Washington County Board of Education approves Achieve3000

September 30, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE |

Washington County Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox told Board of Education members the school system will get parents access to information about their children’s reading levels and what books would be good for those reading levels.

Board member Justin Hartings mentioned during a recent board meeting that he learned earlier this year about the concept of a Lexile number — which indicates a child’s reading level — and said there is information available online to inform him about books appropriate for his children’s reading levels and interests.

“Boy, it just brings you a menu of things that are exactly at the right reading level for a child and exactly on point for what they’re interested in. I just thought it was an incredibly powerful tool as a parent, and I was surprised that I didn’t know about it until just a few months ago,” Hartings said during the board meeting.

The board was about to vote on a $62,344 contract for Achieve3000, an online system that helps students improve their reading comprehension by providing them with nonfiction stories at an appropriate reading level that challenges them. The school board unanimously approved the contract.

When Hartings asked about getting students’ Lexile numbers to parents, Secondary Education Director Rick Akers at first said he thought it would be more valuable to him, as a parent, to get a report about what his child does well and with what areas the child struggles. Giving parents a number could lead to a meeting at the “backyard fence” to see whose child has the higher number, and the number would require an explanation so parents understand what it means, Akers said.

“I certainly don’t think that you need to be an educator to use that as an effective tool to help your children in the summer or supplement what the schools are providing,” Hartings said.

“The answer is, we can absolutely give families access to what the Lexile number is that their kids have,” Wilcox said.

There is a parent-friendly website that links to books and interests of children, and links to school and community libraries, Wilcox said. Achieve3000 is one of dozens of companies that uses a Lexile number, he said.

“We’ll provide the info,” he said.

Wilcox said it’s important for parents to know where their youngsters are reading on an instructional level, at what level they read for pleasure and what kind of material will frustrate them.

Wilcox said that the perfect time to introduce the Lexile information and corresponding training for parents would be with standard-based report cards that school system officials are reviewing. Those report cards are being looked at particularly for early grades, he said.

Wilcox said the standard-based report cards were an idea several elementary school principals have been exploring since the summer, in light of standards for the new, more rigorous Common Core curriculum.

Since the report card discussion is ongoing, Wilcox said he hoped to get the Lexile information out to parents before January.

A Lexile measure provides information about either an individual’s reading ability or the difficulty of a text, such as a book or magazine article, according to information at the Lexile website at

A student gets a Lexile reader measure from a reading test or program, the website says. Higher Lexile measures represent a higher level of reading ability. A Lexile reader measure can range from below 200L for beginning readers to above 1600L for advanced readers, according to the website.

A book, article or piece of text also can be given a Lexile text measure when it’s analyzed by MetaMetrics, with text measure based on two predictors of how difficult a text is to comprehend — word frequency and sentence length, the Lexile website says.

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