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Tue, 24 Apr 2001 10:21:38 -0700

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 ```> And, if not, aren't they inherently flawed? I think that the readability scores mentioned are inherently flawed for the reasons you stated. "Readability" is to at least some extent based on the background of the reader, and so it is perfectly possible that a text could be understood or not understood based as much on its subject matter as on its sentence structure. If I understand Flesch's work (and note that I'm a math teacher, so I'm not particularly well versed in this topic), he was attempting to come up with a simple, mathematical formula that could give an indication of the readability of a text. His result (modified by Kincaid): [(11.8 * average_syllables_per_word) + (0.39 * average_words_per_sentence) - 15.59] was based on taking many different existing texts and studying their sentence and syllabic length. Flesch-Kincaid scores are just an example of what we mathematicans call curve fitting. If you plot the grade a teacher is using a text in as the X-axis, the average number of syllables per word as the Y-axis, and the average number of words per sentence as the Z-axis, you get a three dimensional point that represents that book. Repeat this for hundreds of books and you have points all over the place, but there is a trend line which corresponds to the formula above. To summarize, knowing a Flesch-Kincaid score is 6.9 is about as useful as knowing a student's GPA is 3.2. Distilling a book (or a student) to a single number leaves much to be desired, but still has value for such things as initial screenings. Some have attempted to come up with better scoring devices. I found this site (http://www.renlearn.com/ar/atossummary.htm) via a brief Yahoo search, but I have no idea whether ATOS is better or worse than Flesch-Kincaid. Prof. Eric Kaljumagi LAC/Math Mt. San Antonio College```