Over the past several months, I have been facilitating workshops in school districts in New Jersey to teachers in grades 3-12 on reading comprehension strategies and developing text dependent questions around complex text. Many teachers will ask, “What makes complex text complex?” “Great question,” I tell them.
When the Common Core rolled out the standards, the Text Complexity Triangle was provided as visual resource supported by definitions of the three legs of complex text for teachers. The three legs identify the complexity of text quantitatively, qualitatively, as well as by reader and tasks.
From consistent dialogue with teachers, they certainly understand the importance of wanting their students to fall deeply in love with reading and stretch themselves in reading rich and thought-provoking texts that will keep kids coming back for more…just like falling in love with someone or something special.
One of the three ways to evaluate text complexity is through a quantitative measure. This means measuring the text based on sentence length and word length/frequency and text cohesion. By using the free software, Lexile Analyzer, teachers can conduct an easy five step process in identifying and measuring texts quantitatively on the two variables.
However, teachers are facing challenges insofar as certain texts which are evaluated on the same Lexile level are markedly different. How is it possible that Charlotte’s Web and Grapes of Wrath are on the same quantitative Lexile level of 680? Well, I believe the authors of the Common Core recognize this is not an error. It’s only one leg of the text evaluation. And like a three-legged stool, all three legs need to hold up the stool so it’s steady and secure.
Another way for teachers to ensure that the Lexile level is an accurate evaluation of the text, is to watch this video from Achieve the Core. This YouTube video will answer teachers’ questions and wonderments about text complexity.
Join us for the next installment of Understanding Text Complexity where we will discuss evaluation of the other two categories of the Text Complexity Triangle. Until next time, happy learning and teaching!