Member Login
Order Now Free Trial
Common Core State Standards

Common Core Standards

Learn, plan, and implement Common Core in your classroom. Use the Resource Correlations tool to find Common Core-aligned resources from Reading A-Z, the ELL Edition, Writing A-Z, or Science A-Z or view all correlated resources at once. We have also provided information on key CCSS topics, why they are important, and how Reading A-Z can be used to implement elements of CCSS.

Resource Correlations

Text Complexity

What Is Text Complexity?

Text complexity is what the term implies: how challenging is the material for the child at their specific grade level. The Common Core State Standards use three factors to determine the complexity of a text:
  • Qualitative Measures
  • Quantitative Measures
  • Considerations relating to the reader and task

Watch the Common Core State Standards Text Complexity video

Qualitative measures examine text attributes that can only be evaluated by the person that is reading the book or passage. The reader is required to consider such factors as:

    Levels of meaning: Is the purpose explicitly stated or is it vague? Does it have a single level of meaning vs. multiple purposes?

    Clarity and conventions of language: Is the language clear or is it vague and purposefully misleading? Is the language contemporary and familiar or is it unfamiliar and archaic? Is the text conversational or academic? Is there wide use of figurative language, idiomatic expressions, etc.? Is the text cohesive or does it lack cohesion?

    Knowledge demands: Is it a single-themed text and relatively simple as opposed to multiple-themed and complex? Does the text deal with common everyday experiences or does it present experiences that are likely vastly different from those of the reader? Is the text presented from single or multiple perspectives? Are there frequent changes in the setting? How many, if any, references to other texts does the text contain?

    Structure: How is the text organized - chronologically or in another logical fashion? Is it randomly arranged with complex and loosely connected content? Does the structure and organization make sense? Are sections and features clearly labeled? Is the text free from unnecessary distractions?

    Visual device complexity: Are graphical devices relatively simple or are they complex? Are the graphics more "for show" rather than necessary to help the student understand the material being presented?

Quantitative measures are what publishers traditionally relied upon to determine the difficulty of a text. There are dozens of formulas used to figure text difficulty. Many of these formulas consider only two factors: sentence length and the number of difficult or unfamiliar words or they look at sentence length and syllable count. Needless to say, these factors are fairly limiting when it comes to determining the complexity of a text.

Considerations relating to the reader and tasks is the vital third component. Each reader brings different skills, background, and motivation to the act of reading. For example, a student who is interested in the topic being read is likely to bring more background knowledge to the reading task and want to learn more.

The importance of the assignment itself can also influence the reading activity. Skimming a book or article for a key piece of information or reading leisurely places less demand on the reading task than if a student is preparing for an exam, assembling a piece of equipment, or reading for long-term retention.

Become your school's Common Core expert. Attend our free webinars every month in 2013. We'll focus on one key Common Core topic each month.
You will need to create a free Go To Meeting account to see the webinar videos.


Why Is Text Complexity An Issue?

Over the past 50 years the text that students have encountered in middle and high school had decreased in complexity, while textbooks in colleges, universities, and the workplace have become more complex. As a result too many students graduating from high school lack sufficient skills required to comprehend the text they encounter in college and the workplace. The authors of the Common Core State ELA Standards have taken steps to ensure that greater attention is paid to gradually increasing the complexity of the text students read and comprehend as they move through school.

How Does Reading A-Z Address Text Complexity?

Reading A-Z offers books designed and written to 29 levels of difficulty. Great care has been taken to analyze each and every book using multiple quantitative and qualitative factors. Teachers can present these materials with confidence, knowing that each leveled book meets the required Common Core standards.