Teaching with Lexile® to Create Successful Readers

Why Teaching with Lexile is Important

Using Lexile measures to differentiate and scaffold instruction has a significant impact on your students’ reading. Lexile measures help teachers make informed decisions about text selection to ensure students are both engaged and challenged. Teaching with Lexile measures properly adds a powerful tool that helps students make gains, increase confidence, and meet the demands of Common Core and other state standards.

It is important to recognize that Lexile measures must be used properly. When used properly, Lexile measures are extremely beneficial; however, teachers should ensure they are integrating Lexile measures properly. Improper use can nullify its benefits or even be detrimental to learning.

Teachers should not use Lexile measures for the following purposes:

  1. To limit students’ selections of independent reading to a specific “level” or measure.
  2. To make public progress of growth by using a class tracking chart.

All leveling systems have their limits.

Lexile is a quantitative text measurement, which means that the measurement is based solely upon technical aspects of a text like sentence length and word choice. A text receives a quantitative text measurements through an automated process based on scientific algorithms that produces consistent results. Although these measures are consistent and scientific, they do not take into account features like content or topics.

Qualitative text measurements like Fountas and Pinnell use measurement procedures that rely on human judgement. Human beings create these measures by comparing each text against a rigid set of guidelines. Because humans create each measurement, leveling may be inconsistent; however, qualitative measures are able to consider factors that quantitative measures cannot, like the subject matter of a text.

It is important that educators are aware how each of these measures work and their strengths and limitations. When using Lexile measures as a guide for selecting texts for guided reading it is important to consider the topic. Although Lexile recommends students look for materials that fall into a “sweet spot” of 100L below to 50L above their reported Lexile measure, many students can competently read and understand texts leveled more than 50L above their reported measure when they are engaged with high interest topics.


Why I use Lexile

Woman holding computer showing Certified Lexile Partner logo

I began teaching with Lexile in my own classroom when Common Core standards were implemented. Common Core outlines text complexity bands for each grade level, and they set text complexity guidelines using the Lexile system. To remain consistent with the Common Core Standards, the state testing also began measuring text difficulty using the Lexile system.


Chart showing Lexile bands aligned to common core expectations


Integrating Lexile leveled texts into my class lessons, independent work, and small group work helped me scaffold my instruction, which helped my students meet Common Core text complexity expectations. Utilizing the Lexile measures also allowed me to differentiate texts throughout the classroom, giving every reader the opportunity to continue to learn regardless of their current reading level.


Teaching with Lexile

You can integrate Lexile measures into your lessons using the following process as a guide:

  1. Start by modeling with a text that is in the middle of the appropriate grade level text complexity band. Since this is a model, students can be exposed to a text that is harder than their independent levels. Modeling with a middle difficulty text helps lower level readers understand how to tackle the text. These students will feel more confident when it is time for them to practice on their own.
  2. Next, pick out a text in the lower end of the range for guided practice. Guide students through the first part of the text while asking and answering questions based on the skill or standard you are teaching. Once you get them started, students can work toward independence by finishing dissecting the text in small groups or with partners. Using a text on the lower end of the text complexity band helps ensure all students can find success.
  3. Students are now ready to read and answer questions independently. I recommend starting all students with texts that are on the lower end of the range. Students who succeed can be moved to more difficult texts until they work up to the higher end of each student’s Lexile measure reading comprehension sweet spot. Increase complexity in steps.
  4. Students who are unsuccessful with a text on the lower end of the range may require additional guided practice – either independently or in a small group. Continue to provide guidance until they no longer needed it and show they can be successful independently. The goal is for all students to be capable of using a skill with a text independently regardless of their overall reading comprehension.
  5. At the end, administer an assessment that includes two passages, one at the lower end of the range and one in the mid-high range.

For more ideas about teaching with close reading passages, check out my blog post on Teaching Common Core Reading Passages.

All of my 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade passages now include certified Lexile measures!

Certified Lexile Seal

You can find the bundles here:

1st Grade Nonfiction Reading Comprehension Bundle Cover Page  2nd Grade Reading Comprehension Mega Bundle  Image showing covers of 3rd grade reading comprehension resources

4th Grade Mega Bundle for Fiction and Nonfiction standards  5th Grade nonfiction and fiction reading comprehension mega bundle


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