To Read or Not To Read – Understanding the Power of Lexile Scores and Literacy

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”   – Emilie Buchwald

As an Educator, helping parents and families to understand impact of lexile scores and literacy is a critical to piece to student success. Reading is fundamental and it’s past due for us to empower and equip parents at all levels to reinforce literacy in the home and community. The first step to turning around school improvement to ensure that all stakeholders understand the power of literacy. Maria Myers Brown is a fellow Educator in Rockdale County who has shared her view on how we can get parents and families to understand the power of lexile scores, literacy and why their engagement make positive changes in their child’s academic career.

Q1: How did you become passionate about education? A1: Myers –  I am passionate about excellence. Education is the leveler which flattens or equalizes us all. Through education we can craft a life and legacy of excellence. I am the daughter of an engineer and a scientist. I have seen first hand how my parents’ educations separated them from the effects of life’s hardships. Of course, education would not keep you from hardship but it helps you manage the effects. Parents are the teachers of not only their children but of the children next door and across the street, around the globe. You want your child to be safe and happy so it stands to reason that you should work to teach as many people as possible to be kind and loving toward each other. When parents and educators fail a child, they often meet him or her in the courthouse, church or funeral parlor.

Q2: Why is education critically important in the home? A2: Myers –Education is critically important in the home because the world is made up of homes connected by the tender threads of life. One cannot leave the government or other people to education their children. The family and home must be of quality and it must understand that one weak teacher can potentially destroy a generation (we all have 3-5 cousins or relatives our age, lol). One weak principal could destroy a neighborhood and one weak school district can destroy a region.

Q3: Do you think that a lot of parents understand Lexile scores? A3: Myers – I think parents understand that their child’s reading must be measured but I do not think that they understand how Lexile is calculated or used for. I feel like it is similar to GPA. You know that you need it, You want the highest number as soon as you can earn it. However, most people do not know how to calculate it our what effects it.

Q4: In what ways do Lexile scores indicate student growth and achievement? A4: Myers – Lexile scores are only one companies perspective on what kinds of books are being read and what scores students are earning when they are asked questions about what they read. I do not they are a true indicator of student growth and achievement because as students mature their academic performance changes. For example; if a third grader has a 1250 Lexile people will be impressed but what if that same student’s scores do not change through 11th grade? 1250 each year? Would we label the child with a learning impairment? No, we are always pushing people into the norms of life based on what other people are doing. Lexile is a performance measure and it should be used to establish instructional goals and activities for students.

Q5: What do parents need to know about Lexile scores? A5: Myers – Parents need to know that it is a national norm and that they should graph and monitor their child’s growth in all areas. Google has a great app called help. You can store life’s info on line. The should also know that children should use the muscles in their heads everyday, you do not decide not to use your heart all day or for a period of time so why do we treat our brains like haphazard organs. . We let our kids go entire vacations or months without thinking about anything other than what game to play next. Our minds and souls are meant to be fed, exercised and challenged.

Q6: How can parents drive literacy and reading in children between ages 3-6? A6: Myers – Ages three to six is a time to develop a sense of family. Parents can drive literacy by creating authentic experiences that children read and WRITE about. Writing and reading should work together in this grade band. Writing lessons, recipes, directions, letters etc. People should be creative, you can write about heritage, culture, a book, a gang fight, anything to keep the mind moving. 3-6 are formative years and when long term memory starts. Reading and writing may be the only positive thing that some children can be invoiced in.

Q7: What are two things you’d like for parents to implement to improve Lexile scoringA7: Myers –

Create a family tree, if you have a unique family make one up of create a family tree for Big Bird, Wonder Woman, or a Lego that you build at home. Use the items that you have to create an oral history and a way for your child to capture it. Second, believe in yourself and stop thinking that as a parent you cannot help your child or you do not know how to help improve literacy. Not reading or writing but literacy. The connection between language and communication is what makes us human, thus humane. Model dignity, strength and honor by learning something new practicing it and sharing your new skill with someone else.

Poverty and the condition of the underprivileged is no excuse to expect less from yourself or to behave as if you do not matter. Teach children that they matter by using Lexile as a way to give feedback to your child. Do not take any numbers and use them to break your child’s spirit. Look at the numbers and help your child create a plan of success to improve their literacy skills.


Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.

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