Re: Defining Readability Levels

Subject: Re: Defining Readability Levels
From: Heidi Martin <hmartin -at- MICRON -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 3 Apr 1998 08:23:23 -0700

Barb Ostapina wrote:
>If so many ordinary adults don't read past the 7th grade level, how is it
>that the 7th grade level came to be defined as such? (Or the 8th grade
>level, or the 10th...) I realize it has to do with numbers of words,
>syllables, sentences, etc., but that's not what I mean. What I mean is,
>could it be that the standards used to define the variables that equal
>grade 7 are just plain not representative of current reality? Why isn't
>the 7th grade level defined as what most "average" 7th graders read?
>It makes me think about JC Penney (a department store with catalog
>shopping, for those not familiar). A few years ago they decided, I
>presume, that too many women were offended by having to order clothes in
>size 14-16. So they adjusted their sizing, and what used to be 14-16 became
>10-12, 10-12 became 6-8, etc. I imagine it made a lot of women happy to now
>be a smaller dress size. What the heck, everything's relative. Why not
reading scores, too?


Although I understand the sentiment (and the reality of being more busy
than you'd ever think you could handle), I think we would be doing
ourselves a great disservice by advocating lowering the readability
standards just because we're not currently living up to them. When my
children are in 7th grade, I hope they read at that level. The same for
10th, 12th, and, hopefully so on...I don't want to JCPenney-ize their
education just because our schools aren't doing a good job of teaching
our kids how to READ.

However, I don't have a problem with writing my instructional manuals at
the 8th grade level, as I try to do. The audience for these manuals is
global, and not everyone speaks (or reads) English as their first
language. I cannot assume an educational level above the 8th grade,


Heidi Martin


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