All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
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AdLit 101...

Suggestions for School Leaders


  • Find ways to accelerate, not remediate.

    Historically, remedial reading courses have tended to be a dead end for the students assigned to them. Today, the catch-phrase is to "accelerate, not remediate." When providing services for struggling readers, the goal must be to help them catch up to grade level as soon as possible.

  • Find time for reading instruction.

    Many schools are now experimenting with ways to squeeze extra time into the schedule for reading interventions, whether by taking time away from elective courses or by teaching reading early in the morning, after school, on the weekends, or over the summer. For example, ninth grade academies — providing intensive, accelerated reading instruction — have become popular, as has the scheduling of extra class periods for literacy instruction.

  • Think hard before investing in commercial programs.

    Over the last several years, commercial publishers have come forward with numerous intervention programs for struggling adolescent readers. However, while they tend to be expensive, those programs have scant evidence of effectiveness. Currently (as of the summer of 2009), the US Department of Education's Institute for Education Sciences is conducting rigorous, ongoing studies of a number of the most well-known interventions, but for the foreseeable future, buyers should beware.

  • Make sure that teachers have ongoing opportunities for professional development and discussion within their content areas.

    It takes time and effort for teachers of math, science, history, and other subjects to figure out how best to help students meet their disciplines' distinct literacy demands. At the secondary level, content area teachers have neglected reading and writing instruction for decades — in order to take on that job, and to learn how to do it well, they'll require meaningful, long-term professional development.

  • If your school has no reading specialist on staff, then consider investing in training for teachers and/or staff who are interested in becoming local leaders on the topic of reading assessment.

    For recommendations of good professional development programs and resources in your area, contact your school district, state department of education, or regional affiliate of the International Reading Association.

References

References

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ACT (2006). Reading between the lines: What the ACT reveals about college readiness in reading. Ames, IA: Author.

Bates, L., Breslow, N., and Hupert, N. (2009). Five states’ efforts to improve adolescent literacy (Issues & Answers Report, REL 2009–No. 067). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands.

Biancarosa, G., & Snow, C. (2006). Reading next: A vision for action and research in middle and high school literacy: A report to Carnegie Corporation of New York (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.

Graham, S. and Perin, D. (2007). Writing next. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.

Haynes, M. (2005). Reading at risk: How states can respond to the crisis in adolescent literacy. Alexandria, VA: National Association of State Boards of Education.

Heller, R. and Greenleaf, C.L. (2007, June). Literacy instruction in the content areas: getting to the core of middle and high school improvement. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.

National Association of Secondary School Principals. (2005). Creating a culture of literacy: A guide for middle and high school principals. Reston, VA: Author.

National Association of State Boards of Education.(2009). State Actions to Improve Adolescent Literacy: Results from NASBE's State Adolescent Literacy Network. Arlington, VA: Author.

National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). (2004). On Reading, Learning to Read, and Effective Reading Instruction: An Overview of What We Know and How We Know It. (NCTE Guidelines by the Commission on Reading). Urbana, IL: Author.

National Governors Association. (2005). Reading to achieve: A governor’s guide to adolescent literacy. Washington, DC: National Governors Association, Center for Best Practices.

Short, D. J., & Fitzsimmons, S. (2007). Double the work: Challenges and solutions to acquiring language and academic literacy for adolescent English language learners: A report to the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.

Southern Regional Education Board (2009). A critical mission: Making adolescent reading an immediate priority. Atlanta. GA: Author.

Torgesen, J. K., Houston, D. D., Rissman, L. M., Decker, S. M., Roberts, G., Vaughn, S., Wexler, J. Francis, D. J, Rivera, M. O., Lesaux, N. (2007). Academic literacy instruction for adolescents: A guidance document from the Center on Instruction. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction.

Boardman, A. G., Roberts, G., Vaughn, S., Wexler, J., Murray, C. S., & Kosanovich, M. (2008). Effective instruction for adolescent struggling readers: A practice brief. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction.

Boardman, A. G., Roberts, G., Vaughn, S., Wexler, J., Murray, C. S., & Kosanovich, M. (2008). Effective instruction for adolescent struggling readers: A practice brief. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction.

Hart, T., & Risley, B. (1995). Meaningful differences in the everyday experience of young American children. Baltimore, MD: Brookes.
Biemiller, A. (2006). Vocabulary development and instruction: A prerequisite for school learning. In S. Neuman and D. Dickinson (Eds.), Handbook of Early Literacy Research (Vol 2) (41-51). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Moje, E. B., et al. (2008). The complex world of adolescent literacy: Myths, motivations, and mysteries. Harvard Educational Review 78:107-154.
Wade, S. E., & Moje, E. B. (2000). The role of text in classroom learning. In Kamil, M., Mosenthal, P., Barr, R., & Pearson, P. D. (Eds.), The handbook of research on reading. (Volume III, pp. 609-627). Mahwah , NJ : Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Applebee, A., & Langer, J. (2006). The state of writing instruction in America’s schools: What existing data tell us. Albany, NY: Center on English Learning and Achievement.