Six or Seven Text Pairings Implied by Common Core ELA Standards?

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What does "text pairing" mean?

What does “text pairing” mean?

Who’s counting? Evidently, PARCC !

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I posted a blog several days ago entitled Six Text Type Pairings for Critical Thinking & Common Core Success. However, among the documents published April 30, 2013 on the PARCC website is a PowerPoint entitled “PARCC ELA Passage Selection Guidelines” within which is a entitled “Standards Call for Seven Types of Paired Passages” (slide 14) that are demanded in adherence to the Common Core ELA/Literacy Standards. The seven types of pairings are detailed with corresponding standards:

  1. Comparing literary elements, including theme (e.g., RL.3.9, RL.4.5, RL.6.9, RL.11-12.9)
  2. Comparing central ideas, topics, including same event and point of view (e.g., RI.3.9, RI.4.6, RI.8.9, RI.9-10.9, RH.11-12.6)
  3. Comparing and/or analyzing different versions of the same text (e.g., RL.4.7, RI. 7.7, RI.8.7, RL.11-12.7)
  4. Analyzing how ideas are transformed from one text to another (RI.6.9, RL.7.9, RST.6-8.9, RL.9-10.9, RH.9-10.9)
  5. Integrating information for a purpose (e.g., RI.4.9, RI.5.9, RH.11-12.9)
  6. Comparing structure of texts (e.g., RI.5.5, RL.8.5)
  7. Analyzing supplemental elements (e.g., RL.3.7, RI.3.7, RI.4.7, RI.5.7)

For clarification, text pairings one through six require that readers look at two separate texts meeting grade level criteria: I.e., two texts same author, two texts same time period, two texts different genres, etc. Pairing seven is unlike the previous pairings because it asks readers to attend to supplemental elements (often nonalphabetic) of a main or complete text to examine illustrations, maps, graphs, charts, diagrams, timelines, animations, and/or “interactive elements on Web pages.” The purposes for this close reading of supplemental textual aspects are to “explain” (RL.3.7), to “use” (RI.3.7), to “interpret” (RI.4.7) how supplemental, often graphic forms of communication enhance or clarify the primary alphabetic/print text. For me…that is not pairing–the graphics are part of the text. In the history of close reading, this was a significant argument laid out by literary theorists: what constituted the text. Among those arguments was whether footnotes are part of the text. In general, the footnotes accepted as part of the text were those included by the author at the time of text creation but not those footnotes added by editorialists of primary texts.

Some may argue that each text within a text of multiple mediums is independent of the other. Granted, each could be seen as an independent text; but in most cases, supplemental elements do not stand alone–the verbal text and the visual texts are co-dependent. Although the written text can often stand independent of the visual representation the reverse is not true. As a matter of fact, in many technical representations, the visual supplement greatly enhances the reader’s ability to apprehend, visualize, and/or replicate the message of the print text.

The one standard questionable to the seventh category is that of RI.5.7: “Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently” (CCSS, 2010, p. 14). In my mind, that sounds more like “integrating information for a purpose” or Pairing Type 5. Gee…while I’m splitting hairs here, I am wondering why RI.6.7 isn’t listed among Pairing Type 5; in the initial assessment RFP, that standard does appear among those listed as a Type 5. Listen to the similarities y between Standard 5.9 in Reading for informational text and RI.6.7: “Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably” (RI.5.9, 14) and “Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue” (RI.6.7, p. 39). This may have been an oversight on the part of those who assembled the PowerPoint available on the PARCC website.

The important lesson within PARCC’s publication of the Assessment Blueprint and Testing Specifications is that of close reading. Teachers and administrators do not need to commit to memory the text pairing type within grade levels, but they do need to read the standards closely to understand what each standard expects students to do, what text genres they need be reading, and how many texts or aspects of texts are needed to show proficiency in meeting the standard.

For thoughts about how to pair texts in science, read my blog: Close Reading & Scientific Text: Patterns of Comparison

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