T.E.R.A.: Coh-Metrix Common Core Text Ease and Readability Assessor

The Text Ease and Readability Assessor (T.E.R.A.) is a tool that uses the Coh-Metrix program to analyze a text by providing measures of text easability and readability. Typical tools for readability largely base their measures on two textual features, word familiarity sentence difficulty.). In contrast, T.E.R.A. analyzes more complex features of text (i.e. cohesion features) in order to provide a more complete assessment of its readability. T.E.R.A. displays a profile of a text based on five textual components that provide the user with a basic but more comprehensive understanding of is the easability and readability of a text.

T.E.R.A. is available for free at the following link:  T.E.R.A. Common Core

The five textural components

  1. Narrativity measures how much a text is story-like; the greater the degree of narrativity, the easier the text is to read. In contrast, less narrativity can indicate that the text contains more complex information.
  2. Syntactic Simplicity measures how syntax is structured, which is determined by the number of words and clauses in a sentence, or the number of words before the main verb in the sentence. When the syntax is more complex, readers can have more difficulty creating a coherent understanding of the sentence’s meaning. 
  3. Word Concreteness measures the number of concrete words in comparison to abstract words. In contrast to abstract words, concrete words offer clear mental images, which allow a text to be easier to comprehend.
  4. Referential Cohesion measures how much words, word stems, or concepts overlap within a text; low referential cohesion can cause a reader to have difficulty connecting ideas between sentences.
  5. Deep Cohesion measures how events and ideas are related throughout the entire text; with greater overlap suggesting greater overall cohesion.

Each of these components is scored for a particular text based on a comparison to thousands of other texts in a corpora (Graesser, McNamara, & Kulikowich, 2011).

In addition to the descriptive summary, T.E.R.A. also estimates the grade level of the text using the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level readability formula (Kincaid, Fishburne, Rogers, & Chissom, 1975). This tool is particularly useful for educators as it allows them to profile texts that students will read in the class as it indicates the source of the potential challenges in text, and how those challenges might be managed and taken advantage of within classroom instruction.

See Jackson, Allen, and McNamara, in press, for more information about T.E.R.A.