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Readability formula

I colour-code the schemes in our unit according to reading age. A blob of colour on the inside cover quickly tells me the reading level of any book.

It works for pupils aged between 11 and 14 but with reading ages of seven to 10.

I use this rule-of-thumb method: take a 100-word sample from a book. Each word has at least one syllable. Count the number of syllables over that.

For example, 100 basic syllables plus 20 extra syllables scores 20. Repeat with another 100-word sample. Average the two results: 20 over 100 and 28 over 100 scores 24. One more sample might be needed if your results are widely different. Match the score with this table:

* Syllable score 15-20, reading age seven, colour-code black

* Syllable score 20-30, reading age eight, colour-code blue

* Syllable score 30-40, reading age nine, colour-code red

* Syllable score 40 - 50, reading age 10 years, colour-code green

Peter Ford, head of special support unit, Blaengwawr Comprehensive School, Rhondda Cynon Taff

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