Sometimes back I posted about getting accessible online text, but after seeing a recent blog post at Eye on Education on “How to Select Complex Text to Increase Rigor? I thought about talking about the topic once again. My original post focused more on how to find reading passages for differentiation but this recent article’s approach to measuring text complexity has upped this need to a new level.
This post will be focusing on one aspect of text complexity which is commonly called “quantitative evaluation” by the Common Core. You should note that it’s important to put in place other measures for you to explore complexity well.
As of now, you’ll find many web-based tools that will aid you in the quantitative evaluation of books. Our students will likely read both print and digital materials (especially in states that administer PARCC texts), tools that will help in identifying the scales for digital or online text will also be important. Well, below are the top five web-based tools that are mostly free and will help in designing reading content for students;
Common Core Resources: 5 Technology Tools for Measuring Text Complexity
Online databases should be at the top of the list when searching for online text. Most schools and libraries pay subscription fees for these online database collections such as GALE and EBSCO. Majority of these tools are free for teachers and students, but in reality their costs are met elsewhere. The included databases will vary based on your subscription; however, you should check their Lexile range.
The Lexile website has full information on database providers who include Lexile information in their services. And even if the district or school doesn’t pay for these databases, then there are high chances that the nearest public library pays. If there is a librarian in your school, then befriend him/her. That way, you can seek help in choosing the grade-appropriate material and other important information that is related to information literacy.
GoogleSearch based on the Reading Level
Well, if you’re using a Google search engine, then this is your best option. Just navigate to “Advanced” search options and filter the results by “Basic” or “intermediate” or “Advanced” reading level. When you check Daniel Russel, you will understand how they designed this filter. It says that they hired teachers to classify the reading materials by academic levels. They also used Google Scholar as most of the texts here are of advanced levels.
According to Google’s classification, “Basic” is for elementary level, “intermediate” is for grade 6-12 levels. Finally, “Advanced” is for the post-secondary or scholarly text. Learn more about How to teach Close Reading.
JuicyStudio will help you analyze the URL of an article and check its readability score. It has algorithms for checking the readability, number of words and sentences as well as the syllables in the article. It also uses other indexes but it doesn’t specifically identify the Lexile numbers. Some of the other indexes used are Flesch-Kincaid and Gunning Fogg.
EditCentral works like JuicyStudio and passes the texts through its algorithm to determine its readability index. But instead of pasting URLs only, you can also paste up to 50,000 characters to the site. This website doesn’t also identify the Lexile numbers but it uses color-coding to underline the texts of different reading levels and underlines those that may be difficult or complex to understand. They usually do this by noting those with a high number of syllables but some words will also increase the wording difficulty and the site will help you identify these words.
Story Tools is a free tool that I encountered after reading a post on ESL. It works just like EditCentral and you will be able to post up to 5,000 characters without logging in and 50,000 after characters you create an account. It has various indexes for determining the readability and additional reports on the text.
Besides the top tools above, you can also use “the Lexile Analyzer”, after creating an account, you can update up to 1000 words in a .txt document for analysis. It’s free and there is a professional version ideal for longer documents.
There are also other tools other there that can be operated via a web browser to help you in quantitative evaluation and you can use other tools like MS word to get basic grade level like Flesch Kincaid. As mentioned above, don’t rely entirely on this to determine complexity as it focuses on one component of reading. But it’s the best place to start as you work to discover the right content for your learners.
You might need to know what is academic vocabulary to make a quality text complexity analysis.