The Fry Readability Program
- Number of Syllables
- Number of Words
- Number of Sentences
- Readability so far
To use the program:
Follow the link:
I have checked this programme against some common UK primary reading schemes such as Ginn 360 and Oxford Reading Tree and it seems to agree quite well with the publisher's age/level recommendations (within about a year). I also looked at the readability levels for the passages of the Neale Reading Analysis (Neale, 1989) and found that these were within about one year of the comprehension norms.
I would recommend using readability only to compare the levels of different texts and to watch out for major mismatches, rather than make any precise judgements. Doing this, some primary schools have found that their general library books were at much too high a reading level for their average pupils (Hill, 1981). Studies of the readability of secondary textbooks (particularly Science) have also found that some are too hard for many pupils (Chiang-Soong and Yager, 1993).
Readability is not just the result of word and sentence length and you can find out more from an excellent on-line article written by Keith Johnson. This is practical as well as academically-based (with references) and looks at a number of readability measures with their benefits and drawbacks.
Chiang-Soong, B. and Yager, R (1993) Readability levels of the science textbooks most used in secondary schools, School Science and Mathematics, 93, 1, p 24-27.
Fry, E. (1968), A readability formula that saves time. Journal of Reading, 11 (7), 265-71.
Hill, L. (1981) A readability study of junior school library provision related to children’s interests and reading abilities. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 51, 102-104.
Neale, M. (1989) Neale Analysis of Reading Ability - revised British edition. Berkshire: NFER-NELSON.