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Tips for Using Lexile and Accelerated Reader Levels

The goal of Lexile levels and Accelerated Reader levels is to help students find accessible reading material. However, the same tools designed to help students find books and motivate them to read can also turn students off from reading. These tips offer ways to use Lexile and Accelerated Reader levels effectively, building confident readers rather than reluctant readers.

Allow Students to Read What They Want

One of the goals of using Lexile levels and the Accelerated Reader program is to get students to find books they want to read and books they can understand. However, teachers and librarians can sometimes take this too far, telling a student “you cannot read that book because it is not on your level.”  While students should be required to read some books on their levels, they should be allowed to read books they want to read. Otherwise, they may be turned off from reading, especially when they miss out on reading the latest hot novel series because it is deemed too easy or too hard.

Pay Attention to Student Interests

When books in the library are labeled by Lexile or AR levels, students often spend their time searching for books that meet their levels, but not focusing on the content of the books. When they get the books home and start reading them, they realize they are boring and do not fit their interests at all. In addition to teaching students to find books on their level, teachers must teach students to find books related to their interests. Instead of starting the book search with a Lexile or AR level in mind, start the book search with a specific topic in mind, then narrow down the choices by level.

Offer Incentives for Reading

Simply helping students find books to read at the appropriate level will not be enough to motivate students to read. Combine Lexile and Accelerated Reader programs with other incentives for reading. Reward for students for reaching reading milestones, such as reading 1,000 words, 10,000 words and even 1,000,000 words with special treats, pizza parties or free admission to school events. Give certificates and medals to students who improve their Lexile levels at AR scores at the end of each semester or reward students for scoring high on AR tests.

Don’t Make Reading a Chore

Often when schools require students to read books based on Lexile and AR levels, reading becomes a chore for students. Letting students choose what they want to read, helping them choose books based on their interests and offering incentives for reading will help students see reading less as work and more as something they enjoy doing. When used effectively, AR and Lexile levels can help students choose books that will lead to enjoyable, frustration-free reading and help them begin to see the value of reading in their lives.