Reading Level Writing Test. Same Subject, Different Audience

I was recently asked to do an assessment for an educational content site. I needed to write any piece of my choosing and pen it for 2 reading levels: 8th grade and 2nd grade. 

So, of course, I pick something easy, Climate Change. 

When I initially drafted it, it tested as 11th grade on the Fleishman-Kincaid readability scale. It was interesting because I thought I was going... easy? I mean, this was the simplified version I would give to my college students. 

After some work, I managed to trim down to 8th grade. Then the somewhat more difficult task of the 2nd grade. I had to look for examples of that. I wanted to be accurate, but not condescending. I could hear Dora the Explorer's shrill tone in my ear as I wrote it. 

I think they came out well and I submitted as is. I do not own the copyright on these, the company I did the assessment for does. Don't steal it or you will have to deal with them!

 Climate Change

(8th grade reading level)

Climate Change is one of the most important challenges facing the world today. We have spent the last 200 years advancing our technology and changing the surface of the world. We have achieved great things, but all things come at a price, and not all are apparent right away. Our amazing culture is built on fossil fuels. Those fuels have pumped millions of tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air. 

Until the 1990’s most scientists did not recognize that CO2 was a problem since it did not resemble “normal pollution”. CO2 is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. Since the turn of the 21st century we have been seeing the effects of excess CO2, which traps heat like a blanket. While it always gets hotter during the summers, it has been getting hotter than usual, more often, and for a longer period of time. Winters have been getting warmer as well. So warm that some places that normally get snow and freezing temperatures now rarely see the thermometer drop below freezing. For example, Moscow, Russia, has historically been a place of cold and snow during the winter. So cold in fact that the city has winter carnivals and festivals to celebrate that fact. In January 2020, the average temperature in the city never dropped below freezing. This had never happened in their history. 

Climate change also means that weather patterns change. In the last 30 years, the weather patterns of the United States have altered dramatically. Within that time, the eastern half of the country has become wetter; leading to more torrential rains and devastating floods. While the western half has become drier; increasing the frequency and intensity of forest fires. In the autumn of 2020 the six largest forest fires in California history occurred at the same time. 

While these events are obviously increasing in frequency and intensity, there are still ways to stop and reverse its effects. The simplest of which is getting the world off of fossil fuels and removing excess CO2 from the atmosphere. While that concept is easy, the actual nuts and bolts can be difficult and will require effort and ideas from all parts of society; from government, to private industry, to choices that the average person can make daily. 

Climate change is an enormous challenge facing our planet and will require effort and collective will from our entire species to fix. Humanity has had its back against the wall several times in our past, and we have always adapted and persevered. We can, and will, do it again. 

What steps can you take to stop climate change and ultimately reverse it?

(2nd grade reading level)

Climate change is something we should all be concerned about. It keeps the world warm. Sometimes, it makes the world too warm.

During the summer when we play outside, it gets hot. Climate change makes it too hot to play! In the winter time, climate change makes it too warm, and there is no snow! That is not fun for anyone. 

Climate change is caused by carbon dioxide. It is what you breathe out. It also comes from using too much electricity. Trees like it and breathe it in. Right now there is too much, and the trees are full. You can help. Of course you can breathe! You can put less carbon dioxide in the air by turning off your TV and games when you are done. You can ride your bike or walk instead of driving. You can plant more trees so they can breathe it in. Together we can keep the world cooler and keep the snow in the winter! 

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

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