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A comparison of text difficulty in systemic assessment using use Lexile® theory

Posted on March 01, 2019

Mrs Karen Roux, the project coordinator at the Centre for Evaluation and Assessment co-authored an article with Prof. Caroline Long (University of Johannesburg) and Ms Nangamso Mtsatse (University of South Africa) to investigate the use Lexile® Framework for Reading as an educational tool for gauging the reading difficulty of texts used in national and international assessments conducted in South Africa.  In their article entitled “A comparison of text difficulty in systemic assessment using Lexile theory” the researchers gave the results of the Lexile analyses which showed that the reading difficulty of the Annual National Assessments (ANA), conducted in 2014, varied between grades and did not match the same grade level in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS).

The researchers argue that by using the use Lexile® framework during the designing phase of assessment, and selecting texts that are level appropriate for the learners, the assessment process may be enhanced. Systemic assessment, as a component of the educational system, exerts an influence on both teaching and literacy development. For teaching and assessment to be in alignment, the researchers propose that three features need to be in place: Firstly, the acknowledgment of the teacher as a professional; Secondly, a model for teaching and learning; and lastly, a transparent assessment process. In the South African context with its rich linguistic landscape, the assessment of reading comprehension faces particular challenges and difficulties with regard to the above three features. Mrs Roux and Ms Mtsatse presented Lexile® theory at a Reading Association of South Africa (RASA) conference and the Annual General Meeting. Prof. Long also used Lexile theory as part of an honours programme at UJ. The article was published in the South African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies Journal.

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