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Renaissance Charter School gives the gift of text complexity

by Najia Polad

As we approach the holiday season, let’s take a moment to reflect upon the work that we do every day to advance outcomes for students. As educators, we work tirelessly to give our students the gift of rigorous instruction, grounded in complex text and high-quality tasks, that ultimately leads to college and career readiness. 

Been hearing a lot about text complexity lately? It’s not only about putting grade-appropriate text in front of students: it also calls for asking text-dependent questions and creating high-quality tasks that enable students to demonstrate their understanding of the text.

The Renaissance Charter School in Queens, NY is doing great work around complex text, which the leadership team chose as their instructional focus for the year. Teachers make very intentional decisions about the texts they put in front of their students.

When you walk into different classrooms throughout the school, you see first-grade students charting their stamina for reading, fifth-grade students reading and crafting their own memoirs, and sixth-grade students diving into texts and sharing deep discussions with their classmates. This work doesn’t happen without purposeful planning and a commitment to outcomes for students.

A focus on text complexity is also about equity. All students deserve access to high-quality, grade-appropriate text. Research shows, year after year, that students are not graduating high school adequately prepared for the sophisticated levels of text required in college and career settings. As a result, some students struggle and end up dropping out.

As we approach winter break, let’s re-ground ourselves in the purpose of the work that we do: to ensure success for ALL of our students. Think about those students who are struggling with complex, grade-appropriate text and how we can all support them in becoming more confident readers. After all, we do the work we do for the students that we serve.

Have a well-deserved and relaxing winter break!

Najia is a former ANet coach in New York.


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