It's not really possible for a librarian to have such a comprehensive view of both students and the book collection. But under Race to the Top grants, several states are developing Instructional Improvement Systems that, among other things, will support recommendations like these. Such systems operate at the intersection of student data and content data. And to support them, inBloom (formerly the Shared Learning Collaborative) is deploying student and content data services.
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI) work together to support the content data side when teaching reading and writing. The CCSS for ELA-Literacy have two dimensions to their basic structure. The grid below shows one way to view the Common Core Standards for Reading. Making up the horizontal dimension are Anchor Standards 1-9. These describe specific skills that the student should be able to apply when reading. The vertical dimension is Anchor Standard 10, the requirement that the other nine anchor skills should be demonstrated against texts of increasing difficulty as the student advances from Kindergarten to 12th grade. Notably, grades 9 and 10 share a level as do grades 11 and 12.
|Common Core State Standards for Reading Literature|
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.6 Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, in the grades 4–5 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.6 Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated, including the difference between first- and third-person narrations.
So, what are these text complexity bands and how do we tell whether a text is within a particular band? In other words, how do we place a text or learning activity on the vertical dimension?
The grid diagram also includes an example of how a source text might be fully aligned to the common core literacy standards. In this case, To Kill a Mockingbird is shown as an appropriate text for teaching standards 1-7 at grades 9 or 10. So, the LRMI metadata for To Kill a Mockingbird would include alignment to standards RL.9-10.1, RL.9-10.2, RL.9-10.3, RL.9-10.4, RL.9-10.5, RL.9-10.6, and RL.9-10.7.
On the vertical dimension, To Kill a Mockingbird is positioned toward the middle of the grades 9-10 range. So, it would be considered moderately advanced for grade 9 and moderately easy for grade 10. To Kill a Mockingbird is rated an 870 on the Lexile scale. A quick glance at the table shows that 870 is in the 4th-5th grade range. The book is positioned higher on the grid than the raw Lexile number would indicate due to qualitative factors such as the complex moral dilemmas posed by the text.
The LRMI metadata schema is designed to be flexible enough to represent all of these dimensions. The AlignmentObject type represents the relationship between a text or learning activity and a node in a framework or taxonomy. The most obvious and common way this is use is with a alignmentType of "teaches" or "assesses" and the target node being a statement in the Common Core State Standards. In the To Kill a Mockingbird example, the "teaches" alignmentType would be used with targets of the six standards (RL.9-10.1 to RL.9-10.7). Any one of these six standards also implicitly brackets the vertical, text complexity dimension. In order to more finely position a resource, LRMI also defines a "textComplexity" alignmentType. Publishers of at least two of the quantitative frameworks listed above are in the process writing guidelines for their use with LRMI. It's also possible to use LRMI to indicate non-quantitative factors. To do so, we would need to define taxonomies for qualitative and "reader and task" factors with appropriate identifiers.
We have achievement standards (CCSS) and data standards (LRMI). There are emerging services like inBloom that build on these standards. I expect very soon a combination of CCSS, LRMI, open libraries of content and custom recommendation engines will offer students custom reading lists and writing activities tailored to their individual learning needs.