A History of Third-Grade Reading Textbook Complexity

Open Access
Hammershlag, Perri Lyn
Area of Honors:
Elementary and Kindergarten Education
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • David Alexander Gamson, Thesis Supervisor
  • Deborah Anne Smith, Honors Advisor
  • reading
  • textbook complexity
Some researchers argue that the complexity of grade school reading textbook texts have decreased over the past century. However, others suggest that text complexity, when assessed using quantitative measures, has increased. Text must be looked at three ways in order to assess complexity: quantitatively, qualitatively and reader and task demands. This study focused on collecting qualitative data for literary texts, informational texts, and poems found in reading textbooks at a third grade level in order to assess changes in the complexity of texts. Text complexity has significantly increased throughout the century for literary texts and similar trends of increased complexity are found in informational texts. Although the number of questions and activities associated with a text has declined, the complexity of the questions and the requirement of the comprehension of texts in order to answer a question or complete an activity have increased. Researchers and educators must be aware of the changes in complexity in order to help students reach achievement and be prepared for college.