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Q: Education ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Education
Category: Reference, Education and News > Education
Asked by: betsyanne-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 30 Jan 2004 03:36 PST
Expires: 29 Feb 2004 03:36 PST
Question ID: 301734
what is the reading grade level of these newspapers?  The New York

Request for Question Clarification by politicalguru-ga on 30 Jan 2004 04:32 PST
Dear Betsy Anne, 

Could you please clarify your question? What did you mean by "reading
grade level": -
- That a Researcher would grade them or rank them from "easy" to "difficult"? 
- To know which newspaper fits a certain age or grade (as in class, in
school); if so - are your students ESL or English speaking students?
- Something else?
Subject: Re: Education
Answered By: ragingacademic-ga on 30 Jan 2004 09:04 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear betsyanne,

Thanks for your question.  First, let me request that if any of the
following is unclear or if you require any further research ? please
don?t hesitate to ask me for a clarification.

You requested the reading grade level of these newspapers:  The New York

Here?s how I approached your question ? for each newspaper, I grabbed
three random articles off the Web and copied them into Word; I then
ran an advanced spellcheck that reports such statistics as Fleisch
Kincaid Grade Level, Fleisch Reading Ease and % of passive sentences. 
Finally, for each newspaper I averaged over the three results and
report below, along with the urls for the articles I had used.

New York Times


Average results are as follows:

Fleisch Kincaid Grade Level  11.2
Fleisch Reading Ease  49.93
% of passive sentences  14%



Average results are as follows:

Fleisch Kincaid Grade Level  11.8
Fleisch Reading Ease  45.23
% of passive sentences  10%

USA Today


Average results are as follows:

Fleisch Kincaid Grade Level  12.0 (!)
Fleisch Reading Ease  37.23
% of passive sentences  13.7%

I hope this response adequately addresses your request.  Please let me
know if you are in need of additional information concerning this


Request for Answer Clarification by betsyanne-ga on 31 Jan 2004 11:53 PST
Dear ragingacademic - 

I thought your answer was very helpful, and I am going to use your
data to talk with my principal - the one who wanted to know how we
would use newspapers in the high school classroom.  BUt I have
actually heard that USA TODAY was written at an eighth grade level and
is therefore perfect for the average public high school classroom,
given the varying reading abilities of the student.  Is there another
source that could be found that would give another point of view?  If
this other source gives the same info, fine.  If it gives a
conflicting answer, fine.  I can use both. I will use the paper no
matter what. I am also very interested in the data on the NY TIMES, my
favorite paper. But the data helps me know how to answer questions I
get on its suitability.  In Massachusetts, the MCAS reading tenth
grade test is quite difficult.  The newspaper is the perfect
preparation (and source) for the non-fiction parts of it.   Thanks for
your help.

Clarification of Answer by ragingacademic-ga on 31 Jan 2004 12:53 PST
Betsyanne - thanks so much for the five star ranking and your generous
tip.  I will conduct some additional research and will contact you
within a couple of days with additional information.

thanks much,

Clarification of Answer by ragingacademic-ga on 04 Feb 2004 15:47 PST
Betsyanne - hello again.

I conducted some research and came across some information and
articles which may be of interest to you.

That newspapers in general are written at 8th grade level (e.g. USA
Today) seems to be a myth - I could not find any research to support

See for example Mike King writing in The Atlanta Journal Constitution,
Jul 26 2003: "Roy Goolsby of Rome, Ga., recalled that he was taught
most newspaper stories are written for people reading on about the
eighth-grade level for comprehension."

A Wall Street Journal article from Dec 1 2000, "If you can read this,
you most likely are a high-school grad..." presents some history on
the "science" of measuring readability.  The Flesch score, for
example, is the result of the work of a famous Viennese lawyer who
immigrated to the US in 1938...he wrote a book you have probably heard
of - "Why Johnny Can't Read."

Top reading scales include:
+ The Extended Fry Scale
+ The Fog Index, developed by Robert Gunning
+ Flesch reading index
+ Flesch-Kincaid index

According to this WSJ article, the average American reads at the level
of an eighth grader. The article itself was run through the same Word
filter I had used and scored as an 11th grade piece on the Flesch
Kincaid index.

An article in Editor & Publisher, written by Jack Hart and published
November 6 1993 (v126 i45 p.5), provides some direct estimates of the
type you had been seeking:
+ New York Times story - 14
+ LA Times - 14
+ Washington Post - 14
+ Associated Press - 13
+ Times - 12+
+ Wall Street Journal - 11 (average)
+ Newsweek - 11 (average)

Numbers higher than 12 reflect a different scale than the one
incorporated into Word by Microsoft.

This article recommends that any publication aiming for general
readership attempt to average a Flesch index of 10 - or writing
equivalent to the 10th grade.

I hope this additional research proves to be relevant for you.

I'd love to work on future projects with you - you can reach me by
posting your research request and adding "for ragingacademic" in the
subject line and/or by posting a "request for clarification" to this

betsyanne-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
excellent.  this researcher used tools I do not have.  I thought the
answer sounded right.  I would also like to have one more rating -
although I have no idea where to find it.

There are no comments at this time.

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