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CCRS and Reading: Overview

Guide to...

Index to Related Documents


College and Career Readiness:
Through the Lens of Lexiles

​Gina Massengill, M.Ed.

This case study provides an overview of lexile levels, along with a useful section outlining the Lexile levels required to meet the demands of post-secondary learning and work.  A sampling of materials and corresponding typical Lexiles includes:  texts (and test prep materials), newspapers, personal consumer reading (such as applications, user manuals, etc.), and entry-level occupational reading materials (by career cluster).

Are my students on track for College and Career Readiness? 

This technical paper developed in conjunction with MetaMetrics, outlines the connection between Common Core State Standards, Text Complexity, Stretch ranges, and CCRS "On Track" measures using Level Set results.

Is Career Readiness a
Neglected Strand

Lara Delosa, Reading Today, Oct/Nov 2013

"The article focuses on the International Reading Association's (IRA) International Literacy Day celebration in the U.S. on September 9, 2013, which discusses the importance of the career readiness. It states that the IRA explores one of the goals of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to improve the knowledge and skills needed for success in college and careers of young people. It mentions the three components of career readiness such as academic, employability, and technical skills."

Helping High Schools
Meet Higher Standards

Kathryn H. Au, Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, April 2013

"As funding for school improvement becomes increasingly scarce, high schools must try to do more with less. A focused, disciplined approach to literacy improvement is recommended, based on three major actions. First, school leaders should build the infrastructure to support a multi-year literacy improvement effort. Second, they should teach teachers to view each new standards document as an opportunity to examine and, when necessary, raise their expectations for students literacy learning. Language suggesting that teachers must adopt or comply with standards runs counter to this approach. Finally, leaders should have teachers take ownership of literacy improvement efforts through building their own staircase curricula."

New Literacies and
the Common Core

William Kist, Educational Leadership, March 2013

"This article provides four strategies related to one or more of the Common Core standards in English language arts and literacy. The strategies include: (1) give students practice reading screen-based texts; (2) give students practice in digital writing; (3) give students practice in collaborative writing; and (4) give students practice working with informational texts. The four strategies described here are not difficult to implement and, ironically, can be attempted with little new technology. More powerful than a room full of gadgets is a teacher who has a deep understanding of what the new forms of reading and writing entail."

Stretch Standards

A Visual Comparison 

What does College and Career Ready reading look like?

How do students build College and Career Readiness through reading?

  1. Students build knowledge through content rich informational reading, across the curriculum.
  2. Students write using informational sources as evidence to support analysis and claims.
  3. Students engage with texts of greater (growing) complexity) in order to meet the demands of college and career.

How is "text complexity" determined?

Associated Task
What background knowledge and experience does the reader possess upon text engagement?  What motivations and interests exist?  How complex is the task associated with the reading?

Text Readability
What is the technical complexity of the text, determined through standard measures, such as Lexile. These standards utilize word/sentence length (syntactic difficulty) and word frequency (semantic difficulty).  Note:

  • Longer sentences are more complex and require more short-term memory to process.
  • Words that occur more frequently in written language (there are 650,000,000+ words in the English language) are easier to comprehend. 

Conceptual Complexity
How do themes. levels of meaning, literary structure, and other language elements impact the ability of the student to understand the text.




Sign up for a free account and use this tool to analyze existing texts (copyright laws apply) or your own work to be distributed to your students.

Lexile Map (2013)

Provides a sample text block for each lexile band, along with sample book titles.  Printable color and grayscale posters.

ACT Text Complexity Rubrics 

These rubrics (for literary narratives and informational texts) are designed specifically to correlate with the ACT-CCRS and will help you to evaluate texts based on levels of meaning, structure, language, abstractness, density, and knowledge demands (including textual analysis, life experiences, and content and discipline knowledge).   

Teaching Beyond the Lexile

Analysis of a Text for Student Reading Materials

When selecting texts for classroom use, look beyond the Lexile to determine suitability for both reading and pushing student skills.  The ACT Text Complexity Rubrics provide a great tool for extensive analysis.  If time doesn't allow, use the following quick assessments to gauge appropriateness to the task:

  • Identify words that are likely to be unknown by the reader. 
  • Identify words taht are critical to passage understanding.
  • Identify words that are likely to be useful to the student's future performance in an upcoming task or in general use.

Pre-Teaching a Text for Student Reading
Dynamic Vocabulary Instruction, Anita Archer

Prepare students for any reading tasks by supporting (and differentiated) vocabulary aquisition. 

  • Teach new vocabulary.
  • Teach all word relatives (i.e. how does analyze related to analysis). 

Real-Time Reading

Linking content to current events exposes students to new ideas and contexts that challenge their reading.  You can support their learning by  

  • discussing and reinforcing analytical terminology common in news media.
  • helping students readily identify superlatives and other loaded language.
  • encouraging a habit of inquiry and additional reading when context is unclear.

Literary vs. Informational Texts

Below is a comparison of the percentage distribution of literary to informational text recommended for students at MGHS.




 Incoming Freshmen 
(Grade 8)

45 55

Graduating Seniors
(Grade 12)<.p>

30 70

National Assessment Governing Board.  Reading Framework for the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress. Washington, D.C.: American Institutes for Research 2007.

Are they ready?

Are they ready?

...for career and college?

Task Lexile
11th/12th grade textbooks 1090L
GED Prep and Test 1060L
SAT/ACT/AP Prep and Test 1150L
Military training/field manuals 1180L 
Workplace documents 1260L
Loan applications, tax forms 1250L
Postsecondary textbooks 1355L


Common college and career tasks (along with many citizen tasks) require higher lexiles than the typical high school textbook. Student Readiness for Postsecondary Options (Gary Williamson, Ph.D., 2004) stay informed?

Newspaper Lexile
USA Today 1090L
Associated Press 1060L
The Wall Street Journal 1180L
The Washington Post 1180L 
The New York Times 1230L 
Reuters 1260L


Much of what passes for "news" comes in the form of "sound bytes."  Encouraging students to seek and follow news sources that dig deeper into issues and ideas will critical thinkers and educated citizens. Non-English references and unfamiliar contexts in these stories typically place these articles at a higher lexile. explore other worlds?



The Firm
by John Grisham


Ender's Game
by Orson Scott Card

by Kantor McKinlay

Kite Runner
by Kahled McCarthy


The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald


Lexiles are based partically on sentence length.  Because fiction generally consists of large sections of dialogue, this can greatly effect the lexile score of any modern literary novel.  Students can push themselves by:

  • selecting novels that also include large descriptive passages.
  • choosing complex themes and topics that introduce them to new vocbulary.
  • engaging with a variety of structures and literary styles.

...think about new ideas?

Non-Fiction Title Lexile

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach


by Malcolm Gladwell


Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot


A Walk in the Woods
by Bill Bryson


Silent Spring
by Rachel Carson


Popular non-fiction often focuses on cutting-edge ideas and therefore includes new vocabulary and content that can be challenging. 

Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin

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