Levels are for Teachers NOT Students


Yesterday I saw two former students excited to share with me their middle school lives and all their improvements they have notice they are making as learners.  When it came to talking about reading  I was surprised that they did not talk to me about genres, book titles, or favorite characters…they told me their Lexile levels.  When I asked them about a favorite text they had read recently the conversation stopped.  Then one of the students said “I read a chapter book.”

Now, when any student tells me “I like to read chapter books” or “I read a chapter book” a red alarm goes off telling me this reader is either not reading and trying to impress me or is putting their focus on the wrong things (volume and pride over story and knowledge).

I strongly believe levels are for teachers, not students.  Here are some of my favorite articles recently published on sharing levels with students:

A Kid is Not an “H” by Kylene Beers

Text Levels Tools or Trouble by Irene Fountas

More on Text Levels: Confronting the Issuse by Irene Fountas

Guess My Lexile by Donalyn Miller

Rejecting Instructional Level Theory by Timothy Shanahan

Further Explanation of Teach Students with Challenging Text by Timothy Shanahan

The Slow Path Forward: We Can–An Do–Learn from Reading Research by Timothy Shanahan

Reading and Lexile levels are flawed assessments.  They provide a snapshot into behaviors a reader both demonstrates and neglects.  This school year let’s talk to our readers and their parents about reading BEHAVIORS and not levels and numbers.  This will help everyone focus on what really matters.


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