Biased perspectives combined with weak differentiation and low quality quizzes
First, as a former teacher, I've worked with this type of presentation before--it really sounds great in theory -- kids have access to all kinds of interesting content, at their particular reading level, and quizzes are created by Newsela, again at an appropriate (often called "differentiated" level). Teachers can choose from a variety of interesting topics seemingly from reliable sources. The concept is truly awesome. However, the reality is a bit different. When switching between lexile levels for a variety of articles, I really found a difference in the quality of the presentation. Sometimes, just to change the lexile level, all Newsela did was remove a sentence or two, which awkwardly left out necessary explanation (they didn't rewrite it in a simpler way, as they could have done). More importantly, though, was that the quality of the quiz questions was quite low...my impression on average was that about 3 out of 4 questions were decent enough, but not great, while often 1 question was just plain weak. If you're ok with all of that (and I can see why a teacher might be, because it reduces their workload, and teachers are often overworked and underpaid), there's the additional HUGE issue of the bias that's inherent in these articles. Newsela takes much of its current event content from left-leaning media outlets. This could really be ok, IF they presented both sides of an issue. They do not. Kids are led to believe that the Newsela article is the ONLY way to view a controversial topic. Let's not underestimate our kids--they would grow more as learners and as citizens if they analyzed both sides of a topic. Why not present both? I'm appalled that Newsela is actually getting away with this with young and impressionable kids. Parents, please read the articles and weigh in with your kids. Discuss what they're reading at school.