A recent survey shows our beloved US Congress is now easier to understand and is reaching out to more people than ever before. Most people, however, won’t understand it that way.
Somebody called the Sunlight Foundation has found that since 2005, Congress has reduced the “grade level” of its speeches from 11.5 on the Flesch-Kincaid scale to 10.6, from juniors in high school to sophomores.
The scale is widely misunderstood. It does not refer to the educational attainment of listeners. Instead it gauges how hard something is to understand. Have you watched a high school student do homework? They often underline and highlight to capture the meaning. OK if you are reading a text book. Less OK if you are conducting a democracy.
Most newspapers and magazines fall in the 6th grade to 9th grade level. So Congress is moving in the right direction.
Try it yourself. Most word processing software will apply the Flesch-Kincaid scale to your work. You improve by using shorter words and cutting down the size of sentences. By the way, we highly recommend the many books of Rudolf Flesch