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At the Chalk Face: Common Core and Text Complexity: “It’s a madhouse! A madhouse!”

Valerie Strauss’s The Answer Sheet has a discussion of Common Core and text complexity that you must read:

Common Core: How are books judged?

Strauss ends with:

Appendix A of the English Language Arts Common Core State Standards has a long and complicated explanation of “text complexity,” which you can read here, that reviews research said to show that the complexity of today’s reading demands for adults have held steady or risen over the past half century at the same time that the material students have read has gotten easier.

Another document, titled “Supplemental Information for Appendix A of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy: New Research on Text Complexity,” provides more information about how texts should be selected for students of varying grades, and, it talks about a study that looked at  six computer programs for determining text complexity, and “validated” them as text measurement tools. They include ATOS by Renaissance Learning and The Lexile® Framework For Reading by MetaMetrics.

That document does also say that “texts” should be chosen for students by educators who “will employ professional judgment to match texts to particular tasks or classes of students.” But the emphasis on the “readability” formulas is clear, and disturbing.

I have but one response:

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P.L. Thomas

Paul Thomas, Professor of Education, taught high school English in rural South Carolina before moving to teacher education. Recent books include Parental Choice?:...