determined. The following pages begin with a brief overview of just some of the currently available tools, both quali-tative and quantitative, for measuring text complexity, continue with some important considerations for using text complexity with students, and conclude with a series of examples showing how text complexity measures, balanced with reader and task considerations, might be used with a number of different texts.Qualitative and Quantitative Measures of Text ComplexityThe qualitative and quantitative measures of text complexity described below are representative of the best tools presently available. However, each should be considered only provisional; more precise, more accurate, and easier-to-use tools are urgently needed to help make text complexity a vital, everyday part of classroom instruction and curriculum planning.Qualitative Measures of Text ComplexityUsing qualitative measures of text complexity involves making an informed decision about the difficulty of a text in terms of one or more factors discernible to a human reader applying trained judgment to the task. In the Standards, qualitative measures, along with professional judgment in matching a text to reader and task, serve as a necessary complement and sometimes as a corrective to quantitative measures, which, as discussed below, cannot (at least at present) capture all of the elements that make a text easy or challenging to read and are not equally successful in rat-ing the complexity of all categories of text.Built on prior research, the four qualitative factors described below are offered here as a first step in the development of robust tools for the qualitative analysis of text complexity. These factors are presented as continua of difficulty rather than as a succession of discrete “stages” in text complexity. Additional development and validation would be needed to translate these or other dimensions into, for example, grade-level- or grade-band-specific rubrics. The qualitative factors run from easy (left-hand side) to difficult (right-hand side). Few, if any, authentic texts will be low or high on all of these measures, and some elements of the dimensions are better suited to literary or to informational texts.(1)Levels of Meaning (literary texts) or Purpose (informational texts).Literary texts with a single level of meaning tend to be easier to read than literary texts with multiple levels of meaning (such as satires, in which the author’s literal mes-sage is intentionally at odds with his or her underlying message). Similarily, informational texts with an explicitly stated purpose are generally easier to comprehend than informational texts with an implicit, hidden, or obscure purpose.(2) Structure.Texts of low complexity tend to have simple, well-marked, and conventional structures, whereas texts of high complexity tend to have complex, implicit, and (particularly in literary texts) unconventional structures. Simple
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- Fall '12
- Qualitative Research, Educational years, Technical Subjects, Text Complexity