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ANet is a nonprofit dedicated to the premise that every child in America deserves an excellent education and the opportunities it provides. We pursue our vision of educational equality in America by helping schools boost student learning with great teaching that is grounded in standards, informed by data, and built on the successful practices of educators around the country.

Measuring text complexity to inform planning

If we want our students to be prepared for the reading, writing, and thinking they will do in the future, texts should be an essential component of what we think about when we sit down to create a lesson plan.

For a long time, literacy instruction has been focused on skills and strategies. In some cases, the quality of texts has been a secondary consideration. But if we want our students to be prepared for the reading, writing, and thinking they will do in the future, texts should be an essential component of what we think about when we sit down to create a lesson plan.

Schools can make the shift towards planning with texts in mind by starting with text complexity—that is, understanding what will be easy or challenging about a text. When teachers can identify the trickiest parts of a text, they're better equipped to support students in navigating the text. 

Watch Erin Oliver, Elementary Academy Director at Success Preparatory in New Orleans, discuss how understanding text complexity helps teachers make smart decisions about where to spend their time and energy in a lesson.  

 

We created this guide to help educators measure the complexity of a text that will be used as part of upcoming instruction. (Take it one step further by learning how to apply your understanding of text complexity to create scaffolded, sequenced questions.) 

If this approach is new to you or your team, it may be helpful to see an example of an analysis of a text about track and field sprinter Wilma Rudolph or watch the screencast to learn more about text complexity,  which include hands-on activities and discussion prompts.