Newsela Offers Informational Texts for All Reading Levels

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Newsela is an online news platform that offers current event articles at differentiated reading levels for students from elementary to high school. The program was developed in 2013 to help students master the reading and critical thinking that are required in subject area literacy as outlined in the Common Core State Standards. 

Every day, Newsela publishes at least three news articles from top U.S. newspapers and news agencies such as NASAThe Dallas Morning NewsBaltimore SunWashington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. There are also offerings from international news agencies such as  Agence France-Presse and The Guardian.

Newsela's partners include Bloomberg L.P., The Cato Institute,  The Marshall Project, Associated Press, Smithsonian, and Scientific American,

Subject Areas in Newsela

The staffers at Newsela rewrite each news article so that it can be read at five (5) different reading levels, from elementary school reading levels as low as grade 3 to maximum reading levels in grade 12.

Newsela Reading Levels

There are five reading levels for each article. In the following example, Newsela staffers have adapted information from the Smithsonian on the history of chocolate. Here is the same information rewritten at two different grade levels. 

Reading level 600Lexile (Grade 3) with the headline: "Story of modern chocolate is an old – and bitter – tale"

"The ancient Olmec people were in Mexico. They lived near the Aztecs and Maya. The Olmecs were probably the first to roast cacao beans. They made them into chocolate drinks. They may have done this more than 3,500 years ago." 

Compare this entry with the same text information which has been rewritten at an appropriate grade level for Grade 9.

Reading level 1190Lexile (Grade 9) with the headline: "Chocolate's history is a sweet Mesoamerican story"

"The Olmecs of southern Mexico were an ancient people who lived near the Aztec and Maya civilizations. The Olmecs were probably the first to ferment roast, and grind cacao beans for drinks and gruels, possibly as early as 1500 B.C., says Hayes Lavis, a cultural arts curator for the Smithsonian. Pots and vessels uncovered from this ancient civilization show traces of cacao."

Newsela Quizzes

Each day, there are several articles offered with four question multiple-choice quizzes, with the same standards used regardless of the reading level. In the Newsela PRO version, computer-adaptive software automatically will adjust to a student's reading level after he or she completes eight quizzes:

"Based on this information, Newsela adjusts the reading level for individual students. Newsela tracks each student’s progress and informs the teacher which students are on track, which students are behind and which students are ahead."

Every Newsela quiz is designed to help the reader check for understanding and provides immediate feedback to the student. The results of these quizzes can help teachers assess student comprehension. Teachers can note how well students do on an assigned quiz and adjust a student's reading level if necessary.  Using the same articles listed above based on information offered by the Smithsonian on the history of chocolate, the same standard question is differentiated by reading level in this side by side comparison.


Which sentence BEST states a main idea of the entire article?

A. Cacao was really important to ancient people in Mexico, and they used it in many ways.

B. Cacao does not taste very good, and without sugar, it is bitter.

C. Cacao was used as medicine by some people.

D. Cacao is hard to grow because it needs rain and shade.

Which of the following sentences from the article BEST develops the idea that cacao was incredibly important to the Maya?

A. Cacao figured into pre-modern Maya society as a sacred food, a sign of prestige, social centerpiece and cultural touchstone.

B. Cacao drinks in Mesoamerica became associated with high rank and special occasions.

C. Researchers have come across "cacao beans" that were actually made of clay.

D. “I think that chocolate became so important because it's harder to grow,” compared to plants like maize and cactus.

Each quiz has questions that are connected to the Reading Anchor Standards organized by the Common Core State Standards:

  • R.1: What the Text Says
  •  R.2: Central Idea
  •  R.3: People, Events & Ideas
  •  R.4: Word Meaning & Choice
  •  R.5: Text Structure
  •  R.6: Point of View/Purpose
  •  R.7: Multimedia
  •  R.8: Arguments & Claims

Newsela Text Sets

Newsela launched "Text Set",  a collaborative feature that organizes Newsela articles into collections that share a common theme, topic, or standard:

"Text Sets allow educators to contribute and leverage collections of articles to and from a global community of fellow educators."

With the text set feature, "Teachers can create their own collections of articles that engage and inspire their students, and curate those sets over time, adding new articles as they are published." 

Science text sets are part of an initiative Newsela for Science which is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The goal of this initiative is to engage students of any reading ability to "access hyper-relevant science content through Newsela's leveled articles."

Newsela Español

Newsela Español is Newsela translated into Spanish at five different reading levels. These articles all originally appeared in English, and they are translated into Spanish. Teachers should note that Spanish articles may not always have the same Lexile measure as their English translations. This difference is due to translation complexity. However, the grade levels of the articles do correspond across English and Spanish. Newsela Español can be a helpful tool for teachers who are working with ELL students. Their students can switch between the English and Spanish versions of the article in order to check for understanding.

Using Journalism to Improve Literacy

Newsela is using journalism to make kids better readers, and at this time there are more than 3.5 million students and teachers who read Newsela in more than half of the K-12 schools across the nation. While the service is free for students, the premium version is available for schools. Licenses are developed based on the size of the school. The Pro version allows teachers to review insights on student performance according to standards individually, by class, by grade and then how well students perform nationally.

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Your Citation
Bennett, Colette. "Newsela Offers Informational Texts for All Reading Levels." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Bennett, Colette. (2020, August 27). Newsela Offers Informational Texts for All Reading Levels. Retrieved from Bennett, Colette. "Newsela Offers Informational Texts for All Reading Levels." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 28, 2023).