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Reading Level Assessment: Programs that determine Reading Difficulty

Rick Bennett said: "There are no programs to measure reading difficulty level -- in reality they are just formulas that give a number that gives an indication of reading difficulty. You plug in the numbers and do the math and presto -- you have a reading level. Computerized programs just do the plugging in and the math for you."

LITERACY | Fleish-Kinkaid Level

THE COMPUTER PROGRAM "WORD" has a reading level -- it is an option on the spell-grammer check. It gives you the Fleish-Kinkaid level. I have started using it as a rough guide whenever I make up worksheets for the kids. I also occasionally use it to get the reading level of textbook passages to determine whether a child is a poor reader or whether the text is just too difficult for the age/grade of the child.
I also use it to give me an estimate of writing development. I type in the child's passage and get a reading level of that. It may not be quite cricket -- but it gives me a way of measuring growth over time. ANY reading teacher should be able to give you several different formulas you could use and some have been put on a disk. Be very aware that all of these programs are mathematical in nature, not literary. They measure such things as number of letters in a word, number of words in a sentence, number of sentences in a paragraph, etc. They do not tell you that a boy in fifth grade cannot read a book with a sixth grade reading difficulty level. Because he probably can -- if that book has to do with airplanes, or football, or snakes, or any other subject he cares about.
I do think reading levels should be run on all textbooks. After we bought our sixth grade history text we ran some reading level formulas and found out that it has a reading difficulty level of tenth grade. Keep this in mind also. Because of the mathematical way all of these formulas compute difficulty, both of the following passages will have the same reading difficulty level.

PASSAGE ONE:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal: that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

PASSAGE TWO:
Happiness of pursuit the and liberty, life, are these among that; rights unalienable certain with creator their by endowed are they are that: equal created are men all that, self-evident be to truths these hold we.

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