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If a book is a part of Amazon.com's Search Inside program, you can see concrete examples of readability measures by clicking on the Text Stats link. You will be able to see how the book is ranked according to these measures:
Users of Microsoft Word will find both the Flesch and the Flesch-Kincaid already on their computers. To access them in Word:
By Marian Wilde , GreatSchools Staff
The Lexile Framework has its detractors, such as Stephen Krashen, Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Southern California. Krashen asserts that the money states are spending on The Lexile Framework would be better spent on acquiring books for schools and districts with limited financial resources. Teachers and librarians, he says, are already trained to match readers with books and don't need the added nuisance of readability formulas.
Other critics have cited the fact that readability formulas measure only a handful of factors that affect text difficulty. Factors not measured are number and organization of concepts, degree of abstraction of these concepts, length of paragraphs and the complexity of punctuation.
A simplistic way of measuring texts can lead to disconnects with reality. Say, for example, that your child has just devoured The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Eager to cultivate her passion for reading you consult the Lexile database and find that this book clocks in with a Lexile ranking of 940L. The Fellowship of the Ring, another classic of the fantasy genre, would be a good choice, you think. Discovering that it's Lexile ranking is 860L, you happily locate a copy, reasoning that giving her an easier book to read will increase her sense of mastery.
Unfortunately, it won't be long before you, and your daughter, discover that The Fellowship of the Ring is much harder to read than The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. This is an example of what happens when you ask a computer to analyze literature.
The research department at the Lexile Framework responded to our hypothetical situation with this comment, "The Lexile Framework for Reading, as a readability formula, focuses on two features: semantic and syntactic characteristics of the text. A properly 'matched' student will not have trouble with the semantic and syntactic demands of the text. As a readability formula, the Lexile Framework does not take into consideration factors such as developmental appropriateness, conceptual complexity or allegorical demands. For example, that is why the Lexile Framework is not recommended for the measurement of poetry."
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