TextProject Topics

Since 2011, TextProject has operated as a nonprofit aimed at supporting teachers, teacher educators, and researchers with open-access resources that demonstrate solutions for improving literacy levels.

We have resources aimed at three groups: teachers, professional development leaders, and researchers. You can visit the menus for the resources aimed at each of these groups.

But many of the resources are not limited to a single user group. For teacher education and professional development contexts, organizing content around topics is also useful. An interest in a topic such as text complexity is not limited to a single user group. For that reason, TextProject’s resources have also been organized around topics. This guide to Topics provides a way for users to get an overview of the rich resources at TextProject.

These resources provide a way for users to get an overview of the rich resources at TextProject.

Common Core State Standards

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The Common Core State Standards represent a collaboration by American states to set the same goals for student learning. Within the standards, explicit text levels are given across the grades to ensure that high school graduates are college and career ready. Beginning with the grade 2-3 band, target text levels have increased from previous recommendations. The Standards provide little guidance, however, on how to support the many students who struggle with current grade-level texts. TextProject has responded rapidly to this need with research-based resources that will guide and inform educators, parents, and community leaders.


Assessment is all about knowing what learners know. In the formative assessment process, teachers and students gather information as part of the teaching-learning cycle. Summative assessments focus on the outcomes of the teaching-learning process—information that is frequently used in high-stakes contexts by policy makers. Currently, many American states are moving to a new generation of summative assessments. TextProject is committed to providing educators with the best possible guidance and resources about the new-generation assessments.

Beginning Reading

How children are initiated into reading influences their success and also their engagement over their lifetime. Reading opportunities that recognize young children’s developmental capacities, their interests, and their ways of learning all contribute to creating engaged, proficient, lifelong readers.

A text—whether it is on a sign or in a book—is central to reading. The texts in school can be thought of as a diet for beginning and struggling readers. To get a good start in reading (or restart, in the case of struggling readers), texts need to give students core and critical information about written language. TextProject is the premiere site for information on appropriate texts for beginning and struggling readers.

Comprehension & Close Reading

Learning from text and remembering or integrating the knowledge from text is at the heart of our work as literacy educators. Proficient reading requires integrating new knowledge from texts with existing knowledge. The Common Core State Standards place the content of text as the source for new ideas or challenging existing ones at the heart of the comprehension. TextProject resources support teachers in understanding evidence-based reading (sometimes referred to as close reading). Resources also include texts that teachers can use with their students as the basis for discussions and close reading.

Core Vocabulary

Success in the digital age depends on comprehending complex text. Within any complex text, the majority of words come from a very small group of words in written English.  On average, 90% of the words in a text are drawn from 4,000 simple word families (e.g., help, helping, helps, helped, helper but not helpless or helpful). The other 10% of the words in texts come from the remaining 300,000 (or more) words in the English language. When readers aren’t adept with the core vocabulary (i.e., the 4,000 simple word families), they have few resources to deal with the new and unique vocabulary of texts.

English Learners & Literacy

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Learning to read and write in English, while simultaneously becoming facile with spoken English, is a challenge for the many English Learners in American schools. Fourth graders who are native Spanish speakers perform 25 points lower than their native English-speaking peers on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. To close this gap requires intentional and appropriate instruction for English Learners. Developing a rich vocabulary is especially critical for all students, as indicated by the close relationship between vocabulary and comprehension. For English Learners, intentional instruction and experiences with vocabulary are especially critical. TextProject has numerous resources to support educators in ensuring that English Learners get the solid foundation that they need to become highly literate.

Knowledge & Informational Texts

Texts are where humans share and store what they have learned. The reason for reading—regardless of whether texts are narrative or informational—is to acquire the knowledge that resides in texts. To truly become proficient readers of complex texts, students need to be immersed in informational texts.

Morphological Awareness

Vocabulary is the term for the words of a language and morphology is the term for the study of the parts of words. Students’ vocabularies expand through the study of word parts, specifically root or base words (e.g., connect), affixes (e.g., reconnect, connection), inflectional morphemes (e.g., connects, connecting, connected).

The study of word parts increases awareness of the links between words, including the origins of words in other languages. Cognate means to have “the same ancestry.” Many English words are close cognates to German words (e.g., apple/Apfel). Other English words are easily traced to French words (e.g., communicate/communiquer). French and Spanish both originated from Latin which means that cognates also exist between English and Spanish words (e.g., communicate/comunicar). TextProject provides valuable resources for teachers to support students in developing morphological awareness and knowledge.

Reading Automaticity & Fluency

The biggest obstacle to proficient reading for many U.S. fourth graders is their lack of automaticity or speed in understanding words. Even the students in the lowest percentiles can recognize most words…eventually. The problem lies in the length of time that it takes them to recognize even common words. Struggling readers devote their energies to recognizing words, thus not attending to the content of what they are reading. TextProject was started to address this problem. Over the past decade, we have developed a set of solutions that revolve around a simple principle in written language called the 90-10 rule. Approximately 9,000 words (4,000 root words and their simple endings) account for 90% of the total words in most texts.

Reading Volume

Getting good at cognitive-motor processes such as playing the piano, golfing, doing surgery, and reading is a function of practice. Proficient reading is built on numerous reading experiences. For many students, reading opportunities occur first in classrooms. If these students do not acquire strong reading habits in classrooms, it is doubtful that they will be eager to read extensively outside of school. Even a little more reading time can go a long way. In fact, as little as an additional 7 minutes of reading per day has been shown to differentiate classrooms in which students read well from those in which students read less well.

Silent Reading & Reading Stamina

By the end of the primary grades, students who are not proficient silent readers begin falling further and further behind in school and, eventually, the workplace. The reason why is that texts are the source of much new information. If students aren’t adept at silent reading, they simply won’t keep up. But for many students, good silent reading habits do not “just happen.” In particular, silent reading habits do not smoothly transfer from frequent oral reading events. Silent reading involves self-monitoring and also the stamina to keep reading and thinking, even when content is challenging. For many 21st century students, the skills of silent reading depend on instructional experiences in classrooms.

Summer Reading

Students who don’t read much over the summer show a decline in reading performance from the end of one grade to the start of the next. Often, it is low-income students who don’t have ready access to books at home. Typically, when low-income students are given books for summer reading, the texts can be too hard for students to read successfully on their own.

Text Complexity

Being able to read increasingly more complex texts has always been a driving goal of reading instruction. But often this goal has not been directly addressed in state standards and assessments. Things are different within the Common Core State Standards.


Of all the features of complex text, vocabulary is the one that best predicts students’ comprehension. It is also the feature of complex text that is the most straightforward to teach. TextProject has numerous resources to aid in teacher knowledge and in classroom implementation of a generative vocabulary program—one in which students come to understand how English vocabulary works.