Begin With the End in Mind

By: Linda Moyer

Struggling readers often find themselves far behind their classmates. Due to the fact that the difficulty of school reading material has increased faster than their ability, they find themselves frustrated, and in turn give up on the reading assignment and associate the activity with failure. However, frustration can be just as detrimental to an advanced reader who is not challenged by but bored with a reading assignment.

Statistics show that when teachers meet the student at their instructional level, they succeed. Lexile levels will help educators do just that. Since reading is not “one-size-fits-all,” Lexile levels (precise measuring tools to connect readers with reading material at a common level), should be used in daily lesson planning to differentiate instruction. The USA TODAY CTE Reading program is the perfect resource.

According to Kathie F. Nunley, author of Differentiating the High School Classroom, “Differentiation means we offer a variety of instructional strategies for the same specific objective.” Using Lexile levels to differentiate instruction helps to strengthen literacy skills and target instruction with support of materials that a student can understand. For example, in working with a variety of CTE students, each class is comprised of sometimes up to four different grade levels, with an adult student thrown into the mix. Because each student comes into the program with different experiences and diverse learning styles, some students can understand the textbook, while others struggle. Using the USA TODAY CTE Reading Program oftentimes solves all of my problems.

Let me share an example of how I have used the CTE Reading Program. When working with a Health Occupations class where students range from 9th to 12th grade, I will separate the class into small groups and have one group read and discuss the textbook material while another group will use USA TODAY for the most up-to-date information on the same topic to read and discuss. I will also print an article from the USA TODAY CTE Literacy Article Library for the third group. Each resource can be identified with a text Lexile measure which enables me to assign and distribute the appropriate reading material for each group’s ability, but still focusing on the same objective.  After reading, we then share the material and compare and contrast information from all three resources with graphic organizers also supplied by USA TODAY. This process assures that the text is appropriate for all levels within the class, enabling me to meet ALL students where they are and move them to the next level.  Students remain engaged because they can understand the material and are able to discuss the knowledge they have learned.

In a world where teachers are now being held accountable based on student test scores, it is in our best interest to begin with the end in mind:  connect student’s Lexile levels with text Lexile measures so that our students can be successful.

Have you used Lexile levels within your CTE school? If so, please share the pros and cons of your experience.

Are your students on a path for success? Below is a chart that identifies the CTE and the Lexile text measures that are used in each career cluster upon entering the workforce at the entry level. Will your students be able read and comprehend on the job to be successful?

Text Measures of Entry-level Occupational Reading Materials* 
Source: Achieving Reading Proficiency for All, by Willard R. Daggett, Ed.D.  

Career Clusters  in alphabetical order

Lexile Text Measure

(3rd Quartile Range)

Agriculture/Natural Resources

1270 – 1510L


1210 – 1340L

Arts/AV Technology/Communications

1100 – 1190L

Business and Administration

1210 – 1310L

Education and Training

1320 – 1370L

Health Science

1260 – 1300L

Hospitality and Tourism

1230 – 1260L

Human Services

1050 – 1200L

Law and Public Safety

1420 – 1740L


1200 – 1310L

Retail/Wholesale Sales and Service

1180 – 1270L

Scientific Research/Engineering

1190 – 1250L

Transportation, Distribution and Logistics

1170 – 1350L

* for the 13 Career Clusters for which there were adequate text samples in 2003

Where will your students go upon graduation? Below is a chart that identifies the collection of text material from the listed communities used in the study relevant to the median text Lexile measure. Are your students reading at a level to be successful in their future?

Lexile Level Text Information 
Source:  Aligning the Journey with the Destination, by Gary Williamson, Ph.D.; 2006

 Text Collection

Median Lexile Measure

University 1395
Community College 1295
Workplace 1260
Citizenship 1230
Military 1180
Undergraduate Admission Test 1180