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Feb 06, 2018
Analyzing Text Complexity to Plan for Instruction
Protocol adapted from
CCSSO Navigating Text Complexity: Take It for a Spin
1. Closely read and annotate the text.
2. Obtain a quantitative measure using theupdated text complexity grade bands and associated reading ranges for Common Core.
3. Analyze the qualitative features of the text with the support of theQualitative Rubric for Literary and Informational Texts.Be sure to look back at your annotations to the text to help.
4. Using your professional judgment, evaluate theReader and Task Considerationsfor this text. Note particular challenges the text may pose, and offer ideas for supporting all students in accessing the text. Reference the CCSSO Guiding Questions for Reader and Task Considerations.
Please also use the following for reference:
1. CCSSO Guidelines for Text Complexity Analysis and
2. The Standards Grade-Specific Text Complexity Demands from Appendix A of the ELA & Literacy CCSS.
Guidelines for Text Complexity Analysis
When planning instruction for the Common Core State Standards, it is important to select texts that provide students with the opportunities to meet the complexity expectations of the Common Core State Standards outlined in each grade by Reading Standard 10.
Text Complexity Analysis Process:
1. First, determine the quantitative measure to place a text in a grade-level band.
Quantitative tools measure dimensions of text complexity such as word frequency, sentence length, and text cohesion that can be analyzed by a computer and are difficult for a human reader to evaluate. Use one of the quantitative tools in the Short Guide to Quantitative Tools to obtain a quantitative measure for the text. These tools produce a score that correlates to a grade band:
2. Then, using your professional judgment, perform a qualitative analysis of text complexity to situate a text within a specific grade band.
Qualitative tools measure such features of text complexity as text structure, language clarity and conventions, knowledge demands, and levels of meaning and purpose that cannot be measured by computers and must be evaluated by educators.
(1) Structure. Texts of low complexity tend to have simple, well-marked, and conventional structures, whereas texts of high complexity tend to have complex, implicit, and (in literary texts) unconventional structures. Simple literary texts tend to relate events in chronological order, while complex literary texts make more frequent use of flashbacks, flash-forwards, multiple points of view and other manipulations of time and sequence. Simple informational texts are likely not to deviate from the conventions of common genres and subgenres, while complex informational texts might if they are conforming to the norms and conventions of a specific discipline or if they contain a variety of structures (as an academic textbook or history book might). Graphics tend to be simple and either unnecessary or merely supplementary to the meaning of texts of low complexity, whereas texts of high complexity tend to have similarly complex graphics that provide an independent source of information and are essential to understanding a text. (Note that many books for the youngest students rely heavily on graphics to convey meaning and are an exception to the above generalization.)
(2) Language Conventionality and Clarity. Texts that rely on literal, clear, contemporary, and conversational language tend to be easier to read than texts that rely on figurative, ironic, ambiguous, purposefully misleading, archaic, or otherwise unfamiliar language (such as general academic and domain-specific vocabulary).
(3) Knowledge Demands. Texts that make few assumptions about the extent of readers life experiences and the depth of their cultural/literary and content/discipline knowledge are generally less complex than are texts that make many assumptions in one or more of those areas.
(4) Levels of Meaning (literary texts) or Purpose (informational texts). Literary texts with a single level of meaning tend to be easier to read than literary texts with multiple levels of meaning (such as satires, in which the authors literal message is intentionally at odds with his or her underlying message). Similarly, informational texts with an explicitly stated purpose are generally easier to comprehend than informational texts with an implicit, hidden, or obscure purpose.
3. Lastly, educators should evaluate the text in light of the students they plan to teach and the task they will assign.
Consider possible struggles students might face, as well as brainstorm potential scaffolding to support students in unpacking the most complex features of the text. Reader and Task Considerations enable the educator to bring the text into a realistic settingtheir classroom. You can use the Questions for Reader and Task Considerations to aid this process.
NOTE: In most cases, the qualitative analysis of the text will align with the quantitative measures assigned to a text. However, there are some exceptions. Narrative fiction in grades 6-12 is not always reliably quantifiable. For example, while To Kill a Mockingbird has a Lexile that places it in the 4-5 grade band, the complexity of the layers of meaning in this text can push it up to the 9-10 grade band for instruction. Similarly, poetry and drama are often not reliably quantifiable. Sometimes preference should be given to the qualitative measures for these texts. This type of exception, however, should rarely be exercised with other kinds of texts as it is critical that students have adequate practice with texts that fall within the quantitative band for their grade level.
Some texts for kindergarten and grade one contain features to aid early readers in learning to read that are difficult to assess using the quantitative tools alone. Educators must employ their professional judgment in the consideration of these texts for early readers.
Guiding Questions for Reader and Task Considerations
Before analyzing the text:
1. Does engagement with this text make sense given my current instructional aims?
2. Is the content of this text appropriate for the age of my students?
If you answer no to either of these questions, consider selecting a different text.
After analyzing the text, use information gained from the quantitative and qualitative analysis to plan for instruction. Consider the following:
(Use the answer to this question to identify which grade-level CCSS will be the focus of instruction of the text and the content of questions about the text.) (What learning do you want students to demonstrate after reading this text (e.g., key student understandings of the text, academic vocabulary, fluency, etc.)?)
(Use the answer to this question to guide the design of your instructional supports so that all students (even those who struggle with reading) are able to access the text independently and proficiently through multiple readings of the text.) (Based on a clear understanding of each students reading ability, what aspects of the text will likely pose the most challenge for your students?)
(How is this text best presented to students (through read aloud, read along, or read alone) and how can this text be used with other texts?) (Use the answers to determine how this text fits within a larger unit of instruction (e.g., Can the text serve as an anchor text connected to other shorter texts? Does the text require background knowledge that can be learned by reading other texts?))
Text Complexity: Qualitative Measures Rubric
Text Title___________________________________________ Text Author_____________________________________
Exceedingly Complex Very Complex Moderately Complex Slightly Complex
o Organization: Connections between an extensive range of ideas, processes or events are deep, intricate and often ambiguous; organization is intricate or discipline-specific
o Text Features: If used, are essential in understanding content
o Use of Graphics: If used, intricate, extensive graphics, tables, charts, etc., are extensive are integral to making meaning of the text; may provide information not otherwise conveyed in the text
o Organization: Connections between an expanded range ideas, processes or events are often implicit or subtle; organization may contain multiple pathways or exhibit some discipline-specific traits
o Text Features: If used, directly enhance the readers understanding of content
o Use of Graphics: If used, graphics, tables, charts, etc. support or are integral to understanding the text
o Organization: Connections between some ideas or events are implicit or subtle; organization is evident and generally sequential or chronological
o Text Features: If used, enhance the readers understanding of content
o Use of Graphics: If used, graphic, pictures, tables, and charts, etc. are mostly supplementary to understanding the text
o Organization: Connections between ideas, processes or events are explicit and clear; organization of text is chronological, sequential or easy to predict
o Text Features: If used, help the reader navigate and understand content but are not essential to understanding content.
o Use of Graphics: If used, graphic, pictures, tables, and charts, etc. are simple and unnecessary to understanding the text but they may support and assist readers in understanding the written text
o Conventionality: Dense and complex; contains considerable abstract, ironic, and/or figurative l