All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
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Hot Topics in Adolescent Literacy


It's important to be aware of and understand the policies and general trends that affect schools and students. This section contains literacy-related research from the federal government, as well as research and position papers published by education associations and think tanks.


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Position Statement on Student Grade Retention and Social Promotion

In this statement, the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) identifies the characteristics of students more likely to be retained and the impact of retention at the secondary school level, late adolescence, and early adulthood. NASP also provides a long list of alternatives to retention and social promotion.

Recommendations for Research to Improve Reading Achievement for African American Students

This article includes research recommendations in the areas of standardized testing, teacher quality, after-school programs, parent involvement, reading and study skills, and computer games and simulations.

21st Century Literacies

Because success with technology depends largely upon critical thinking and reflection, teachers with relatively little technological skill can provide useful instruction. But schools must support these teachers by providing professional development and up-to-date technology for use in classrooms.

Making Writing Instruction a Priority in America's Middle and High Schools

Sometimes writing is seen as the flip side of reading, and it is assumed that students who are proficient readers will naturally be proficient writers. While reading and writing are complementary skills, students do not become skilled writers without explicit instruction. This policy brief from the Alliance for Excellent Education examines how writing can be taught in secondary schools and how policy can encourage more teachers to undertake writing instruction.

Reading Next

Millions of today's adolescents lack the reading skills demanded by today's world. The impending crisis — millions of under-literate young people unable to succeed economically and socially — requires an immediate response. This report outlines 15 key elements of effective adolescent literacy programs and recommends that schools use a mix of these elements, tailoring the combinations to the needs of individual students.

Tough Choices or Tough Times: The Report of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce

America's approach to education has lagged behind as industry and technology have continued to advance. To truly prepare students for the 21st century workforce, and to remain competitive in the global economy, the National Center on Education and the Economy has ten policy recommendations for America's schools.

Why the Crisis in Adolescent Literacy Demands a National Response

This policy brief from the Alliance for Excellent Education asserts that it makes little sense to create a strong foundation of reading in grades K-3 if there is no plan to build upon the foundation in later grades. The Alliance offers a series of federal policy recommendations, including the expansion of the Reading First program (K-3) to the upper grades, increased funding to help states use assessments with open-ended writing and analytic reading items, and increased flexibility for schools to schedule more time for reading and writing instruction.

Reading and Writing in the Academic Content Areas

This issue brief from the Alliance for Excellent Education looks at the role every middle and high school teacher must play to help older students become fully literate, and puts forth a four-part agenda for improving literacy in the content areas.

Sustaining Focus on Secondary School Reading: Lessons and Recommendations from the Alabama Reading Initiative

Alabama is unique in including an adolescent literacy focus in its statewide reading improvement efforts. This report from the National High School Center looks at the Alabama Reading Initiative and synopsizes 10 lessons learned in creating a K-12 continuum of reading instruction.

Demography as Destiny: How America Can Build a Better Future

Barely 50% of minority students graduate from high school on time. If this trend continues and the minority student populations increase as projected, the economic strength of the U.S. will be undermined. But if 78% of all student populations graduate on time by 2020, the U.S. can realize stunning potential benefits: conservatively, more than $310 billion would be added to the national economy.

The Evidence Suggests Otherwise: The Truth About Boys and Girls

The media has latched on to the story that American boys are falling behind girls academically and are increasingly outnumbered in college. But what do the numbers show? Referencing more than 30 years of test scores and current research, the author debunks the notion of a gender gap and demonstrates that gaps in educational achievement and attainment are less a function of gender than of racial and economic inequities.

Teach to the Test? Just Say No

It is possible for educators to make better choices about how and when to teach to the test than the alarmist newspaper articles and editorials would seem to suggest. This article from the Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement aims to help readers think beyond simple compliance with federal law or basic implementation of programs.

What Do Reading Comprehension Tests Measure? Knowledge.

The federal No Child Left Behind law requires more testing of students, and has spurred some frantic and ineffectual test preparation in many schools, says the author, E. D. Hirsch, Jr. Reading tests must use unpredictable texts to be accurate measures of reading ability, but if you cannot predict the subject matter on a valid reading test, how can you prepare students? Hirsch says you can't, and, therefore, you shouldn't try. The only useful way to prepare for a reading test is indirectly by becoming a good reader of a broad range of texts, an ability that requires broad general knowledge."

Strategies to Improve High Schools

Research suggests six reform strategies that may help high schools better prepare students for college-level work and the workforce: planning at the state and district levels; rigorous curricula; real-world relevant curricula; improving student relationships and personalization; improving transitions to 9th grade, college, and work; and data-driven decision-making. This article lists key actions and offers practical examples and additional resources.

No Child Left Behind: Determining Appropriate Assessment Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Assessment accommodations help people with learning disabilities display their skills accurately on examinations. Teachers, learn how to test the true knowledge of your students. Don't test their ability to write quickly if you want to see their science skills! Parents, these pointers will help you assure that your children are tested fairly.

Understanding Assessment Options for IDEA-eligible Students

The No Child Left Behind law requires each school test students in Reading/Language Arts & Math each year in grades 3-8, and at least once more in grades 10-12. In some cases, children eligible for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) services may be able to access testing accommodations or even alternate tests, but parents need to fully understand the implications and potential consequences of participation in the various testing options.

No Child Left Behind: Making the Most of Options for IDEA-eligible Students

If a Title I school repeatedly underperforms, federal law provides opportunities for students to change schools or obtain additional instructional support. This parent advocacy brief looks at the information parents of students with disabilities need to know and understand in order to maximize these options.

What Is Scientifically Based Research? A Guide For Teachers

Teachers can strengthen instruction and protect their students' valuable time in school by scientifically evaluating claims about teaching methods and recognizing quality research when they see it. This article provides a brief introduction to understanding and using scientifically based research.

Using Student Engagement to Improve Adolescent Literacy

For struggling adolescent readers, creating student interest is as vital as teaching language skills.

How to Know a Good Adolescent Literacy Program When You See One: Quality Criteria to Consider

Literacy programs seem to have sprung up everywhere, but how can you tell the good ones from the bad ones? This guide identifies the key elements to consider in evaluating adolescent literacy programs.

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