Tag Archives: EngageNY

EngageNY Publishes Evidence Guide for ELA 6-12

On October 10, 2012, EngageNY published tools to capture evidence of the six shifts in practice necessitated by the adoption of the New York State Common Core Learning Standards for ELA and Literacy. Please take a look at the evidence guide for grades 6-12 to get a clearer idea of the kinds of instructional practices that reflect implementation of the shifts. These guides were developed by Student Achievement Partners.

 

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Filed under Common Core Standards, Teacher Opportunities

Establishing a Staircase of Text Complexity

One of the six shifts the Common Core Standards is challenging us to make is implementing a staircase of text complexity:

In order to prepare students for the complexity of college and career ready texts, each grade level requires a “step” of growth on the “staircase.” Students read the central, grade appropriate text around which instruction is centered. Teachers are patient, create more time and space in the curriculum for this close and careful reading, and provide appropriate and necessary scaffolding and supports so that it is possible for students reading below grade level. EngageNY

In the Common Core Standards, Reading Standard 10 specifies the level of text complexity at which students need to demonstrate comprehension at each grade. To further define what is meant by text complexity, the writers of the standards present a three-part model in Appendix A:

text complexity

Text complexity is defined by:
  1. Quantitative measures – readability and other scores of text complexity often best measured by computer software.
  2. Qualitative measures – levels of meaning, structure, language conventionality and clarity, and knowledge demands often best measured by an attentive human reader.
  3. 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.

(Image © Copyright 2010. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers. All rights reserved.)

EngageNY has posted Text Complexity Tools for assisting teachers in determining the complexity of texts. These tools include a webinar and PowerPoint presentation developed by the Kansas and Louisiana State Departments of Education. According to these resources, determining text complexity is a four-step process:

  1. Determine the quantitative measures of the text.
  2. Analyze the qualitative measures of the text.
  3. Reflect upon the reader and task considerations.
  4. Recommend placement in the appropriate text complexity band.

Step 1 — Determine the quantitative measures of the text.

We can use the Lexile level of a text from the Scholastic Achievement Manager (SAM) or the Lexile Analyzer to place the text within a text complexity band.

Fig 3: Text Complexity Grade Bands and Associated Lexile Ranges (in Lexiles) – from page 8 of the Common Core State Standards, Appendix A

Text Complexity Grade Band in the Standards

Old Lexile Ranges

Lexile Ranges Aligned to CCR Expectations

K-1

N/A

N/A

2-3

450L-725L

450L-790L

4-5

645L-845L

770L-980L

6-8

860L-1010L

955L-1155L

9-10

960L-1115L

1080L-1305L

11-CCR

1070L-1220L

1215L-1355L

Step 2 — Analyze the qualitative measures of the text.

We can use the Qualitative Rubric for Literary Text (available from the Kansas Department of Education on EngageNY) to analyze the important elements of literary texts that are missed by readability software programs, such as levels of meaning, levels of purpose, structure, organization, language clarity and conventionality, and prior knowledge demands.

For drama and poetry, quantitative measures are less valid, so we must rely on qualitative measures to help us place texts.

We can use the Qualitative Rubric for Informational Text (available on EngageNY from the Kansas Department of Education) to evaluate similar elements of informational texts, such as levels of purpose, structure, language clarity and conventionality, and prior knowledge demands.

Step 3 — Reflect upon the reader and task considerations.

When we reflect on our students as prospective readers of texts, we should take into account the motivation of these readers, their knowledge and experiences, and the purposes for reading the texts we set for/with them. Additionally, it is important for us to consider how complex the tasks are that we will be assigning in conjunction with the texts and how complex the questions we will pose will be. The Suggested Considerations for Reader and Task document provides a set of questions to guide our reflections (available from the Louisiana Department of Education on EngageNY).

Step 4 — Recommend placement in the appropriate text complexity band.

The webinar and PowerPoint presentation (Text Complexity Tools) demonstrate the process for placing To Kill a Mockingbird in the grade 9-10 text complexity band. Appendix A illustrates the process for placing Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass at the high end of the grade 6-8 text complexity band (pp. 11-12), The Grapes of Wrath in the grade 9-10 text complexity band (pp. 13-14), and The Longitude Prize in the grade 9-10 text complexity band (pp. 15-16).

The goal of this process is to help us become more purposeful in our selection of texts so that we can help our students climb the staircase of complexity leading to college- and career-readiness. By selecting texts that increase progressively in complexity through the grade levels for our instructional focus, we will improve the likelihood that students will be able to successfully meet the text demands of college or their chosen careers by the time they graduate. So now that we have information about how to go about placing texts, how do we go about implementing this shift and Standard 10?

KSDE Common CoreThe Kansas State Department of Education is calling for the development of “complex text playlists” that would reflect the placement of texts using the three-part model of text complexity. Participants in the NCTE Connected Community have also been discussing the development of a database of quality classic and contemporary texts by grade level  and text complexity band to expand the limited list provided in Appendix B. Both this “playlist” and this database have yet to be fully developed and published, but if and when they are, they will be invaluable resources to teachers striving to provide students with this staircase of complexity. 

Cooperative Children's Book CenterIn the meantime, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has compiled a list of contemporary titles that address the text complexity expectations of the Common Core Standards for grades 6-8, 9-10, and 11-CCR with age range recommendations. This list includes works of fiction and nonfiction, poetry, and short stories, most of which have been published in the last six years.

Supporting Students in a Time of Core Standards: Grades 9-12

For more insights on working with complex texts, you may find this chapter authored by 2010 National Teacher of the Year Sarah Brown Wessling helpful in the NCTE publication Supporting Students in a Time of Core Standards: English Language Arts, Grades 9-12.

Additionally, the April 2012 issue of Adolescent Literacy in Perspective, published by the Ohio Resource Center, is dedicated to the topic of text complexity and offers more perspectives on selecting texts, scaffolding instruction for students reading below grade level, and working across content areas to provide students with access to complex texts. This issue also contains links to additional resources–including the Greece Central School District ELA webpage.


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