the story is that teams can do more than individuals. |

|RCCR.2 |Structure and function are intricately linked. |

|Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop, connect, |Pickles goes from being a bad cat to a good cat. |

|and interact. |After Maxim’s revelation, the new Mrs. De Winter is a changed woman. |

|RCCR.3 |The seeds of social change for women in America were planted during WWII. |

|Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a |Chekhov wants us to judge Julia harshly. |

|text; distinguish between what is said and what is meant or true. |The writer’s personal feelings influenced his description of this event. |

|RCCR.6 | |

|Integrate and evaluate content that is presented visually and |Munch’s The Scream shares many stylistic elements with Impressionism. |

|quantitatively as well as in words. |According to the table in this article, sun worshippers would be happier |

|RCCR.7 |living in Phoenix than in Seattle. |

|Analyze how two or more texts address |The two fables we read are more similar than different. |

|Similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or compare the |The Cherokee people’s account of their relocation differs from the account|

|authors’ approaches. RCCR.9 |in your textbook. |

Aligning Reading for Meaning Statements to Anchor Standards

The Seven Keys to Comprehension

How to Help Your Kids Read It and Get It!

By: Susan Zimmermann

Author of Mosaic of Thought


Chryse Hutchins

Sounding out or decoding words is part of the reading puzzle but falls short of real reading. If children don’t understand what they read, they’re not really reading. If they don’t unlock meaning as they read, the words are boring babble and they will never read well or enjoy reading. So, how is meaning unlocked?

In the 1980’s, a breakthrough occurred: researchers identified the specific thinking strategies used by proficient readers. They found that reading is an interactive process in which good readers engage in a constant internal dialogue with the text. The ongoing dialogue helps them understand and elaborate on what they read. By identifying what good readers do as they read, this research gave important new insights about how to teach children to read it and get it.

Good readers use the following 7 Keys to unlock meaning:

1. Create mental images: Good readers create a wide range of visual, auditory, and other sensory images as they read, and they become emotionally involved with what they read.

2. Use background knowledge: Good readers use their relevant prior knowledge before, during, and after reading to enhance their understanding of what they’re reading.

3. Ask questions: Good readers generate questions before, during, and after reading to clarify meaning, make predictions, and focus their attention on what’s important.

4. Make inferences: good readers use their prior knowledge and information from what they read to make predictions, seek answers to questions, draw conclusions, and create interpretations that deepen their understanding of the text.

5. Determine the most important ideas or themes: Good readers identify key ideas or themes as they read, and they can distinguish between important and unimportant information.

6. Synthesize information: good readers track their thinking as it evolves during reading, to get the overall meaning.

7. Use fix up strategies: Good readers are aware of when they understand and when they don’t. If they have trouble understanding specific words, phrases, or longer passages, they use a wide range of problem-solving strategies including skipping ahead, rereading, asking questions, using a dictionary, and reading the passage aloud.

Good readers use the same strategies whether they’re reading Reader’s Digest or a calculus textbook.

There is nothing fancy about these strategies. They are common sense. But to read well, readers must use them.

Excerpted from: 7 Keys to Comprehension: How to Help Your Kids Read It and Get it!

Authors: Susan Zimmermann and Chryse Hutchins

Three Rivers Press

New York


ISBN: 0-7615-1549-6

Almost Everything Can Be “Read” for Meaning

Although Reading for Meaning has the word reading in its name, its use is not limited to texts. The strategy works well with any information source:

short texts



blog posts

primary documents





scenes from a play

mathematical word problems


data charts


film clips




government documents

court cases

lab experiments…etc.


3 X 3 Writing Frame

✓ Is a simple visual organizer to help students see the structure of a good essay and plan out its beginning, middle, and end.

✓ The frame can be adapted to fit the three text types highlighted in the Common Core. R.1: Argumentative, R.2: Informative/Explanatory, and R.3: Narrative

Building Writing

✓ Is a prewriting tool that provides the scaffolding emerging writers need as they learn to produce high-quality responses on demand.

✓ The tool builds students’ motivation and confidence as writers, allowing them to earn advance points toward their final writing grade and leaving them with an outline that they can use to guide their writing.

✓ It also permits teachers to formatively assess every student’s work in nearly real time.

How it works:

1. Pose a question that texts students’ understanding of key content. (Give students 5 minutes to brainstorm or pose questions days before the actual writing assignment).

2. Walk around the room and review students’ responses and mark points for the items on their lists. (Give 15 total as possible points).

3. Ask student to then pair up. Student-pairs can earn up to 10 points by elaborating on their initial ideas, revising them, generating new ones, or providing appropriate supporting details.

4. Allow students to share their ideas with the class. Lead the discussion and add any key ideas or details needed before they begin writing. Ask students to assess their performance during the discussion by awarding themselves up to 10 additional points based on how well they shared ideas, listened to others, questioned, added to, or summarized other’s ideas; and used the discussion to refine their list of ideas.

5. Challenge students to write a topic sentence and organize their ideas into a simple outline. Award up to 5 points for the topic sentence (Does it address the question and set up the paragraph? Is it clear?), and up to 10 points for the outline. (Is the information organized logically?).

6. Have students draft their responses. Before students begin writing, clarify the criteria you will use to assess their written responses. Provide a checklist or rubric to help guide students’ writing.

7. Award students up to 50 points for their drafts. Add these points to their existing points to receive a total. Using the assessment criteria to guide you, provide students with usable feedback on their work.

See other side for sample graphic:

Sample 3 X 3 Writing Frame for Argumentative:

|Beginning: | Middle: | | End: |

|What are you trying to prove? |What is your What is your | |Close the writing. |

| |Evidence? Proof? | | |

|Make your case or restate the |Magic THREES: |Elaborate on each reason or provide|Wrap up your argument. |

|question |Reasons, Causes, |an example. | |

| |Purposes | | |

| | | | |

| | | | |

| | | | |

| | | | |

Sample 3 X 3 Writing Frame for Informative/Explanatory:

|Beginning: | Middle: | | End: |

|What is the topic of the |What is your What is your | |Close the writing. |

|information? |Information Details/Facts | | |

|Provide background or definition of|Logical order of the information |Elaborate on each detail or fact |End with how this information is |

|your topic. |reported or researched |with examples. |helpful, etc. |

| | | | |

| | | | |

| | | | |

| | | | |

Sample 3 X 3 Writing Frame for Narrative:

|Beginning: | Middle: | | End: |

|What story are you telling? |What are the key developments in your story? | |Close the writing. |

|Make your case or restate the |Magic THREES: |Make each point come to life with |Go for an ending that clarifies |

|question |Identify at least three key points |details, sensory language, and |your message and gets noticed. |

| |in the story |dialogue. | |

| | | | |

| | | | |

| | | | |

| | | | |

| | | | |

| | | | |

Support/Refute Organizer for Tops and Bottoms

|Evidence For |Statement |Evidence Against |

| | | |

| | | |

| |Sample: The hare deceived the bear. (Define | |

| |vocabulary if needed in the statement) | |

| | | |

| | | |

| | | |

5 Highlights

✓ Find Central claims

✓ Find Evidence

✓ Find Details relating to a topic

✓ Find Facts about a person, place, thing, or idea

✓ Find Descriptions of a person, place, thing, or idea

✓ Find main ideas, examples, reasons, etc.

✓ Find visuals and respond to their purpose

✓ Find unknown or critical vocabulary

✓ Find answers to questions or criteria given by teacher

✓ Find sentences that need more clarification


Support/Refute Organizer for Tops and Bottoms

|Evidence For |Statement |Evidence Against |

| | | |

| | | |

| |Write statement | |

| | | |

| | | |

| | | |

| | | |

Students should add any “evidence for” they did not have in the appropriate box.

Students should add any “evidence against” they did not have in the appropriate box.

Round Robin:

What is it?

A checking-for-understanding technique that requires students to practice sharing their findings upon reading a passage. This can be directed by providing students with criteria prior to the reading.

Ask 5 people to stand on the right side of the room who found one part of the criteria and then ask 5 people to stand on the left side of the room who found another part of the criteria.

This sets the activity up for debate if the text is argumentative.

Example: Reading text and find evidence for and evidence against.

Then have individual students stand and report their findings…be sure to ask for support of their claim/opinion in the text. “The Because”


What is it?

A checking-for-understanding technique that requires students to give a “because” for every claim they make and answer they give.

By asking students to explain, justify, and elaborate on things they were saying in class, teachers received immediate feedback about students’ understanding of content being taught. This strategy promotes the kind of logical and evidence-based thinking that is a cornerstone of the Common Core State Standards.

What are the basic steps?

1. Tell students that you want them to start giving you a “because” for every answer they give and claim they make.

2. Remind students to do this by writing the word “because” in an easily visible location. If students forget to give you a “because,” prompt them to do so by pointing at the word “because” on your whiteboard/smartboard/bulletin board.

3. Use students’ responses to gauge their understanding of the material and their ability to support a claim with evidence, reasons, and examples. Respond accordingly.

Human Barometer:

What is it?

After students have reported to the class their findings, then ask students to form a line representing their stand on the issue.

What are the basic steps?

1. Tell students: All who believe this side of the debate, please stand in single file line on the left side of the classroom. All who believe the other side of the debate stand on the right side of the room in single file line. All students who feel both are viable, stand single file in the middle.

2. Next, ask those in the middle to explain why they have no definite side.

3. Let students on the left and right, give support for the middle person to consider and see if those in the middle end up choosing a side.

Handout for “Reading for Meaning”

Engaging and Building Reading Skills:

How to begin:

1. Ask yourself these questions:

✓ What thought-provoking statements can I present to my students before they begin reading to focus and engage their attention?

✓ How can I use different kinds of statements to help my students build crucial reading skills found in the Common Core Standards?

Capturing Students’ Interest:

How to begin: Consider using one of the following to begin your lesson.

✓ Mystery. On paper, the U.S. Civil War was a mismatch. So why did it last for more than four years? Generate some ideas.

✓ Controversy. Look at these famous masterpieces of modern art. Some use only basic shapes or single color. Is this really art? What is art?

✓ Personal Experiences. Have you ever felt so guilty about something that you thought others could tell you did something wrong just by looking at you? How can guilt be like a stain?

✓ “What If” questions. What if there were no plants? How might the world be different?

Memory Box:

How to begin: Give students a graphic organizer shape, and criteria you wish them to consider when studying their notes.

✓ Have them look over their notes using your criteria from the lesson; 1-3 minutes, you choose.

✓ Then ask them to put away their notes and proceed to fill out their memory box for 5 minutes.

✓ Next, have them pair with another person and share what they have, vise-versa.

✓ Then come together as a group and share responses.

✓ This is a great way to assess and review material. The teacher can add any important information that students did not have. Also, she/he can inform students which information will not be crucial in the summative testing.

On the back is a memory box for assessing what you took away from this PD.

What did you learn new about “reading for meaning?”

What strategies do you want to use in your classroom?

What did you learn about Common Core?

Memory Box:

Reading for Meaning Strategies

Common Core Shared


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