This paper presents the research-based decisions that determine text complexity within the Dynamic Learning Maps Alternate Assessment System (DLM). In this paper, factors related to text complexity found in college and career readiness standards (and in particular the Common Core State Standards) are explained with respect to the characteristics of students with significant cognitive disabilities. The paper also explains how texts are authored in DLM to support this student population in comprehending texts in increasingly complex ways.
Although the body of work on text complexity that’s presented in this paper is not new, much of it having been published elsewhere, it provides a concrete research base and a review for its readers. The value of this short paper is that it includes how students with significant cognitive abilities relate to each feature of complex texts. The bulk of the paper presents how texts found in the DLM system are controlled for quantitative and qualitative complexity (e.g., word length, word concreteness, grammatical complexity, use of figurative language) to ensure that reader and task characteristics for this student population are appropriately addressed. Although this resource is purposely written for the DLM and is helpful to teachers in states that are using the DLM as their alternate assessment system, the content in this resource will benefit any educator who would like to know more about how text complexity affects students with cognitive disabilities.