Thursday, November 08, 2012

Readability Measures and Libraries: An Unsolicited Rant

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  1. Fight the power! My library system is also battling the great AR/Reading Counts/Lexile level (sometimes all at once). Unfortunately, I have found that no matter the coaxing from the wise librarian, if it does not meet the be-all, end-all school standards, then it's a no go. We have got to figure out how to reach the schools, as well. How can we get teachers to realize that just because some company created a level, doesn't mean that the book is actually appropriate for the student? Ideas?

  2. I think that needs to come from the Professional Development about the standards; it's there but not emphasized enough. For instance, when I worked at an institution with grants from NCLB, it took us until 2008 to begin creating a product that shows: "All right, these skills are being tested, and we PROMISE the skills are taught in your curriculum multiple times before the test. Here, we're show you exactly what month and why you should not teach these skills out of order for the test." I do think that some teachers realize the silliness of reading measures, but they're getting it from much higher, from a place that may be in the pocket of a company even; anyway, I'm not sure that's something we can help as librarians. It is a much larger issue than us. I'm just happy we can be on the front line, telling the kids themselves about awesome books.

  3. This post (like basically all of what you write) really fired me up to keep fighting the good fight for Reading Good Books. I had a very intelligent young man (probably in 4th grade) tell me his precise reading grade level the other day and I felt like it put me under serious pressure to help him choose The Right Book to meet these arbitrary standards. Suddenly it wasn't about what he liked or wanted to read, but what the powers that be would let him read. If librarians band together maybe we can make our voices heard when it comes to education standards, but I don't have very high hopes. We'll just have to keep running our underground railroad of book buddies and make as much difference in as many lives as possible.

  4. Emily, thank you so much for reading my blog. I can't tell you how awesome it feels to hear that I fire you up about literacy! I totally agree with you, and I love the imagery of the "underground railroad"... At the PD-writing level we used to call the school/library world "the trenches"-- and it's definitely the place to be!

  5. Our school district extended Reading Counts to middle school and high school this year and one of our two parochial schools has recently embraced with wild enthusiasm and matching ignorance the concept of lexiles. My private resistance is to arbitrarily slap colored stickers on the easy readers and then tell parents "red is level 1, green is level 2, blue is level 3, black is level 4". When really they're all over the place, depending on the publisher. Parents feel like their kids are "reading at the right level" and kids get to try different things.