National Geographic - Learning

English Learning

Complex, Grade-Level Text: An Excellence and Equity Tool for Language Learners

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Complex, grade-level text is a cornerstone of everyday learning for all students, including language learners at all stages of English proficiency. But grade-level text isn’t just a tool for academic success—it’s an equity tool. This session will focus on the ways that content-rich, grade-level texts cultivate knowledge, language, and comprehension skills, and what effective use looks like in today’s classrooms. The session will also delineate how teaching with complex, grade-level text, especially with English language learners, is actually crucial for promoting educational equity.


Nonie K. Lesaux is Roy E. Larsen Professor of Education and Human Development at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research focuses on promoting the language and literacy skills of today’s children from diverse linguistic, cultural and economic backgrounds. Lesaux’s work has earned her the William T. Grant Scholars Award, and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor given by the United States government to young professionals beginning their independent research careers. Lesaux’s research appears in numerous scholarly publications, and its practical applications are featured in three books. She is also the author of a widely circulated state literacy report that forms the basis for a Third Grade Reading Proficiency bill passed in Massachusetts. She is the series editor of Lift and co-author of Reach Higher, both from National Geographic Learning.
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