So during my professional development session today, I watched a a little video about Lexile scores. Here – it’s on YouTube, so you can watch it too. It’s only about six minutes long, and it’s informative. But honestly, the argument in this post isn’t about Lexile scores. It’s about metaphors.
My argument is with the shoe size metaphor used in the video. I don’t mean that I’m against it; in fact, it’s brilliant and succinct: you would never purchase your next pair of shoes based on your age or grade level. No, you measure your foot and buy shoes that fit based on the corresponding size. Duh. That’s a no-brainer. MetaMetrics figured out that this idea works for reading levels too. Giving students texts based only on their grade level or age is just as misguided as giving them shoes based on the same criteria. So MetaMetrics created a system to help teachers target texts that correlate to student ability levels. Brilliant! This allows students to learn and improve their literacy levels without making them feel frustrated. I, as a teacher, can plan lessons that incorporate texts on multiple levels to meet the abilities of all my students. I can ensure that I’m pinpointing each student’s area of weakness to help him or her improve. Likewise, I can help my higher-level students continue to exceed without boring or alienating them. This is truly a way to differentiate instruction. This is truly a way to foster understanding. This is truly a way to promote knowledge acquisition and improve intelligence.
Then they all have to take and pass the same test on the same level.
I’m letting my students train for the big game in their own tennis shoes, then giving everyone a box of size 9 stilettos and wishing ’em all luck in the playoffs.
Someone forward this video to Arne Duncan, please.