meet the demands placed upon them by citizenship in a democratic republic and the challenges of a highly competi- tive global marketplace of goods, services, and ideas. It should be noted also that the problems with reading achievement are not “equal opportunity” in their effects: students arriving at school from less-educated families are disproportionately represented in many of these statis- tics (Bettinger & Long, 2009). The consequences of insufficiently high text demands and a lack of accountability for independent reading of complex texts in K–12 schooling are severe for everyone, but they are disproportionately so for those who are already most isolated from text before arriving at the schoolhouse door. The Standards’ Approach to Text Complexity To help redress the situation described above, 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 suc- cessive 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 at right, the Standards’ model of text complexity consists of three equally important parts. (1) Qualitative dimensions of text complexity. In the Stan- dards, 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 fre- quency, 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 mea- sured 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 motiva- tion, 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 stu- dent. Such assessments are best made by teachers employing their professional judgment, experience, and knowl- edge of their students and the subject. Figure 1: The Standards’ Model of Text Complexity
COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS for ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS & LITERACY IN HISTORY/SOCIAL STUDIES, SCIENCE, AND TECHNICAL SUBJECTS APPENDIX A | 5 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 quali-
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- Qualitative Research, Educational years, Technical Subjects, Text Complexity