Flesch-Kincaid tests are readability tests designed to determine the level of difficulty that readers will have when they try to comprehend English based texts. Flesch-Kincaid tests are simple, but powerful, formulas that are used by countless publishers around the world. These formulas are utilized in programs such as Microsoft Word to deliver useful statistics about a document, which includes the Flesch-Kincaid test scores. The Flesch-Kincaid tests are broken down into two areas: Flesch Reading Ease and the Flesch -Kincaid-readability score.
Flesch Reading Ease
The Flesch Reading Ease determines how difficult it is to read a particular text. Flesch Reading Ease rates a text on a 100-point scale. The higher the score, the easier it is to understand the document. On the other hand, the lower the score, the harder it is to understand the document. Experts suggest that most written documents should fall between 60 and 70.
The formula above is evaluating the average sentence length (the number of words divided by the number of sentences) and the average number of syllables per word (the number of syllables divided by the number of words). Therefore, based on the formula, you can manipulate the difficulty of a text my changing the number of words, syllables, and the number of sentences in a document to make it more or less challenging.
Flesch–Kincaid Grade Level Score
The grade-level equivalence is what the average person thinks of when they think about the difficulty level of texts. Teachers can utilize this test to determine the readability of any document found on the web or created by a teacher. With the demands of the Common Core and the focus on content based texts such as science and social studies, quickly determining whether or not a text is appropriate for a particular grade level is made easy by utilizing these tests. Even though, officially, most standardized tests utilize the Lexile Levels, you can still utilize Flesch –Kincaid levels to quickly determine the grade-level of texts.
Here are two speeches recently delivered by President Obama, just to place this in context. The first speech is the recently delivered immigration address to the nation on November 20, 2014. This speech, according to Flesch–Kincaid scores, was delivered at almost a 9th grade level, with a Flesch Reading Ease in the seventies, which is pretty much an average score. On the other hand, his speech delivered at Newtown High School in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was written at almost under a 5th grade level. Therefore, an individual with an elementary level education would be more likely to understand what he was trying to say when he was speaking about the shooting at Sandy Hook. However, a poorly educated individual, or a lower elementary student, would have left his speech on immigration slightly more dazed and confused, because it was harder according to Flesch-Kincaid readability scores.
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