I was recently told to find a book "on my level" which is difficult for any student when they get to the 1400's, 1500's, 1600's, and even higher. There aren't many books that score that high, let alone would interest middle or high school students. (If you don't believe me, go to Lexile.com and in the boxes that say "Lexile Min" and "Lexile Max" write 1500 to 1700 and start reading just the titles.)
If by some chance you do happen to find a book "on your level" that might not have you snoozing within moments, it's not available anywhere near you and probably costs $25 or more (which isn't worth paying if you aren't even sure what you are paying for). I therefore think students should just be encouraged to read, not necessarily some book that a computer generated score thinks would be "appropriate" for them.
Throughout this post, I will be referencing and quoting an article I found the other day while searching for a book on my Lexile level that was posted in 2012. I would recommend reading the whole article, because I am having a hard time not just pasting the whole thing here but first, that would take up way too much space and second, I feel like that may deter some people from wanting to read this post (which I understand, I have a tendency to skip paragraphs of anything I find boring and long to just find the point).
Seriously. I even tried to just cut out the parts that don't apply as much and everything applies! So before you continue reading (unless you want to read it without context), please read the article found at the link below.
This article is written by an author, Mike Mullin, approached by the mother of a sixth grade girl whose school was requiring the students to find books "on their level." Through research, he found that his book had a marginally higher Lexile score than that of Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. This author says,
"Is my work more difficult, more sophisticated, or more appropriate for older readers than that of Mr. Hemingway, a Nobel Laureate in literature? Of course not! Think about it: If this poor student stays in her school system, she'll NEVER be allowed to read A Farewell to Arms. It's allegedly too easy for her."
The point that I agree with the most in this article is when the author says,
"There's a bigger problem: the Lexile system punishes good writing and rewards bad writing. I'll illustrate this point with an example. Here's the first sentence of... a book with a Lexile of 1650:
'ON the theory that our genuine impulses may be connected with our childish experiences, that one's bent may be tracked back to that 'No-Man's Land' where character is formless but nevertheless settling into definite lines of future development, I begin this record with some impressions of my childhood.'
"Forty-eight words that can be replaced by three with no loss of meaning: 'My childhood was.' This is a truly awful opening, whatever your opinion of the overall work."
There are a couple reasons I have heard that slightly validate the use of a Lexile score, such as that if you read harder things that push you, you can become a better writer. If this was really the case, then I wouldn't be a very good writer since most of the books I read every day are books with a score half of what my "reading level" is according to the Lexile system. I feel that you can become a better writer as long as you are reading. If you are reading regularly then you are getting exposure to at least a couple different styles of writing (and if not, then you need to expand your horizons just a little bit). Those writing styles, if carefully observed and examined can help you with what you endeavor to write.
I would like to end this post by quoting Mike Mullin one more time.
"Good writing is simple. The best writers never use two words where one will do, and they choose their words with precision. But the Lexile system rewards complexity and obscurity by assigning higher Lexile scores for works with longer sentences and longer words. In short, students forced to use the Lexile system in their reading are being taught to be bad writers. And some are likely being forced into books that will turn them off to reading...
"Let your child pick books the way you do--based on interest and need. Ask your school to dump the Lexile system. The last thing we need is an expensive program that makes the great work parents, teachers and librarians do--educating our children--more difficult."
Mullin, Mike. How the Lexile system harms students. 21 Oct. 2012. Web. 11 Oct. 2016.
I would also like to acknowledge that this post ended up being way longer than I initially anticipated, but just remember that the length of this is without pasting the whole article by Mike Mullin. I apologize. Kind of--but not really.
Thanks for reading my post about Lexile scores.