Gov. Rauner, Secretary White and State Superintendent Smith Encourage Students to Use Free Online Reading and Math Resources During Summer Break

‘Find a Book’ Search Tool Aims to Fight Summer Learning Loss

SPRINGFIELD, IL– Governor Bruce Rauner, Secretary of State Jesse White and State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith encouraged all students across Illinois to access free online tools designed to promote reading, maintain math skills and inspire summer learning.  State leaders agree that Illinois’ 2 million public school students can make the most of summer vacation with good books and a plan to continue learning.

“Reading, exploring new concepts and maintaining math skills can be a part of the fun and adventure that makes summer vacation great and memorable,” Governor Rauner said. “With online resources, great public libraries and family support, children can continue to learn and maintain the gains they’ve made during the school year so they’re ready to succeed when school doors open again in the fall.”

The online “Find a Book” search tool utility provides a way for parents and children to quickly and easily find books that match a child’s reading level and interests as well as locate a local library carrying each title. The Summer Math Challenge is a free math skills maintenance program aimed at students who have just completed grades 2 through 6. It is designed to help children retain math skills learned during the previous school year. Parents who enroll their children in the program will receive daily emails from May 1 through July 31 with fun activities and links to educational resources.

Students can find their Lexile scores from a variety of benchmark measures, including many standardized tests.  They can also go to the “Find a Book” website, enter their grade and answer questions to help locate a reading range that best matches their skills.

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

“As the State Librarian, I applaud Illinois libraries for their efforts to encourage year-round reading,” said Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White.  “The `Find a Book’ search tool complements these efforts and helps parents who wish to read with their children every day over the summer.  This year, I also encourage parents to enroll their second- through sixth-graders in the summer math challenge in an effort to keep their math skills sharp.”

The “Find a Book” utility at www.lexile.com/findabook uses a student’s reading score, reported as a Lexile® measure, from many standardized tests 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 are incorporated into the Illinois Learning Standards. The new benchmarks replace the standards that had not been changed since their adoption in 1997 and ensure students leave high school ready for college and careers.

Users of the “Find a Book” search tool can also find appropriate books without a Lexile measure by submitting a child’s grade level and answering questions about their level of comfort with the typical reading materials at that grade level. The search utility will produce a starting Lexile range that can be further refined.

“Our annual Summer Learning Program recognizes we must all work together to encourage good reading habits and a love of learning,” said State Superintendent Smith. “Parents, local librarians, and teachers all help develop strong, lifelong readers and learners. The `Find a Book’ site gives children another modern tool to develop the timeless love of reading.”

“Find a Book” also offers a Spanish option that allows users to search all of the titles with Spanish Lexile measures. More information on Spanish Lexile measures is available at http://www.lexile.com/about-lexile/el-sistema-para-leer.

State officials urge school administrators, parents and librarians to promote summer reading with letters and informational fliers posted on the State Board of Education’s summer learning website at http://www.isbe.net/find-a-book/default.htm

They also encourage parents and educators to participate in iRead, an Illinois Library Association program to develop and provide high-quality, low-cost resources and products to enable local library staff to promote reading. The program’s audience is kindergarten through grade 8, but it also provides supplemental materials for pre-schoolers, teens and adults. This year’s theme is

“Read to the Rhythm!”

Additionally, they encourage parents and educators to participate in Illinois Reads, a statewide literacy program launched by the Illinois Reading Council to encourage state residents of all ages to read books by Illinois authors. Secretary of State White serves as honorary chair of the program; more information, including recommended children titles, can be found at www.illinoisreads.org.