R.A.C.E. for Reading Comprehension and Writing
By Regina Mallon, Kimberly Strong, and Robin Hartman Agora Cyber Charter School
With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards, it is no longer enough for students to read text and prove comprehension by answering simple recall questions or providing short answers that discuss their personal connections or background knowledge on the topic. Assessments now require students to respond to any text they read by using constructed responses that analyze multiple texts and use evidence-based examples.
Reading Comprehension Strategies
In support of this, it is essential that reading comprehension be addressed by adopting reading comprehension strategies that will help students understand the material they are reading, which will in turn give them a concrete focus when responding to the questions being asked. Reading and writing are interchangeable, whereas students are required to demonstrate their comprehension of text by writing a clear and concise response that uses evidence from the text in order to answer constructed response questions.
R.A.C.E: Connecting Reading Comprehension and Writing
R.A.C.E. – Restate, Answer, Cite, and Explain – is currently being implemented at from K-12 and beyond and provides a routine approach to answering questions accurately and with detailed evidence that comes straight from the text. The R.A.C.E. strategy requires a student to respond to prompts by restating and answering the question while citing and explaining the evidence that proves the response is correct. In effect, it is no longer acceptable to be able to read fluently and answer simple questions. Students must learn how to read for information so they are able to make connections to multiple texts and form ideas on what they have read.
Reading Comprehension and Writing Beyond ELA
As with many reading and writing strategies, R.A.C.E should be applied in areas far beyond the ELA classroom. Students who learn to read for information and respond using a writing strategy such as R.A.C.E. can develop their response skills in all content areas. Students can analyze history and science text and respond to questions that prompt them to prove a level of understanding, which once typically saw students struggling. The R.A.C.E. strategy can also be an integral part of mathematics instruction, as it can help students gain a sense of comprehension as to what the question is asking, and therefore prepare to use the correct mathematical approaches to find the solution. By using this strategy, students demonstrate the processes and reasoning used in solving the problem.
Transfer Skills from R.A.C.E.
It is relatively clear that future state assessments will continue to expect students to answer constructed response questions that ask for analysis and synthesis of rigorous text. Beginning at a young age, students must receive direction instruction and continue to build on these skills so that they are college level ready. In many situations, adults must be ready to read and understand text that is unfamiliar, but important to understand. As this is the focus in new career settings, our students must become comfortable at a young age with developing strategies that can help them understand texts, identify important sections, and apply their new knowledge to the situation.
Implementation of the R.A.C.E. strategy – along with annotation and close reading strategies – is a concrete, focused way that asks students to read a question and respond by restating and answering the question, citing evidence, and explaining that evidence. R.A.C.E will help students improve comprehension because they will know and identify the question being asked and review their responses to check if an adequate answer has been provided.
Adopting a program that offers constant feedback for students when using this strategy will provide students with the practice and experience necessary to become experts at constructed response questions and analysis of text. As students achieve a complex level of understanding of different texts, they will be encouraged to engage in more rigorous text independently because of their newfound expertise in applying reading and writing strategies for comprehension and analysis.
Next, read about an English teachers’ process for developing more robust ELA curriculum.
Gina’s experience as an educator includes 8 years of owning and operating an early childhood learning center, as well as 17 years in elementary education as both a general education and special education teacher. She earned her Masters Degree at Cabrini College and am also a certified Reading Specialist. For the past 7 years, Gina has been working at Agora Cyber Charter School as a special education teacher.
Kimberly is currently in my 6th year teaching elementary education at Agora Cyber Charter School. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Pennsylvania State University in Kinesiology/Athletic Training and a Master’s Degree in Health Education from Tempe University. Kimberly spent 15 years in this setting before moving to elementary education at West Chester University.
Robin is currently in her 17th educational teaching year. She graduated from Temple University with a degree in elementary education and spent 9 years working as a 6th grade science and math teacher. While this was exciting and a great learning experience, Robin made a change and has been teaching English Language Arts for the past 8 years in the cyber school setting to students in grades 3 through 5. She recently got my master’s degree in educational leadership and uses these skills to help educate students from across the state of Pennsylvania who need an alternative educational experience.