TEXT COMPLEXITY. Text Complexity. Robust and Relevant 21 st Century Demands. Why Text Complexity Matters.
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In many respects, text complexity is the hallmark of the CCSS as it reveals the depth of educators’ commitment to providing American students every opportunity to be prepared to meet future global challenges.
The combination of the increased text complexity and the depth of cognitive demand within the task, such as incorporating discipline-specific questions, generates higher levels of rigor.
Providing a specific Standard 10 presence in each grade level, the Common Core’s text complexity standard provides a backward-mapped format to scaffold instruction. Notice the scaffoldedexpectations in the Staircase for Text Complexity within the standard on the next slide.
R.CCR.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
Example Grade-level Standard (6th grade):
RI.6.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 6-8 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
What do the Common Core State Standards mean by text complexity?
Informational text and literary
non-fiction for both elementary
and secondary grades includes:
Biographies and auto-biographies
Quantitative measures – readability and other scores of text complexity often best measured by computer software.
Qualitative measures – levels of meaning, structure, language conventionality and clarity, and knowledge demands often best measured by an attentive human reader.
Reader and Task
Reader and Task considerations – background knowledge of reader, motivation, interests, and complexity generated by tasks assigned often best made by educators employing their professional judgment.
Use the Georgia
Choose an excerpt of text from Appendix B:
A Four-step Process:
Determine the quantitative measures of the text.
Analyze the qualitative measures of the text.
Reflect upon the reader and task considerations.
Recommend placement in the appropriate text complexity band.
The following chart outlines the suggested ranges for each of the text complexity bands using -Rigor Expectations of the CCGPS: Lexile Alignment to College & CareerReadiness to Close the Gap:
Source: Susan Pimentel, November 3, 2010
Let’s imagine we want to see where a text falls on the quantitative measures “leg” of the text complexity triangle, using the Lexile text measures. (Video)
For illustrative purposes, let’s choose Harper Lee’s 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird.
Lexile Text Measure:
ATOS Book Level (a measure used in the state of Kansas):
In which of the text complexity
bands would this novel fall?
Text Complexity Grade Bands—Taken from Kansas Common Core State Standards
* The K-1 suggested Lexile range was not identified by the Common Core State Standards and was added by Kansas.
** Taken from Accelerated Reader and the Common Core State Standards, available at the following URL:
Remember, however, that the quantitative measure is only the first of three “legs” of the text complexity triangle.
Our final recommendation may be validated, influenced, or even over-ruled by our examination of qualitative measures and the reader and task considerations.
Reader and Task
*Holes, by Louis Sachar
QuantitativeMeasurement: 660 L
Structure: Story continuously jumps back and forth between three
different time periods/settings, and character groups.
Adjusted text-complexity value: 5.9 – 7.5 for independent reading.
Levels of Meaning or Purpose:Texts that contain multiple levels of meaning or purpose (connotative or implicit language, satire in narrative texts; informational texts with implicit purposes) have a greater text complexity than texts with a singular meaning or purpose.
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Quantitative Measurement : 610 L
Qualitative Measurement: Hemingway uses images and word choice to convey emotion rather than describing it; words are sparse but and have multiple connotative meanings; the novel as a the story contains multiple themes.
Adjusted text-complexity value: 11.5+
Similar “stretch-texts”: The poems of Emily Dickinson (11.5+) and Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (12+) also use sparse, precise word choice with multiple connotations.
Language Conventionality & 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 or on general academic and domain-specific vocabulary.
The actual reading level is not difficult, but due to unfamiliar language patterns and old-fashioned language, the reading becomes more difficult.
Knowledge Demands:“Texts that make that make few assumptions about the extent of readers’ life experiences and the depths 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.”
*A Raisin in theSun, byLorraineHansberry
Quantitative Measurement: 6.8 (Fry Readability value). (NP)
Knowledge Demands: To fully understand and appreciate the play, students require a knowledge of the following: assimilationist debate
Pan-African Movement, the Great Migration, racial tension of
the time period, race/real estate issues
Adjusted text-complexity value: 9-11
the gap” tothenextreadinglevel, teachersmightalsowant
students to read Black Boy by Richard Wright (10-11) or
Black Like Me by John Griffin (10-11)
teacher-directed reading of the text.
Four Corner Jigsaw Activity:
Levels of Meaning
Reader and Task
Four Corner Jigsaw Activity: Directions
Step 1: Move to your assigned color station.
Step 2: Discuss and become experts about your assigned qualitative dimension.
Step 3- Return to your original table, use the qualitative dimensions flip-book graphic organizer to write down key points that you learn from colleagues about their expert areas of study.
The Georgia Text Complexity Rubric allows educators to evaluate the important elements of text that are often missed by computer software that tends to focus on more easily measured factors.
Lexile Text Measure:
ATOS Book Level:
But after reflecting upon the qualitative measures, we believed:
YOU are the best judge of what your students can manage.
are best evaluated by teachers employing their professional judgment, experience, and knowledge of their students and the subject.
Based upon our examination of the Reader and Task Considerations, we have completed the third leg of the text complexity model and are now ready to recommend a final placement within a text complexity band.
Based upon all the information—all three legs of the model—the final recommendation for To Kill a Mockingbird is….
confirms our evaluation of the novel. To Kill a Mockingbird is placed within the grade 9-10 text complexity band.
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