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Achieve the Core: Text Complexity Collection, Academic Word Finder, and Mini-Assessments

Achievethecore.org is a Student Achievement Partners website full of content designed to help educators understand and implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and other college and career ready (CCR) standards  
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation: 
Student Achievement Partners
Published: 
2015
Resource Type: 
Product
Product Type: 
Abstract: 

Achievethecore.org is a Student Achievement Partners website full of content designed to help educators understand and implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and other college and career ready (CCR) standards. Many of the resources are applicable to adult educators and seven resources in particular have been selected. All seven resources help adult educators address CCR standards’ Key Advance One (regular practice with complex text and its academic language), Key Advance 2 (reading, writing, and speaking are grounded in evidence from text), and Key Advance 3 (building knowledge).

  1. Text Complexity Collection: http://achievethecore.org/page/642/text-complexity-collection
  2. Academic Word Finder (AWF): http://achievethecore.org/academic-word-finder
  3. Annotated-Mini Assessments: http://achievethecore.org/dashboard/300/search/1/1/0/1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/12/page/1035/annotated-mini-assessments-list-pg
  4. Text Set Project: http://achievethecore.org/page/1112/text-set-project-building-knowledge-and-vocabulary
  5. Fluency Packet for the 9-10 Grade Band: http://achievethecore.org/page/1022/fluency-packet-for-the-9-10-grade-band
Benefits and Uses: 

Achieve the Core has a wealth of resources which support College and Career Ready (CCR) standards-based instruction. These specific resources represent a selection of tools and information that are particularly relevant for adult education.

  • Key Advance One: Text complexity collection and Academic Word Finder
  • Key Advances One and Two: Mini-assessments
  • Key Advance Three: Text set project
  • Reading and foundational skills: 9-10th grade fluency packet 

The text complexity collection focuses on measuring and describing the complexity of instructional texts, and meeting the demands of Key Advance One.  It provides all of the tools and resources available to understand and successfully address text complexity. Some of the resources directly refer to K-12 grades, but still hold some value for adult educators.

The Academic Word Finder is designed to build the capacity of teachers and students alike to identify, understand, and effectively use academic vocabulary (tier two vocabulary) in complex text. This tool supports teachers and students to use level-appropriate complex texts in their lessons. 

The mini-assessments showcase sample assessments that illustrate the instructional shifts required by CCR standards for English language arts/literacy. “These mini-assessments are designed for teachers to use either in the classroom, for self-study, or in professional development settings.”  They demonstrate text-dependent questions which require close reading of texts.

The text set project is designed to build students’ knowledge through reading a variety of literary and information texts at varying Lexile levels. The supplemental materials provided in each text set, such as the rolling vocabulary journal, glossary, and “learning worth remembering” graphic organizer allow students to compare texts, understand the main idea of text, and find the deeper meaning in words, sentence structure, and phrases.

In the 9-10th grade fluency packet, students are tasked with repetitiously reading passages of a similar genre. Students exercise their ability to understand spoken word, decode and employ phonics, and read with accuracy. The vocabulary and checking for understanding at the end of the passage reinforces the idea that students should still be able to comprehend what they have read.

The text complexity collection presents resources that provide the background information on why text complexity is important, how to measure and assess complex texts, and how to use them in the classroom. The tools can be used to verify that texts used for instruction are appropriately complex.

The primary audience for this resource is teachers who are responsible for providing instruction aligned to CCR standards. The resource would also find an audience with professional developers responsible for teaching instructors how to implement CCR standards. Some adult educators will be familiar with the qualitative and quantitative text complexity tools, for example, those who have used The Instructional Advances in English Language Arts/Literacy online resources. However, these supplemental resources encourage adult educators to dive more deeply into text complexity and all its facets. 

The Academic Word Finder supports the tools available in the text complexity collection. It is not intended to “replace teacher judgment; rather it helps to support the teacher and identify the most useful academic words” in texts they are teaching. The primary target audience is practicing classroom teachers and those who support classroom instruction in adult education programs. Curriculum developers and publishers may also find this a useful tool for planning purposes.

The mini-assessments are designed for teachers to use in the classroom, for self-learning, or in professional development settings. The assessments can be used immediately by adult educators and serve as models for the selection and analysis of complex texts and the development of related assessments.  The assessments offer an opportunity for students to do a close reading in a way that simulates a standardized testing experience. They are also useful for instructors to be able to see how well their students do with CCR standards aligned texts and tasks that are designed as a test simulation. No adaptation of these materials is needed. Some texts, however, may not be appropriate for adult education students. The mini-assessments for grades 6-12 are probably the most relevant for adults.

Text sets are designed for teachers who are responsible for providing instruction aligned to CCR standards. Each text set centers on a single topic and includes a variety of sources including books, articles, videos, websites, infographics. The sets include suggested activities which build content knowledge and vocabulary and assess students’ comprehension.

The fluency packets work to increase student fluency. The fluency packets can be used as supplemental materials, intervention work, homework assignments, or direct instruction. Each fluency packet includes high-quality texts, a focus on vocabulary, and comprehension questions.

The text complexity collection provides a thorough and complete explanation of all aspects of text complexity. The quantitative and qualitative tools for text complexity as well as the research on text complexity are all helpful features of the resource.  The quick reference chart and guide to online complexity tools along with the qualitative scales are all extremely useful. This is a valuable selection of resources because text complexity is such a key component of implementing the CCR standards.

The Academic Word Finder (AWF) itself is a very useful instructional tool. After opening a free account, users can upload texts to the AWF which then highlights the most useful academic vocabulary words from a given text. The tool identifies below, at, and above learning level tier two words and includes definitions for various contextual meanings and parts of speech. Learning levels are associated with k-12 grade levels, and adult educators will need to choose the corresponding CCR level. 

The quantitative assessment tool and AWF, used together, establish the quantitative complexity and corresponding CCR level of a text, and the academic vocabulary below, at, and above the CCR level.

The text sets and fluency packets for higher grade levels will be most applicable for adult students.

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