Assessment Development and Administration

What is the target length of oral reading passages for each grade?

There is no agreed-upon standard for the number of words in an oral reading passage. Some publishers prefer to provide long passages and cut students off after 60 seconds of reading. Other publishers feel this is unfair to students. They prefer to provide passages that students can have the satisfaction of finishing within a reasonable time and then prorate the time on their performance to ascertain WCPM. MetaMetrics develops passages at various lengths but generally follows protocols for the longer passages per grade to ensure enough text, so even the fastest readers do not run out of words to read in one minute. For example, among the most widely used oral reading assessments, 1st-grade passage lengths range from 90 to 180 words, and 8th-grade passages are sometimes longer than 250 words.

What are typical ranges for oral reading passages for each grade?

MetaMetrics researched the oral readability of texts used in kindergarten through sixth grade. Results from more than 3,000 passages are shown in the following table:

Interquartile Range (25th - 75th percentile)

K 110L to 430L
1 170L to 510L
2 460L to 700L
3 640L to 850L
4 790L to 1000L
5 840L to 1130L
6 910L to 1230L

The data used in the research included passages from six popular ORF tests (e.g., DIBELS Next, easyCBM) as well as leveled readers and short +passages drawn from books and other materials from 20 top publishers (e.g., Capstone Press, Rigby, Sundance, Scholastic, and Pearson). The selected passages included common types of reading materials such as decodable and high-frequency-word based texts and age-appropriate texts with more difficult or complex words. There is a great deal of overlap between grades, reflecting the reality that within each grade, there is a range of passages that are age- and level-appropriate for oral reading assessment and practice.

Can partners edit passages in the Lexile oral reading item bank?

Minor edits to passages may be supported (i.e., name changes); however, edits can change the passage measure. Requests for edits should be discussed with MetaMetrics Test Development. MetaMetrics offers custom passage creation, which may be the optimum solution for partners with specific content requests/needs.

How are proper nouns (e.g., name of people, location) handled by the Lexile oral readability analyzer?

The Lexile oral readability analyzer treats proper nouns much like any other word when counting its syllables or adding it to sentence length calculations. However, when a proper noun is uncommon, it may not appear in some word databases. It thus would not contribute to several features (e.g., abstractness, age of acquisition) used in calculating a text’s oral readability measure. MetaMetrics develops oral reading passages with easily decodable proper nouns to ensure that idiosyncratic or unfamiliar-sounding names do not trip up students.

Can comprehension questions be added after oral reading passages?

Yes, comprehension questions can be added after oral reading passages. However, student responses to the comprehension questions are not incorporated into the student’s oral reading measure. Comprehension question results will be reported separately until additional research is conducted to determine the feasibility of including them as part of the oral reading measure.