qualitative-dimensions.doc

qualitative-dimensions.doc - The Standards Approach to Text...

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The Standards’ Approach to Text Complexity The standards define a three-part model for determining how easy or difficult a particular text is to read as well as grade-by-grade specifications for increasing text complexity in successive years of schooling (Reading standard 10). These are to be used together with grade-specific standards that require increasing sophistication in students’ reading comprehension ability (Reading standards 1–9). The Standards thus approach the intertwined issues of what and how student read. A Three-Part Model for Measuring Text Complexity As signaled by the graphic below right, the Standards’ model of text complexity consists of three equally important parts. (1) Qualitative dimensions of text complexity. In the Standards, qualitative dimensions and qualitative factors refer to those aspects of text complexity best measured or only measurable by an attentive human reader, such as levels of meaning or purpose; structure; language conventionality and clarity; and knowledge demands. (2) Quantitative dimensions of text complexity. The terms quantitative dimensions and quantitative factors refer to those aspects of text complexity, such as word length or frequency, sentence length, and text cohesion, that are difficult if not impossible for a human reader to evaluate efficiently, especially in long texts, and are thus today typically measured by computer software. (3) Reader and task considerations. While the prior two elements of the model focus on the inherent complexity of text, variables specific to particular readers (such as motivation, knowledge, and experiences) and to particular tasks (such as purpose and the complexity of the task assigned and the questions posed) must also be considered when determining whether a text is appropriate for a given student. Such assessments are best made by teachers employing their professional judgment, experience, and knowledge of their students and the subject. The Standards presume that all three elements will come into play when text complexity and appropriateness are determined. The following pages begin with a brief overview of just some of the currently available tools, both qualitative and quantitative, for measuring text complexity,
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