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An Exploration of Text Difficulty and Knowledge Support on Adolescents' Comprehension

Reading Research Quarterly

The purpose of the study was to determine whether easy or challenging versions of texts, when accompanied by different types of instructional support, improved adolescents’ reading comprehension, particularly for students with below-average reading comprehension. The authors examined 293 ninth-grade students’ reading comprehension of 24 leveled texts over a 12-week intervention in which teachers were randomly assigned to one of two instructional strategies prior to reading: K-W-L or Listen-Read-Discuss. Students were randomly assigned within classes to read either easy or challenging versions of the texts, and students’ text comprehension was assessed after each lesson. Findings revealed that comprehension of the easy and challenging versions was similar for most students, but students in the K-W-L classrooms outperformed students in the Listen-Read-Discuss classrooms. Only a small subset of students who read significantly below average, many of whom were identified as English learners, benefited from reading the easier versions. The results suggest that most students, even if struggling with comprehension, can read challenging versions of texts when accompanied by instructional support.

Research and Reports
Content Area Teachers, ELA Teachers, ELL Teachers, Reading Instructors/Literacy Coaches
High School, Middle School

Lupo, S. M., Tortorelli, L., Invernizzi, M., Ryoo, J. H., & Strong, J. Z. (2019). An Exploration of Text Difficulty and Knowledge Support on Adolescents’ Comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 54( 4), 457– 479.