Text Complexity Triangle (from https://lincs.ed.gov/state-resources/federal-initiatives/college-career-readiness/ela)

Selecting texts for adult learners involves:

  • Analyzing text to ensure it is at the appropriate complexity level (based on diagnostic assessments of learners' reading levels)
  • Ensuring that texts are appropriate for adults in topic and presentation
  • Organizing texts in a unit or text set so that they work together to build background knowledge on a topic or develop understanding around a specific idea

Analyzing for Text Complexity

Text complexity refers to the cognitive challenge the text presents to the reader. Briefly, identifying the complexity of a text incorporates three kinds of analysis:

  1. Quantitative Analysis: Use quantitative measures to assign a text to a grade ban [see TextCompare, Juicy Studio, Lexile Framework, Intervention Central, Readability Calculator, Readability Formulas]
  2. Qualitative Analysis: Use a rubric to analyze the complexity of a text
  3. Reader and Task: Use your professional judgment to decide how suited the text is for this task (a specific instructional purpose) with these readers (i.e. the students in front of you, rather than generic students)

For more: CCSSO Resources for Navigating Text Complexity

Appropriate Texts for Adult Learners 

Care should be taken to ensure that texts chosen for a unit or lesson are appropriate for adults in topic and presentation. Visit the page below for a list of resources that can help you find level-appropriate texts for adult topics and interests.

Organizing Texts

Ideally, texts that students read in a unit should build off each other, gradually taking students deeper into the topic and exposing them to increasingly more complex vocabulary and ideas. It can be helpful to think of the texts in a unit working together as a text set.

Text Sets are curated and sequenced readings and resources, often with accompanying activities, that support learners in building knowledge on a specific topic over time.

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