Centrality of Text

Texts hold a fundamental place in the area of literacy. In an assignment, the centrality of text permits students to grapple with key ideas, larger meanings, and author’s craft and intent. Students must have the opportunity to:

  • display increasing expertise in interpreting and responding to a text, and
  • draw evidence from a text to justify their responses and thinking.

Such skills are essential to postsecondary success and undergird pedagogical shifts. Specifically, an assignment fully reflects this centrality of text when students are required to cite evidence (e.g., paraphrasing, direct citation) to support an opinion, position, or claim.

Guiding Questions

  • Do I ask students to interpret and respond to complex texts? When? How often?
  • Do I ask students to cite textual evidence in order to support or develop a claim? When? How often?
  • How do I select texts for my students to read?

Questions for Analysis


What is the name of the text?
Is the text complex?

  1. No
  2. Yes

If yes, what type(s) of text complexity do you notice?

  • Consider the quantitative complexity of a text (e.g., Lexile, AIZ level, gradeIlevel equivalency).

  • Consider the qualitative complexity of a text (e.g., content, theme, language, sentence structure, literary elements).

What is the genre of the text(s)?

  1. No text

  2. Literature (e.g., stories, drama, poetry)

  3. Informational (e.g., historical text, technical texts, literary nonfiction, memoir, biography)

  4. Mixture of literature and informational text

  • A text typically falls into one of two genres: literature or informational.

  • Dictionaries, glossaries, and thesauruses do not count as a text.

What is the predominant text type?

  1. No text

  2. Written text with minimal/no visual text

  3. A mixture of written and visual text

  4. Visual text with minimal/no written text (e.g., video, drawings, diagrams with short captions)

  • Written texts may include, but are not limited to, a novel or trade book, traditional textbook, poem, letter, article, lab experiment, magazine, or webpage.

  • Visual texts may include comics, videos, paintings, photographs, speaker, performances, or music.

  • Many written texts include illustrations, pictures, graphs, or tables to present or highlight key ideas and information. In these cases, the text should be classified as a written text because the pictures, graphs, tables, etc., are part of a written text; they do not stand alone.

Which best describes the text length?

  1. Not applicable

  2. Excerpt (too short, e.g., single quotation or up to two paragraphs)

  3. Text excerpt (shorter than a chapter)

  4. Chapter(s) (e.g., chapter from a novel or textbook)

  5. Full text

  • If there is more than one text, base your analysis of length on the longest text.

Does the assignment solicit text-based responses? Is a student’s use of the text vital to successfully complete the assignment?

  1. No

  2. Yes

  • Students must use/refer to the text, in order to complete the assignment.

Does the assignment require students to cite evidence from the text?

  1. No

  2. Yes

  • Students analyze the text to find support for an opinion, position, or claim.

  • "Cite evidence" also means students must paraphrase or include a direct quote from the text.