numeracy, literacy, informational text, reading comprehension, Newsela, simplified text, informational text comprehension, lexile, differentiation, secondary education, English language arts
New York-based education startup Newsela has quickly gained popularity with K-12 educators in the six years since its launch. Its website boasts that it serves 90% of schools in the United States including the 1.5 million teachers they employ and their 20 million students. But what makes it so popular? Teachers are drawn to its Common Core-aligned informational texts which facilitate content-area connections while exposing students to important current events. Likely the most appealing aspect of the platform is its compatibility with differentiation, as it makes available five iterations of each article at varying levels of complexity or Lexile which enables teachers to assign the same article to all students regardless of differences in reading ability. Because all Newsela articles are nonfiction, many utilize mathematical representations to communicate quantitative information, placing demands on students’ numeracy competencies. This paper presents the findings of a thematic analysis of the numeracy events found in five Newsela articles at the maximum complexity level and their four simplified equivalents. It explores the various ways in which quantitative information is represented in Newsela articles at differing levels of complexity and what happens to the mathematical representations of quantitative information as text complexity decreases. The analysis reveals that seven different forms of mathematical representation are commonly used in Newsela articles at both ends of the complexity spectrum, at similar rates. As text complexity decreases, authors rely upon qualitative representations of quantitative information, or mathematical words and phrases, more heavily than quantitative representations, which utilize numbers.
Agnello, Ellen C.. "Simplified but Not the Same: Tracing Numeracy Events through Manually Simplified Newsela Articles." Numeracy 14, Iss. 2 (2021): Article 1. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5038/1936-4618.104.22.1685
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