SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner, Secretary of State Jesse White and State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith are encouraging students across Illinois to access free online tools designed to promote reading, maintain math skills and inspire summer learning.
The online Find a Book search tool helps parents and children find books that match a child’s reading level and interests as well as locate a local library carrying each title. The Summer Math Challenge is a free math skills maintenance program aimed at students who have just completed grades 2 through 6. It is designed to help children retain math skills learned during the previous school year. Parents who enroll their children in the program will receive daily emails from May 1 through July 31 with fun activities and links to educational resources.
Students can find their Lexile scores from a variety of benchmark measures, including many standardized tests. They can also go to the Find a Book website, enter their grade and answer questions to help locate a reading range that best matches their skills.
Research shows that struggling learners score significantly higher on standardized tests taken at the start of summer than they do on the same tests taken at summer’s end. This summer learning loss is particularly evident in reading and is most pronounced among students from low socioeconomic backgrounds who may not have access to books. Studies show children who read through the summer months retain more of their academic skills and are better prepared to learn at the start of the school year.
Librarians, who have long promoted summer reading, are also encouraged to use Find a Book. Library staff can assist parents and students with the Find a Book tool and Lexile measures to help them find appropriate books.
The Find a Book utility at www.lexile.com/findabook uses a student’s reading score, reported as a Lexile measure, from many standardized tests to provide a Lexile range and corresponding list of texts within that range. The Lexile range for a reader is from 50L above his or her Lexile measure to 100L below. If a student attempts to read material above their Lexile range, the text may challenge the student and his or her ability to construct meaning from the reading experience may decrease. Likewise, material below a reader’s Lexile range will provide him or her with little comprehension challenge.
The Lexile Framework was used in the development of the reading standards for the new Common Core State Standards, which are incorporated into the Illinois Learning Standards. The new benchmarks replace the standards that had not been changed since their adoption in 1997 and ensure students leave high school ready for college and careers.
Users of the Find a Book search tool can also find appropriate books without a Lexile measure by submitting a child’s grade level and answering questions about their level of comfort with the typical reading materials at that grade level. The search utility will produce a starting Lexile range that can be further refined.
Find a Book also offers a Spanish option that allows users to search all of the titles with Spanish Lexile measures. More information on Spanish Lexile measures is available at http://www.lexile.com/about-lexile/el-sistema-para-leer.
State officials urge school administrators, parents and librarians to promote summer reading with letters and informational fliers posted on the State Board of Education’s summer learning website at http://www.isbe.net/find-a-book/default.htm.
They also encourage parents and educators to participate in iRead, an Illinois Library Association program to develop and provide resources and products to enable library staff to promote reading. The program’s audience is kindergarten through eighth grade, but it also provides supplemental materials for preschoolers, teens and adults. This year’s theme is Read to the Rhythm!
Additionally, they encourage parents and educators to participate in Illinois Reads, a statewide literacy program launched by the Illinois Reading Council to encourage residents of all ages to read books by Illinois authors. More information can be found at www.illinoisreads.org.
For information on how to take part in the Year of the Volunteer, go to www.serve.illinois.gov.