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Lexile® measures provide an alternative — and possibly more useful — measure of reading ability than grade-equivalent scores.

  1. You can use Lexile measures to find reading materials to meet and challenge individual student reading abilities.
  2. Lexile measures help you measure and forecast reader growth.

There’s no direct correspondence between a specific Lexile measure and a specific grade level. However, there is a range of student abilities within each grade, and you might find it useful to see what the typical Lexile measures are within a given grade. We conducted a research study using national samples to describe Lexile ranges for each grade. Results are shown in the chart below. These reader measures are national user norms. Data for these norms came from a large sample of students who were administered tests that reported Lexile measures in the years 2010 through 2016. However, please note:

  • This information is for descriptive purposes. The goal is to give you a sense of how a student’s Lexile measure (reading ability) compares to Lexile measures for students in the same grade. The ranges are not intended to be a guide or standard that students are expected to reach. See our FAQ on performance, norm-referenced interpretations, and criterion-referenced interpretations of test scores for more information.
  • The Lexile range shown is the middle 50 percent of reader measures for each grade. This means that 25 percent of students had Lexile measures below the lower number and 25 percent had Lexile measures above the higher number.

Typical Reader Measures by Grade

Grade         Reader Measures, Mid-Year 25th percentile to 75th percentile (IQR)
1 BR120L* to 295L
2 170L to 545L
3 415L to 760L
4 635L to 950L
5 770L to 1080L
6 855L to 1165L
7 925L to 1235L
8 985L to 1295L
9 1040L to 1350L
10 1085L to 1400L
11 & 12 1130L to 1440L

*Beginning Reader (BR) is a code given to readers and texts that are below 0L on the Lexile scale. The lower the number following the BR code, the more advanced the reader or text is. The higher the number, the less complex the text is or less skilled the reader is.

We also studied the text demands of typical reading material for students in grades 1 through 12. The “stretch” text measures (defined in 2012 through studies related to the development of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts) represent the demand of text that students should be reading to be college- and career- ready by the end of Grade 12. Read our research briefs describing this work:
The Text Complexity Continuum in Grades 1-12
The Lexile Framework for Reading Quantifies the Reading Ability Needed for “College and Career Readiness”
Bending the Text Complexity Curve to Close the Gap

Following procedures similar to those established for Grades 1 through 12, the text complexity range for kindergarten was determined to be BR40L to 230L. This range of texts represents approximately the middle 50% of the distribution of text complexity measures of a large set of books intended for use in kindergarten.  This range describes a range of texts that students are likely to encounter in kindergarten and should be able to read independently or with minimal support. It is not a “stretch” range, but rather a descriptive range of texts intended for kindergarten readers. Examples of books that span the kindergarten text complexity range are Big and Little (BR30L) by Rigby Publishing,  Cat Traps (110L) by Molly Coxe and Put Me in the Zoo (220L) by Robert Lopshire.


Lexile Text Measures to Guide Reading for College and Career Readiness

Grade  Text Range for Kindergarten
K BR40L* to 230L

*Beginning Reader (BR) is a code given to readers and texts that are below 0L on the Lexile scale. The lower the number following the BR code, the more advanced the reader or text is. The higher the number, the less complex the text is or less skilled the reader is.

Grade   College and Career Ready Ranges*
1 190L to 530L
2 420L to 650L
3 520L to 820L
4 740L to 940L
5 830L to 1010L
6 925L to 1070L
7 970L to 1120L
8 1010L to 1185L
9 1050L to 1260L
10 1080L to 1335L
11 & 12 1185L to 1385L

The Details: Why Lexile Measures Don’t Sync Up with Grade Equivalents

Common Issues With Grade Equivalents

Grade equivalents are scores based on the performance of students in the test’s norming group. The grade equivalent represents the grade level and month of the typical (median) score for students. For example, a 5th-grade student who earns a 5.9 on a norm-referenced test has earned a score similar to the 50th percentile students in the test’s norming group who were in their ninth month of fifth grade. There are a few issues with grade equivalents:

  • Grade equivalent scores are often misinterpreted as being a grade level standard. A grade equivalent of 5.9, for example, does not necessarily represent the desired level of achievement for all grade 5 students at the end of the school year. It simply represents the norming group’s median score, or projected score at that point in time. Achieving the same score as the average student in the norming group may not be an appropriate goal for all students. In contrast, Lexile measures are not generated from grade level norms and do not presume a specific grade level interpretation. Struggling students are not stigmatized with a grade equivalent that labels them as “below grade.” Rather, students have an independent Lexile measure and can select appropriately difficult books within their Lexile range.
  • The grade equivalent does not represent the appropriate grade placement for a student or the level of the material the student should be studying. Imagine a student scores a 7.9 on a fourth-grade reading test. The 7.9 does not mean that she’s mastered 7th-grade reading material or that she should be reading books appropriate for 7th- or 8th-grade students. All you know for sure is that the student scored well above the average 7th-grade student in the norming group in reading. Because the Lexile measure does not suggest grade level placement, this type of misinterpretation does not occur. The Lexile measure can be used to identify material at the appropriate difficulty level for the student regardless of the student’s grade level.

Measuring Growth

In addition to potential misinterpretation, the grade equivalent scale makes it more difficult to measure growth. The grade equivalent scale is not an equal-interval scale,. This leads to the common misperception that a student who moves the same number of grade equivalents at one level on the scale (e.g., from 2.5 to 2.9) has “grown” the same amount as a student who moves the same number of grade equivalents at a different level on the scale (e.g., from 8.5 to 8.9). In fact, grade equivalent units are not equal-interval units. The amount of growth in ability needed to move from 2.5 to 2.9 is much greater than the amount required to move from 8.5 to 8.9.

Conversely, the Lexile® scale is an equal-interval scale. Regardless of the point on the scale, the amount of growth in ability required to move between two points is the same. In other words, moving from 240L to 340L on the Lexile scale represents the same increase in ability as moving from 840L to 940L. Because Lexile measures are equal-interval units, they can be used in mathematical calculations.