This tool helps teachers evaluate text complexity for literary and informational text, aiding teachers in their lesson and unit planning. In this brief resource, Karin Hess first describes the eight factors that affect text complexity. The resource includes the Hess Text Complexity Tools, which are rubrics with descriptors of increasing complexity that allows teachers to qualitatively analyze informational and literary texts. The text complexity rubrics were developed and refined for classroom use by middle and high school classroom teachers in New York City. This resource also includes a lesson-planning worksheet, an example of an informational text that has been annotated for text features, and a completed text-complexity rubric for informational text. This resource is based on “Tools for Examining Text Complexity” (Hess & Hervey, 2010) in Linking Research with Practice (Hess, 2013).
This resource provides practical, nicely formatted tools and just enough relevant content to make it useful for teachers. The resource is aligned to the new College and Career Readiness Standards, especially regarding the Common Core’s emphasis on text complexity, although the document is not explicit about this alignment. It should be noted that understanding a text’s complexity is a good first step in planning lessons (especially lessons using close reading), but it is not sufficient. Teachers and educators who use this tool need to apply the features of text complexity into other parts of a lesson, such as creating text-dependent questions and other instructional and student-learning tasks.