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CORE MATTERS: Understanding and Utilizing TEXT COMPLEXITY

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1 CORE MATTERS: Understanding and Utilizing TEXT COMPLEXITY
Neal Webster Crystal Siniari Mark Cacciatore, Ph.D. Literacy Specialists Office of Literacy New Jersey Department of Education

2 CORE MATTERS: Understanding and Utilizing TEXT COMPLEXITY
REGISTRATION: 8:30-9:00 AM Session: 9: Polleverywhere (Mark) Video & CCSS Shifts: Overview (Crystal) Quantitative, Qualitative, Reader and Task (Neal) Modeling Session of Text Analysis: (Mark)  Lunch: 11:30-12:30 PM Session: 12:30-2:30 Debriefing Breakout Session: K-5 (Crystal), 6-8 (Neal), 9-12 (Mark) Interactive Session: (Participants analyze fiction and nonfiction texts)

3 What are the Features of Complex Text?
Complex text contains any and all combinations of these features in many combinations. The complexity level is determined by both quantitative and qualitative measures. The details of text complexity are well described in Appendix A of the Standards, one of the supplemental readings offered with this module. New tools have been developed since the Standards were developed to help determine qualitative text complexity. Those materials are available on Students who struggle with reading almost always have gaps in their vocabulary and their ability to deal with more complex sentence structures. This too is well documented in research. Too often, less proficient students are given texts at their level where they do not see these features, where the demands of vocabulary and sentence structure are lowered. Though this is done for the kindest of reasons, it has disastrous consequences. Day by day, differentiating by level of text during instructional time increases the achievement gap between high performers and those who struggle. Students cannot address gaps in their vocabulary and develop skill with unpacking complex syntax text when they are not given the opportunity to work with material that provides these opportunities. With that said, there is a place for providing students with text more appropriately matched to their individual reading abilities to build fluency and provide opportunity for increasing the volume of reading. But those texts cannot be the primary texts for instruction.

4 Why Text Complexity Matters?
The biggest predictor of student success in college is the ability to comprehend complex text (ACT, 2006) Only 51% of students are ready for college-level reading (ACT, 2006) According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (2003), 27% of adults read nonfiction at the “below basic” and “proficient level” (Kutner, Greenberg, Jin, Boyle, Hsu, & Dunleavy, 2007) 30% percentage of first-year, incoming college freshmen are required to take remedial courses in reading, writing, or math (ACT, 2006)

5 Why Text Complexity Matters?
( Performance on complex texts is the clearest differentiator in reading between students who are more likely to be ready for college and those who are less likely to be ready. Historically, many students are engaged in shallow reading, skimming text for answers, focusing only on details and failing to make inferences in order to integrate different parts of the text. Years of reading in this superficial way will cause a student’s reading ability to deteriorate. For many students the decline of text demands in the courses that they take has both an immediate and long term impact on student achievement.

6 Guiding Questions What do the Common Core State Standards mean by text complexity? How do we ensure the texts our students are reading are in the appropriate text complexity band? How can text complexity help me in my classroom teaching? How can knowledge of text complexity help raise student achievement?

7 Text Complexity and the CCSS
Included within the Standards is an enhanced focus on text complexity. Specifically, within reading Standard #10: R.CCR.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently. Example Grade-level Standard (6th grade): RI 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.

8 Overview of Text Complexity
Text complexity is defined by: Qualitative measures – levels of meaning, structure, language conventionality and clarity, and knowledge demands often best measured by an attentive human reader. Quantitative measures – readability and other scores of text complexity often best measured by computer software. 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.

9 Where do we find texts in the appropriate text complexity band?
We could… Choose an excerpt of text Use available resources to determine the text from Appendix B as a complexity of materials starting place: or… on their own. (Even choosing excerpts from Appendix B is less effective because it removes the reader and task considerations from the equation.)

10 Common Scale for Band Level Text Difficulty Ranges
Source: Supplemental Information for Appendix A of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy: New Research on Text Complexity:

11 Determining Text Complexity
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.

12 Step 1: Quantitative Measures
Measures such as: Word length Word frequency Word difficulty Sentence length Text length Text cohesion Remember, however, that the quantitative measures 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.

13 Step 1: Quantitative Measures
Name URL ATOS by Renaissance Learning Degrees of Reading Power® (DRP®) by Questar Assessment, Inc. Readability Test Tool Partnered with Flesch-Kincaid (public domain) The Lexile® Framework For Reading by MetaMetrics Easability Indicator by Coh-Metrix Htt p:// /cohmetrixgates/Home.aspx For a description of each of the tools of analysis, please refer to CCSSO (2012).

14 Step 1: Quantitative Measures
Additional Resources Lexile Measures and the CCSS Accelerated Reader and the CCSS Coh-Metrix Coh-Metrix calculates the coherence of texts on a wide range of measures. It replaces common readability formulas by applying the latest computational linguistics and linking this to the latest research in psycholinguistics.

15 Quantitative Questions and/or concerns about quantitative analysis?

16 Step 2: Qualitative Measures
Measures such as: Structure/Organization Language Demands and Conventions Prior knowledge demands Levels of Meaning/Purpose

17 Qualitative Features of Text Complexity
Structure (could be story structure and/or form of piece) Simple  Complex Explicit  Implicit Conventional Unconventional Events related in chronological order  Events related out of chronological order (chiefly literary texts) Traits of a common genre or subgenre  Traits specific to a particular discipline (chiefly informational texts) Simple graphics  sophisticated graphics

18 Qualitative Features of Text Complexity
Language Demands: Conventionality and Clarity Literal  Figurative or ironic Clear  Ambiguous or purposefully misleading Contemporary, familiar  Archaic or otherwise unfamiliar Conversational  General Academic and domain specific Light vocabulary load: few unfamiliar or academic words Many words unfamiliar and high academic vocabulary present Sentence structure straightforward Complex and varied sentence structures Though vocabulary can be measured by quantifiable means, it is still a feature for careful consideration when selecting texts Though sentence length is measured by quantifiable means, sentence complexity is still a feature for careful consideration when selecting texts

19 Qualitative Features of Text Complexity
Knowledge Demands: Life Experience (literary texts) Simple theme  Complex or sophisticated themes Single theme  Multiple themes Common everyday experiences or clearly fantastical situations  Experiences distinctly different from one’s own Single perspective  Multiple perspectives Perspective(s) like one’s own  Perspective(s) unlike or in opposition to one’s own

20 Qualitative Features of Text Complexity
Knowledge Demands: Cultural/Literary Knowledge (chiefly literary texts) Everyday knowledge and familiarity with genre conventions required  Cultural and literary knowledge useful Low intertextuality (few if any references/allusions to other texts)  High intertextuality (many references/allusions to other texts

21 Qualitative Features of Text Complexity
Levels of Meaning (chiefly literary texts) or purpose (chiefly informational texts) Single level of meaning Multiple levels of meaning Explicitly stated purpose  Implicit purpose, may be hidden or obscure

22 Step 2: Qualitative Measures
Qualitative Measure Rubrics for Literary and Informational Text See Materials Handouts for the Rubrics we will Use Today!

23 Qualitative Analysis Questions and/or concerns about quantitative analysis? Do I understand the components? Am I comfortable with the language of qualitative analysis? Do I need more clarification on a point(s)

24 Step 3: Reader and Task Considerations such as: Motivation
Knowledge and experience Purpose for reading Complexity of task assigned regarding text Complexity of questions asked regarding text

25 Ten Guiding Principles
Step 3: Reader and Task Ten Guiding Principles Make close reading and rereading of texts central to lessons. Provide scaffolding that does not preempt or replace text. Ask text dependent questions from a range of question types. Emphasize students supporting answers based upon evidence from the text. Provide extensive research and writing opportunities (claims and evidence).

26 Step 3: Reader and Task Offer regular opportunities for
students to share ideas, evidence and research. Offer systematic instruction in vocabulary. Ensure wide reading from complex text that varies in length. Provide explicit instruction in grammar and conventions. 10. Cultivate students’ independence. What Complex Text Demands of Readers, Mark Bauerlein A Willingness to Pause and Probe Students must be patient as they read complex texts and be willing to devote time to contemplation of the text The Capacity for Uninterrupted Thinking Time devoted to the text and thinking about the text exclusively - single-tasking rather than multi-tasking A Receptivity to Deep Thinking Contemplation of the meaning of the text and not a quick response voicing an opinion based on a shallow interpretation. (Mark Bauerlein is a professor of English at Emory University in Atlanta. His article in Educational Leadership “Too Dumb for Complex Texts? emphasizes that students that are so used to multi-tasking and hopping from link to link have difficulty tackling complex texts and college level reading. We need to use print copies to help students develop the habits of reading they will need to negotiate texts they will use in college.)

27 Shorter, Challenging Texts
The study of short texts is useful to enable students at a wide range of reading levels to participate in the close analysis of more demanding text.  Place a high priority on the close, sustained reading of complex text. Such reading emphasizes the particular over the general and strives to focus on what lies within the four corners of the text. Close reading often requires compact, short, self-contained texts that students can read and re-read deliberately and slowly to probe and ponder the meanings of individual words, the order in which sentences unfold, and the development of ideas over the course of the text.

28 Reader-Task Analysis Questions and/or concerns about reader-task analysis? What is my role as a teacher in the consideration of reader-task analysis? How can I best motivate my students to read complex text? What other strategies (in addition to close reading), have I used to scaffold students’ reading abilities? What other info/clarification would I like regarding reader-task analysis?

29 Reflection: Where do we go from here?
Reader-Task Quantitative Qualitative

30 Evaluation of PD

31 Contact Information Neal Webster Crystal Siniari Mark Cacciatore, Ph.D. Literacy Specialists Office of Literacy New Jersey Department of Education

32 References Student Achievement Partners: ACT (2006). Reading between the lines:

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