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ERIC Number: EJ918246
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Mar-16
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0277-4232
Teachers Seek Ways to Gauge Rigor of Texts
Gewertz, Catherine
Education Week, v30 n24 p1, 12-13 Mar 2011
In the first year of a pilot program, 18 New York City schools are digging into new ways to accomplish two objectives emphasized in the common-core standards: (1) engage students in increasingly complex texts as they move through school; and (2) help them conquer literacy skills specific to disciplines such as history and science. Spearheaded by the nation's governors and schools chiefs, the standards have been adopted in most states, including New York. Research suggests that a trend toward less challenging texts in high school, and a tilt toward narrative texts, at the expense of informational and expository ones, have left young people particularly weak at comprehending and dissecting information from difficult texts and using it to build evidence-based arguments. A 2006 study by ACT Inc., for instance, found that the biggest stumbling block for students who fell short of the readiness scores in reading on its college-entrance exam was answering questions derived from complex texts. Helping adolescents become strong readers means that teachers need new ways to help them gain entree to higher-order knowledge in the disciplines and ascend what the common standards refer to as a "staircase" of increasingly complex texts. Teachers in New York and elsewhere are beginning to craft or search for ways to gauge a text's complexity more fully than is permitted by traditional readability formulas, which are typically based on the length of words and sentences and the familiarity of words. Advances in cognitive science, linguistics, and computer technology are opening new doors on the text-complexity front. One newer model, called Coh-Metrix, analyzes text using 60 factors, including syntax, "narrativity," word abstraction, and "cohesion," or how well the text makes connections for the reader, facilitating understanding. By taking into consideration the background knowledge a reader must bring to understand a text, the common standards' three-part approach to text-complexity makes it all the more important for teachers to build students' content knowledge in all subjects.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York