What is a Lexile Score?

Instructor: Bill Sands
A Lexile score is one of the many tools teachers and parents can use to help develop students' reading abilities. Keep reading for more information on these figures and how they are used in the classroom.

Lexile Scores Explained

A Lexile score is a figure used to measure either the reading ability of an individual or the difficulty of a written text such, as a newspaper article or novel.

Lexile scores are written as a number with an upper-case 'L' immediately after. For example, a Lexile score of 650 is written as 650L.

Lexile Scores for Students

Lexile scores for individuals are determined through the completion of reading assessments provided by standardized testing companies, publishers, and state assessment programs.

The scale is centered around a score of 0L. Any readers who score below this level are classified as Beginning Readers (BR). Some readers may also receive a number after the BR designation in order to more accurately represent their reading level. For example, a reader with a Lexile score of BR100L is 100 units below the 0L level. In these instances, a lower number represents a higher reading level. A student with a BR50L score is a better reader than a student with a BR100L score, and so on.

For readers who score above 0L, the higher the number, the more advanced the reader. Students at the most advanced reading levels can score at 1600L or higher.

Lexile Scores for Texts

To help determine appropriate texts for students, Lexile scores are also conferred upon short stories, textbooks, novels, magazine articles, and other written materials. Text is scored on the same scale as the one used for students, making comparisons between the two quick and easy. For example, the first book in the 'Harry Potter' series has a score of 880L, so it may be too much of a challenge for students with a score of 600L.

Scores for written passages are determined solely by their syntactic and semantic elements. The score does not take into account factors such as subject matter and genre.

Lexile scores for texts are rounded to the nearest 10L. Texts can also receive the 'BR' designation, but do not receive numbers as students do. MetaMetrics, the company responsible for determining scores, is currently working on a method to classify texts below the 0L threshold, but no system has yet been released.

Lexile System Comprehension Rate

Lexile scores were designed to provide educators and administrators with a straightforward, simple means of matching students with appropriate texts.

The scale uses a 75% comprehension rate, which simply means that students reading a text at their Lexile score will understand about three-quarters of what they read. The system does not use a 100% comprehension rate because the goal is to provide students with a challenge. A student who reads a text and understands everything with no difficulty will experience no growth, but students who are exposed to foreign concepts and challenging ideas will learn more and continue to improve their reading level.

This rate is based on the assumption that a student does not receive assistance while reading. Students receiving help from a teacher or peer will of course see an increase in comprehension rate.

Further Reading on Selecting Appropriate Texts

A Lexile score is a good starting point when determining a book's appropriateness for students, but just because a student's score matches that of a book's does not mean the text is suitable.

In addition to using Lexile scores, check out these Study.com resources to explore extra considerations for finding the right texts for students, such as these lessons on Selecting Grade-Appropriate Texts and Selecting Texts for Reading Comprehension.

You can also use this Instructional Strategies for Teaching Reading Comprehension course to help improve your student's reading skills while working through the text you've selected.

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