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Illinois students urged to use free reading tool

‘Find a Book’ online tool aims to fight summer learning loss

Published: Thursday, May 16, 2013 4:27 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Pat Quinn, Secretary of State Jesse White and State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch encouraged all students across Illinois to access a free online tool designed to promote summer reading and keep students’ brains active before school resumes in the fall. State leaders agree that summer vacation should not signal a break from learning for Illinois’ 2 million students.

“By reading during summer months, students can build a strong bridge from one school year to the next,” Governor Quinn said. “This free online tool is a great way for children to spend time with their parents while sharpening reading skills and preparing for the year ahead.”

The online “Find a Book” utility at www.lexile.com/findabook provides a way for parents and children to quickly and easily search books that match a child’s reading level and interests as well as locate a local library carrying each title.

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” utility and Lexile measures to help them find appropriate books.

“Libraries in Illinois promote reading year round, and the `Find a Book’ search tool complements those efforts,’’ said Secretary of State Jesse White, who serves as State Librarian. “I urge parents to read with their children every day to help them develop a lifelong love of reading and learning. When children begin reading on their own, they make gains in the classroom and open themselves to new and exciting worlds.”

The “Find a Book” utility uses a student’s reading score, reported as a Lexile measure, from state standardized tests, including the ISAT, 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 schools across the state are in the process of implementing. The new standards replace the outdated Illinois State Learning Standards and ensure students leave high school ready for college and careers.

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