Appears in issue JBO - Volume 22 - Issue 4
Background: Readability is a measure of the relative difficulty or ease of a particular reading passage. Since the late 1950’s, the profession of optometry has been using a series of stories with various eye movement recording equipment. This study aims to assess the homogeneity of passages by grade level and the appropriateness of the grade level assigned to each.
Methods: A study of readability statistics was conducted on 97 passages using a number of different formulae. The readability analysis engine in Microsoft and Word Readability Calculations by Micro Power & Light Co. were used. Results: Statistical analysis using ANOVA showed significant differences in the various methods for all passage levels (f<.0001). Certain passages were as much as two years different than their labeled readability levels.
Conclusions: Contrary to the intentions of the creators of these stories, a great deal of variability in the readability scores of these passages was found. The results call into question the degree of homogeneity of the stories within a specific grade level, as well as the validity of the grade level assignment for many of these paragraphs. In working through the steps needed to ascertain the readability of these passages, it was also determined that no one readability formula exists that will accurately determine the readability of stories at all levels of reading.