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Metametrics Report Reveals High School Reading Gap

Posted Mar 15, 2005
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Textbooks and literature that are required reading for high school seniors are written at a far lower reading level than materials that one needs to read to cope in society, such as a driver's license manual or jury instructions, according to a report released by MetaMetrics, Inc., developer of The Lexile Framework for Reading. The report, "Student Readiness for Postsecondary Options," was originally presented to the National Assessment Governing Board last August.

The Lexile Framework is a scientific approach to reading and text measurement, according to the announcement of the report. At its heart are the Lexile measure and the Lexile scale. The Lexile measure is a numeric reading ability or text difficulty score followed by an "L" (e.g., 850L). The Lexile scale is a developmental scale for reading ranging from 200L for beginning readers to above 1700L for advanced readers.

Using the Lexile scale, researcher Gary L.Williamson, Ph.D., analyzed a range of print materials used in K-12 education and compared it to the materials used in postsecondary education, the military, the workplace, and in life. The results of this analysis revealed that there is a gap between the text demand placed on students by high school textbooks and the text demands in post-high school life. The Lexile measure for most high school text is in the 1090L range. While reading materials used in the workplace and military as well as materials such as jury instructions and driver's license manuals ranged from 1180L to 1260L. Materials used in colleges and universities have a Lexile level of 1355L and above.

Williamson is a senior research associate at MetaMetrics with more than 30 years of experience in educational research on the academic, state and school district levels.

Source: MetaMetrics, Inc.,

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