Text Complexity

From our beginning in 2000, TextProject has supported teachers with research and practical advice about how to provide readers the right kinds of texts, with special focus on text complexity. Now, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) represents the first time that a standards document has paid special attention to text complexity, as Standard 10 is devoted specifically to increasing students’ capacity with complex text from grades 2 through 12. To support reading skills needed for college and career success as of high school graduation, the CCSS proposes a staircase of text complexity.

To help teachers, whether veterans or candidates for certification, acquire the knowledge and skills needed to make the most of the new CCSS standards, TextProject introduces our first-ever product line aimed at teacher education and professional development environments. The TextProject Teacher Development Series on Text Complexity and the Common Core State Standards is a series of five modular lessons, each with guidance for teacher leaders, teacher educators or staff development leaders as well as activities for teachers.

Each module’s theme is developed through three categories of activities:

Read and Learn

Foundational readings and purpose-setting questions to provide essential knowledge and guide further exploration

Reflect and Respond

Activities that facilitate an in-depth understanding of the core material, by answering purpose-setting questions and working with colleagues to discover nuances in the concepts presented in the foundational readings

Analyze and Apply

Hands-on activities that enable teachers to work directly with texts, including exemplars proposed in the CCSS, to analyze aspects of text complexity and gain confidence examining other texts for text complexity

Developed by veteran teacher educators Dana L. Grisham and Thomas DeVere Wolsey in conjunction with TextProject’s Elfrieda H. Hiebert, the TextProject Teacher Development Series in Text Complexity and the Common Core State Standards includes modules for teacher educators and teacher candidates, plus foundational and supplemental readings, all available for free download from the TextProject website.

Note: The instructor edition for each module features margin notes of special interest to instructors (with additional content or activity notes), but is otherwise identical to the participant edition.

Module 1: What is Text Complexity?

Module 1 Complete (ZIP file, 4MB)

Module Components:

Module 2: What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Quantitative Measures of Text Complexity?

Module 2 Complete (ZIP file, 2.5MB)

Module Components:

Module 3: What Features Influence Text Complexity for Beginning and Struggling Readers?

Module 3 Complete (ZIP file, 15.8MB)

Module Components:

Module 4: Analyzing the Words in Informational and Narrative Texts

Module 4 Complete (ZIP file, 3.7MB)

Module Components:

Module 5: What Alternatives Are There to Quantitative Measures of Text Complexity?

Module 5 Complete (ZIP file, 3.9MB)

Module Components