Sunday, June 23, 2013

Text Complexity

RLS-Dr. Douglas Fisher

Text Complexity: Raising Rigor in Reading. Get this book. 

the big four 4 standards:
Reading 1, 1-, Writing 1, SL1
Reading text closely, reading complex text, writing arguments, talking a lot

Complex Text:

Qualitative measures is the hard part. This tells you why it's complex. these are your teaching points.  A Farewell to Arms is 730L which is 2-3 grade. The qualitative analysis gives you the teaching points which puts it at high school. 

Background knowledge is lived experience. Prior knowledge is what you are taught. Cultural knowledge is what you have been told by family as your experience whether it is or not. 

You can't just be in the presence of hard text. You have to talk and write about it.  Talk has to be about grade level topics, texts, and issues. 

Close Reading is a type of guided instruction. Teacher is intentionally  asking questions, providing direction, probing, pointing out analysis. 

Instructional behaviors of close reading: short passage, re-reading to demand evidence or answer a new question, read with a pencil using annotation skills, ask text-dependent questions, give students the chance to struggle a bit with text.  In a close reading, we avoid front loading or pre-teaching.  Close reading is taking all the front end scaffolds and distributing them throughout the readings of the text.  

A 3-4 year old has great listening comprehension. Try skipping a page in a story at night to see how well they can listen and comprehend. In some cases, they get to school and we lower their listening comprehension experiences to their reading comprehension level.  Keep the listening comprehension high with read alouds as they learn to read. 

If students can't tell the beginning, middle, and end of the Hungry Caterpillar, re-read it to them. Don't tell them. What foods gave him a stomach ache, which didn't? Make a chart. Who tells the story, the narrator or the caterpillar? How do you know? They can answer these questions on the 3rd or 4th read. Slow down and let them think about it. The author says he is hungry? Is he? How do we know? where is it in the text? Is this a happy story or a sad one? How do you know?  Compare to Monarch Butterfly. How are they alike? How are the books different?
Teachers need help writing the right questions. 

Argument: the warrant is the hardest part.  How the evidence supports the claim.  Task templates. Sentence frames for grownups. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Reading Leadership Symposium. Notes from Jan Hasbrouck by Brook Meiller

RLS-Jan Hasbrouck, leading researcher in the area of early reading.
Common Core Foundational Skills and Instruction

90-95% of all the brains born into the world have the capacity to achieve literacy skills at or approaching grade level.  The brain potential is there. We have that evidence. The challenges make it harder and harder, but the brain capacity is there. 
We get there through instruction and  prevention.  How do we achieve this in the REAL WORLD?

The CCSS is the destination.  It's the Emerald City. Exciting, ambitious destination. No one has been there before. We are on the journey. 

Foundational Skills are not the end goal, but they are necessary and important components.

Print Concepts at K-1. Really good standards. Use those as logical lists for teachers to follow.  Knowledge of alphabet visually and by sound.

PA: Really good standards. Clearly laid out as big ideas. 

Phonics: Really good standards. primary and most common sounds.  Could argue that some students don't get all the phonics by 5th grade. 

Fluency: Good definition: Reasonable accurate reading at an appropriate rate with suitable prosody that leads to accurate and deep comprehension and motivation to read.  The research on fluency says that accuracy comes first, not rate.  Aim for 95% in established readers for everyday reading. Emerging readers: 97-98% accuracy. What they read is up to us, so to build fluency we should give them text they can read and feel comfortable with so they will want to read.  Fluent reading should sound like speech. Not speeding nor slow and plodding. Unpracticed grade level text. Hasbrouck Tindal chart.  It oftens gets used incorrectly.  Aim for the 50th percentile on this chart for unpracticed grade level text. 

Study the foundational skills more closely with K-1 teachers.  focus on purpose and understanding. 

Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension. This is flawed. accuracy is part of fluency. We have to just say fluency at grades 1-5. The standards are wrong in this aspect according to Hasbrouck. So true. A reader is not accurate and fluent. Accuracy is part of fluency. 

Really foundational skills should be continued up to 8th grade. Trying to get research even past that. 

Instructional Components timeline is cool. look at that. 

Set Your Sails for Success  Hasbrouck and Denton 2005 and 2009.  
Grew out of the Effective Schools research.
1. standards
2. assessments
3. instruction and intervention
4. leadership
5. sustained commitment

Quality of Teachers. 
1. effectively organize and manage the classroom environment
2. plan lessons and interventions differentiated to meet the identified needs of all students at all ability and skill levels.
3. deliver instruction using validated, effective instructional strategies and materials. 

Materials: content-rich  curriculum has to be in the materials. Don't move to random choices, you must have solid curriculum. 
Systematic instruction needs scope and sequence.
Explicit I do , we do, ya'll do, you do. Must have collaborative piece.
Intensive: using instructional time. NO excuses type of instruction

Rosenshine, 2012 10 Principles of Effective Instruction.  Find this article. 

Look at her work in fluency. 

Reading Leadership Symposium, Santa Fe, NM. Notes from Brook Meiller, Norman

Reading Leadership Symposium-Tim Shanahan
Tim Shanahan: Where Are We Now With the Common Core?

30 states lowered their standards to meet NCLB in the last 10 years.

Don't forget the Appendices where it breaks down the PA and phonics skills breakdown.

The standards represent goals and opposed to trying to specify the entire curriculum.  The goal is writing from text, but doesn't specify teaching students to print. You are supposed to do that! writing is the power standard, of course you have to teach the skills that support writing. 

Vocabulary is no longer part of reading comprehension as it has been in the past. Interpreting words and phrases is in the reading standards and writing standards. But vocabulary is in the language section stronger. It just isn't where you are used to seeing it. 

The common core ARE the POWER standards. You can't find it within it. Teach the 42 standards.

Developing pacing guides is a bad idea: The standards are integrated. Don't divide by report card marking. 

We have to do less "out of level" teaching. Kids need access to instructional, on level, and above level text.  We have to put weight on the bar. It matters how hard the text is.  Raise text difficulty levels and do less out of level teaching. So our small groups need to be with grade level text. 

How do we teach students to read above their level? How do we help teachers? We have to guide kids to read that kind of material.  Engage kids in reading more challenging language with our support and scaffolding and reading and rereading texts. We will see measurable, sizable reading achievement. 

What we have done in the past when the text gets too hard: lower the text level,  read it aloud, tell them what it means, front load so much that the kids don't have to read. We have to change that. We have to scaffold, support, reread, chunk, etc. 

Guided Reading Controversy: Placement of the student at instructional level. Guided reading research does not exist on this. We are putting them in text that is too easy. We have to do small group instruction with students in grade level text. The exception: not in kindergarten and 1st grade.  Closely match them to text in K and 1st. Get them to CC levels at 2nd grade. 

Close reading: not a technique. It's a goal. We want our children to be close readers.  Put a pencil in your hand. Reread. 

Small group: need to ask questions, help students through the text. Follow the text. Ask what's in there.  Read Doug Fisher's stuff on close reading. Way beyond a retell.  There isn't a neat checklist. Is the question important, does it matter or is it trivia. Does the question help the kids understand the text and be able to evaluate it and connect it to other texts.  You have to follow the text. AP for all. 

Text evidence, solving the problem of how the text works.

ED Hirsch: sees CCSS as a return to some traditional learning of rich information from text. 

Writing from Sources is the biggest change. Write about the ideas they read. This is especially new in writing assessments.  Thankfully, Oklahoma  began this year. 

The 90 minutes reading block has to be the literacy block where reading, writing, and language all work together in integrated instruction. 

Multiple text work emphasis is on simple comparison of one text to another. 

Disciplinary literacy are the province of the entire school, NOT the ELA department. 

Other Issues:
PreK standards: there are no plans to include it because PreK should not really change. the primary grade changes are the smallest so the magnitude of preschool change should not be that large. If your PreK wasn't aligned to literacy, there are big changes. If you were already aligned, it isn't that big of change. Oklahoma, New York, and Utah standards were already there. Use those as a guide.-Vicki Gibson. 

RtI: a larger percentage of students will be in tier 2 due to CCSS. Rethink pull out programs to support students with complex text instead of placing students at their "levels". We will be looking at 50% of students not meeting standards in those first years.  When kids go to a pull out teacher, they need to be in grade level text. 

Report Cards: the lists are really long when you try to address every skill, every standard. The detail parents need is really too much for the report cards. Use the categories maybe: Key ideas and Details may need to be a section on the report card. Craft and Structure should be a section. Integration of Knowledge and Meaning. Use those categories on report cards. Interesting idea.

NCLB: CCSS doesn't replace NCLB. They are the standards that NCLB will use data on from the states.  Reading comprehension strategies are not the point, they aren't outcomes. Do they understand is the outcome. So, use the strategies to get to the goal of understanding.  We have to rethink using PARCC or Smarter Balance assessments for state level high stakes for kids. 

Keeping Parent Informed: They are getting pulled in by political fear of CCSS. It isn't fair to them. CCSS should be communicated over and over again to parents. If all they hear is politics, they will not be able to help and support you as you move students to higher levels of reading and writing.
Coming Together to Raise Achievement is at

Political Scrutiny: "challenged" in 16 states. Most challenge comes from political right (home school, religious groups, Glenn Beck, Tea Party). Other groups want things to slow down: from AFT, Learning Alliance, IRA.  Other push back: Federalism, Lack of Proper Due Process, Push back on Bill Gates/Microsoft/Big Business. 
No one says the standards are bad or these are not things kids need to know: it is all about philosophy. 
This is actually dividing the Republican Party. Business against philosophy. 
Data Mining is a fear. There is no more data mining than there is now.  Ask CC opposers why they don't want kids to read the foundational documents of our country or Shakespeare or Dickens.

The organization/schedule of the day has no effect on student achievement. What matters is what they are taught. 

Retention: Tim has always thought retention was a bad idea. It has resulted in drop outs. The research shows that it does not increase achievement over the long term.  Last two years: 2 studies that show benefit to retention. Florida is one. However, the FL study is a problem because they have so many initiatives. They did a lot more than retain kids. PD, money, investments in resources. retention plus everything else created their success. drop out chances go up 50% with one retention. 90% with two retentions. If you are willing to invest as much as they did, it might work. Otherwise, there is a lot of research that says no. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Wouldn't it be nice if you had a place to go to get your questions answered about PARCC and Common Core? Well, not only are the members of the OKELC trying to provide up-to-date information about the PARCC assessment and guidance during the transition to the new Oklahoma C3 Standards for Math and ELA, we are your advocate. With this in mind, we've created a very simple survey that allows you to submit questions to us. We'll review questions as often as possible (at least once a month) and publish those we're able to answer.

As you might imagine, there will likely be some we are unable to answer. Fear not, we'll pass those questions on and do what we can to get them answered.

We'll try the process out for the summer months and determine whether or not to move forward with it in August. We are definitely open to ideas to improve it as well.

Until then, give it a visit at

Friday, April 19, 2013

Brief of DRAFT PARCC Accommodations Manual English Learner (EL) Section

Full document can be found at the bottom of the page at this address:

Download Brief Here

PARCC’s goals for promoting student access:
  • Apply principles of Universal Design
  • Minimizing/eliminating features that are irrelevant to what is being measured
  • Measuring the full range of the complexity of the standards
  • Leveraging technology for delivering assessment to allow for wide accessibility
  • Building accessibility throughout the test itself without hindering validity
  • Using a combination of accessible-authoring and accessible technologies from the inception of items and tasks
  • Engaging state and national experts in the development process: item review, bias and sensitivity review, policy development and review, and research.
Abbreviations and Jargon in the Manual:
  • ELs: Students whose primary or home language is other than English and cannot perform ordinary classwork in English because they may have limited or no age-appropriate ability to understand, speak, read, or write in English.
  • Refused ESL/ESOL Services are students considered EL who are qualified to receive ESL or ESOL services, but whose families have refused or waived such services.
  • Former English Learners: Students who are no longer classified as ELs, but whose progress is tracked for two years after they achieved the standards of fluency as identified on the state English proficiency assessment.
Effective accommodations for ELs should meet three conditions
  1. Reduce the linguistic load necessary to access the content of the curriculum or assessment
  2. Do not alter what is measured by the test or the test itself. As a result, accommodated scores of students receiving accommodations should be included and reported together with scores of students not receiving accommodations
  3. Address the unique linguistic and socio-cultural needs of an EL student by reducing the effects of English language skills on the student’s overall performance on the assessment.
  • ELs with IEPs are eligible to receive BOTH EL accommodations and accommodations determined for SWDs by their IEP/504 team.
  • Students for whom a district elects to provide EL support, but who are not officially classified as EL, are NOT ELIGIBLE for EL accommodations or exemptions for any statewide assessments.
  • Students not receiving language support program services due to parent/guardian refusal, but who are classified as EL, ARE considered eligible for PARCC testing accommodations.
Modifications are unacceptable changes to the test itself or what the test measures and are NOT
PERMITTED on PARCC assessments. Examples include:
  • Clarifying or paraphrasing test items
  • Answering questions about test items or coaching students during the test
  • Defining words or paraphrasing the test for the student
  • Using dictionaries that provide definitions rather than word-to-word
  • Allowing the student to complete the assessment in a language other than English.
Individuals involved in making accommodation decisions:
  • ESL/bilingual teachers, general educators who work with the student, school/district ESL/bilingual coordinator, school/district test coordinators, school administrators, guidance counselor, students, and parents
The group should:
  • discuss which accommodations might assist a student during daily instruction in the classroom;
  • determine which accommodations to “try out” with the student during instruction in each content area; 
  • document and evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodations used over time; 
  • make adjustments to the use of accommodations for the future; 
  • determine which of the accommodations used effectively in the classroom should be used on PARCC tests, provided they are allowed on the tests.
The process for selecting, administering, and evaluating accommodations for EL is outlined on pages 58-61. This includes the table for calculating the Composite ELP level from WIDA scores and ELDA scores.

  • Level of English language proficiency (ELP) on the state ELP test classified as beginning, intermediate, or advanced
  • Literacy development in the native language and interrupted schooling/literacy background
Background factors that impact effective accommodations use :
  • grade/age, 
  • affective filter such as level of student anxiety/comfort with English, and 
  • time in U.S. schools

To submit feedback on the Students with Disabilities portion of the Manual, please go to the PARCC website and click on the feedback survey link at the bottom of this page: