Total Reader FAQs
Looking for some quick answers regarding Total Reader or Lexile Measures? You've come to the right spot!
Total Reader (TR) is a self-administered instructional assessment tool for benchmarking student reading progress using The Lexile Framework for Reading. Its benefits include:
TR is a low-stakes assessment tool to supplement instructional reading programs in the classroom. A teacher should have students use it to monitor reading progress over time. It also provides supplemental reading on a student's individual Lexile level. Total Reader effectively monitors the effectiveness of all reading programs.
How do I access Total Reader?
You can log in to www.totalreader.com from any computer with internet access, any time. TR is hosted by us, so you don't need to download or install any applications. We recommend using the most up-to-date browser, such as Internet Explorer 10 or 11 or the latest version of Safari, Firefox or Chrome.
The Lexile Framework for Reading is a scientific approach to reading and text measurement. It includes the Lexile measure and the Lexile scale. The Lexile measure is a reading ability or text difficulty score followed by an "L" (e.g., 850L). The Lexile scale is a developmental scale for reading, ranging from 200L for beginning readers to above 1700L for advanced text. Total Reader relies on the Lexile scale to match reader and text. Because many book and test publishers have linked their products to the Lexile Framework, teachers can now connect different components of their curriculum. Once you know a student's Lexile measure, you can connect him or her to hundreds of thousands of books and tens of millions of articles from periodicals, newspapers, reference books, and transcripts to find material targeted to the student's reading level.
Lexile measures are based on two well-established predictors of how difficult a text is to comprehend: semantic difficulty (word frequency) and syntactic complexity (sentence length). All the passages in Total Reader's library have been analyzed using the Lexile Analyzer. The Analyzer splits text into 80 word-slices. Each slice is compared with the nearly 600-million word Lexile corpus – taken from a variety of sources and genres – and words in each sentence are counted. These calculations are put into the Lexile equation. Then, each slice's resulting Lexile measure is applied to the Rasch psychometric model to determine the Lexile measure for the entire text. For example, books like Arthur and the Recess Rookie (370L), Arthur Goes to Camp (380L), and Arthur, Clean Your Room! (370L) fall within the Lexile range of a typical second grade. These books have shorter sentences and familiar words appear frequently in these books. Conversely, books in the Harry Potter series (880L- 950L), Little Women (1300L), and Don Quixote (1410L) contain longer sentences and more complex, less common words.
Many Trade books and textbooks have been linked to the Lexile Framework through readability analysis. More than 100, 000 books from more than 450 publishers have been listed in The Lexile Book Database, which we provide access to through Total Reader.
Students choose and read age-appropriate Lexiled passages, each with a series of omitted words, called cloze items. For each omitted word (which is representative of the text's overall Lexile measure), the student sees four possible substitutions. By clicking a word, the student fills in the text and can continue reading. The cloze item is presented within the context and flow of the reading passage; the student need not stop or move back and forth between a separate answer page and the passage. The content and associated cloze items are referred to as passages. After a student completes an initial set of passages (the equivalent of 40 cloze items), Total Reader produces a Lexile measure. The student’s Lexile measure will be reported each time a passage is completed. This way, Total Reader continually generates updated Lexile measures and students are always aware of their reading range. Students have access only to those passages that are 100L above and 100L below their current measure. This range is consistent with the Lexile Framework guidelines for independent reading. The system records and represents progress in a series of reports.
Once the student has completed 40 cloze items (insertions), which usually requires the student to complete about six to eight passages, the student will receive a Lexile measure. Thereafter, their Lexile measure will be evaluated with each passage they complete based on their progress. Any adjustment to a Lexile score is based on the last 40 cloze item responses.
Total Reader automatically adjusts and delivers passages to your students according to how they perform on the passages. After the initial 40 items are completed (approximately six to eight passages), your student will receive an accurate measure, known as the Initial Valid Lexile. The more passages your student completes, the more precise the measure gets.
If a student does not complete a reading passage, it does NOT affect their score/ Lexile measurement in any way. It only means that the student will not be able to access the same reading passage again.
Once students know their Lexile measure, they can go to the Suggested Reading page and click on the green Lexile Database button to access the entire database of Lexiled books. This free database contains a search engine that permits users to search for texts by keyword, title, author, Lexile range and other criteria. With this tool, students can search for specific titles based on their current Lexile range and use keywords of interest to identify, purchase and/or check out books from their local libraries. The selections will challenge them with new vocabulary and syntax without overly frustrating them. Newly Lexiled titles are continually added to this large database.
In Total Reader, students can select from fiction and nonfiction topics. Selecting a passage title allows students to read a brief, inviting introduction to the passage. Students can then continue with that passage or return to the list of topics to make another selection. The passages in Total Reader have been carefully culled by trained teachers/editors from a variety of real-world sources, such as well-regarded children's magazines, novels, and nonfiction books. Passages cover a number of high interest topics that students wouldn’t normally encounter in their school textbooks. They have been carefully organized into Lexile and age-appropriate categories. So a third grader reading at 650L who chooses the topic "Cars, Trucks and More" will receive a different selection of titles than a twelfth grader reading at 650L, who chooses the same topic.
Total Reader and The Lexile Framework allow teachers to look at instructional materials and determine how they relate in terms of difficulty. For example, if students are struggling to read a textbook, supplementing the textbook with other materials that are easier to read allows students to build background and vocabulary, a practice known as "Layering meaning." This enables students to better handle the textbook. By providing teachers with information on additional Lexiled resources, Total Reader allows teachers to supplement textbook reading material with related articles and books that span the Lexile range of the students in the class. Total Reader is as useful to readers who are advancing more slowly as it is for readers who are advancing rapidly. It enables teachers and students to select books targeted to students' current skill levels, reducing the risk of frustrating readers who are advancing at a slower pace compared to those who are progressing faster. Please see the Total Reader's What Works Guide, which can be found in the Training section of the Total Reader website for additional suggestions regarding Total Reader's use in the classroom.
Lexile measures do not translate specifically to grade levels. Within any classroom there are a range of readers and a range of materials. For example, in a fifth-grade classroom there will be some readers that are far ahead of the rest and some readers far below the rest, to say that some books are "just right" for fifth graders assumes that all fifth graders are reading at the same level. The educational levels displayed on the Lexile chart indicate approximately the middle 50 percent of materials found in a typical grade-level classroom (See Figure 1, below). MetaMetrics has also conducted numerous studies with large samples of students and has observed approximate reading levels (about the middle 50 percent of the students – the intequartile range) for each grade level. There are still about 50 percent of the students who are reading higher or lower than these ranges. The average Lexile score for a high school graduate is 1150L.
Data for the first column of text measures in Figure 2 below came from a research study designed to examine collection of textbooks designated for specific grades (MetaMetrics, 2009). The "stretch" text measures (defined in 2010 through studies related to the development of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts) in the second column represent the demand of text that students should be reading to be college and career ready by the end of Grade 12.
Notice that there is a considerable overlap between the grades. This is typical of student reading levels and texts published for each grade. In addition, the level of support provided in selecting appropriate materials will have an impact on the reading experience. Students who are interested in reading about a specific topic (and are therefore motivated) often are able to read text at a higher level than would be forecasted by the reader's Lexile measure. Although a student may be an excellent reader, it is incorrect to assume that he or she will comprehend text typically found at (and intended for) a higher-grade level. A high Lexile measure for a student in one grade indicated that the student can read grade-level-appropriate materials at a very high comprehension rate. The student may not have the background knowledge or maturity to understand material written for an older audience. It is always necessary to preview materials prior to selecting them for a student.
Individual results are available to the student via the Progress tab. Teachers can access the students' individual reports, as well as composite class data via the Class Administrative Reports page. Results are also available to school administrators, depending on the level of administrative access determined when administrative accounts are set up. Five levels of Total Reader Reports contain detailed information on individual as well as group metrics on current Lexile measures; Lexile growth, number of passages accessed (with fiction/ nonfiction distinction); reading group assignment, and targeted reading ranges, including Common Core.