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High School Graduate Literacy Levels

by Andrea T. Rodrigue

Most parents want their children to be college- or career-ready when they graduate from high school. In order to achieve readiness, students must be prepared to read complex texts and sometimes vague directions from managers or college professors. The most common measure of reading levels are Lexile levels, which help gauge the reading ability of students and the level of the texts they read. As students progess to graduation, their Lexile level should progress as well.

Reading Levels

There are two Lexile measures. A Lexile reading level measures the level at which a student is reading. A Lexile text level measures the level of a book, newspaper article or any other sample text. First-year college texts are written at Lexile levels between 1185L and 1385L. A study done by the Southwest Regional Education Laboratory found that about half of public school students in grade 11 were prepared to read at first-year college-ready Lexile levels.

Increasing Lexile

In order to prepare students for the Lexile levels they will encounter after graduation, students should be presented with texts that stretch their current level. Lexile levels begin under 400L for kindergarten students and progress past 1300L for beginning college students. The Common Core State Standards aim to push high school graduates to 1185L–1385L by the time of high school graduation. This can be accomplished by bringing literacy into all areas taught in schools, by increasing the nonfiction texts that students read, and by close reading of nonfiction texts with questioning and discussion among students as they read the text.

Lexile at Home

Parents who provide students with reading material in different forms at home generally have children who outscore their peers with less reading materials on reading measures. Parents should read to their children when young and continue to provide reading materials such as books, magazines, newspapers and encyclopedias as they grow. Parents don't have to know Lexile levels of all reading materials they provide, but as children get nearer to graduation, parents should provide texts above high school Lexile levels. Lexile levels for text usually can be found through online searches, from the public library or with help from teachers.

Jobs and Lexile

High school graduates who wish to be college- or career-ready may want to be aware of the Lexile level they'll encounter in their chosen field. First, for those who are leaving high school to go on to college, the goal is to be able to read texts written at Lexile levels above 1300L. For career-ready students who are seeking jobs, some common Lexile levels include carpenter, 1060L; police officer, 1260L; automotive technician, 1270L; teaching assistant, 1370L; and hotel employee, 1330L.

About the Author

Andrea T. Rodrigue earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a Masters in education from Northwestern State University, Natchitoches, LA. She is a National Board Certified Early Childhood Specialist, a state certified educational technology leader, and a state-certified educational leader.

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