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Research drove the development of the Lexile® Framework for Listening. Components of the Framework include: listening assessments that result in Lexile measures for students; audio analysis that results in Lexile measures for audio materials; and the placement of both student ability and audio material onto the Lexile scale. 

Development of Listening Assessments

To develop the listening passages and items for the Lexile® Item Bank, MetaMetrics® worked in partnership with Listenwise, Achieve3000®, DaDa/Teach Away and Tales2go, Inc. Field studies were conducted throughout 2019 with more than 17,500 domestic and international students in Grades 1-12. More than 1,000 test questions and over 75 test forms were used in the field studies.

Four types of listening passages reflecting the listening that students encounter in school and daily life were developed and tested – teacher talk, expository, narrative and dialogue. Listening assessments were reviewed thoroughly to ensure that test passages and items are appropriate for students in a variety of contexts including for EFL students. 

Test items assess students’ understanding of the main idea, their ability to recall specific details, and their ability to make inferences about the meaning implied, but not explicitly stated.

Development of the Analyzer

Just like the Lexile Framework for Reading has a text analyzer to evaluate text complexity, the Lexile Framework for Listening provides a way to evaluate the listening difficulty of audio material. The variables in the Lexile® Audio Analyzer are the result of extensive research to discover which features, among dozens investigated, are most predictive of listening difficulty. 

The Analyzer evaluates the acoustics and content of audio material to deliver a Lexile measure that indicates its complexity. Vocabulary, grammar, word sounds and delivery are the four main indicators that the Analyzer evaluates. 

  • Vocabulary provides information such as the sophistication of the words used and how abstract or concrete a word is. Age of word acquisition is the most salient vocabulary variable.
  • Grammar looks at how words are formed into sentences. Complexity and frequency of grammar structures, as well as sentence length, are the important variables here.
  • Word sounds determine how easy it is to form a mental picture of the words as they are spoken. The most important variable here is the frequency of similar sounding words in the text, such as chair, hair, hare.
  • Delivery refers to elements of speech rather than content such as amount and length of pausing, speech clarity and intonation.

Mapping to the Lexile Scale

The Lexile Framework for Listening uses the same scale as the Lexile Framework for Reading. This way, comparisons can be made about students’ relative ability levels in both listening and reading. To map listening assessments to the Lexile scale, assessment data from more than 17,500 students were collected. Students were both domestic and international, both struggling and on grade-level, in Grades 1-12 during three data collection windows in 2019. Data from students who took both reading and listening tests were analyzed and calibrated. 

In addition, audio measures were mapped onto the Lexile scale, just like texts were mapped onto the reading scale. 

Want to Learn More?

This white paper presents a description of the listening framework’s development as well as:
• a brief description of key research findings on the importance of listening
• the relationship of listening to reading comprehension
• trends in listening assessment

Download White Paper