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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A Critical Mission: Making Adolescent Reading an Immediate Priority in SREB States
Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). (2009). A critical mission: making adolescent reading an immediate priority in SREB states. Atlanta, GA: Author.
This report from the nonprofit Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) urges states to develop comprehensive adolescent literacy policies that establish improvement in middle grades and high school reading and writing as the most immediate critical priority for public schools.
- Identify the specific reading skills students need to improve their achievement in key academic subjects.
- Change the curricula to include the reading skills identified as crucial for students in each subject.
- Help teachers share subject-specific reading strategies with students.
- Assist struggling readers so that those who are behind can catch up before they become likely high school dropouts.
- Call for state education agencies to work with local school systems to make sure these changes begin to take place and that every educator knows higher reading skills are the top priority in public education.
America's Perfect Storm: Three Forces Changing Our Nation's Future
Kirsch, I., Braun, H., Yamamoto, K., and Sum, A. Copyright ©2007 by Educational Testing Service.
An Inequitable Invitation to Citizenship: Non-College-Bound Youth and Civic Engagement
Zaff, J., Youniss, J., & Gibson, C. (2009). An inequitable invitation to citizenship: non-college-bound youth and civic engagement. Washington, DC: Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE).
Barriers to College Attainment: Lessons from Chicago
Nagoka, J., Roderick, M. & Coca, V. (2009). Barriers to college attainment: lessons from Chicago. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress
Cities in Crisis 2009: Closing the Graduation Gap
Swanson, Christopher B. Copyright © 2009 by Editorial Projects in Education Inc. All rights reserved.
College-Ready Students, Student-Ready Colleges: An Agenda to Improve Degree Completion
Soares, L. & Mazzeo, C. (2008). College-ready students, student-ready colleges: an agenda for improving degree completion in postsecondary education.
Developing Early Warning Systems to Identify Potential High School Dropouts
Hepper, J. and Therriault, S.B. (2008). Developing Early Warning Systems to Identify Potential High School Dropouts. Washington, D.C.: National High School Center.
Double the Work: Challenges and Solutions to Acquiring Language and Academic Literacy for Adolescent English Language Learners
Short, D., & Fitzsimmons, S. (2007). Double the Work: Challenges and solutions to acquiring language and academic literacy for adolescent English language learners– A report to Carnegie Corporation of New York. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.
Five States' Efforts to Improve Adolescent Literacy
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. Retrieved from http://ies. ed.gov/ncee/edlabs.
From State Policy to Classroom Practice: Improving Literacy Instruction for All Students
Haynes, M. From State Policy to Classroom Practice: Improving Literacy Instruction for All Students. Washington, D.C.: National Association of State Boards of Education
High Schools as Launch Pads: How College-Going Culture Improves Graduation Rates in Low-Income Schools
College Summit. (2008).High Schools as Launch Pads: How College-Going Culture Improves Graduation Rates in Low-Income Schools. Washington, DC: Author.
Improving Academic Preparation for College: What We Know and How State and Federal Policy Can Help
Chait, Robin and Andrea Venezia. (2009). Improving Academic Preparation for College: What We Know and How State and Federal Policy Can Help. Washington, D.C.: Center for American Progress.
Improving Literacy Outcomes for ELLs in High School: Considerations for States and Districts in Developing a Coherent Policy Framework
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.
Literacy Instruction in the Content Areas: Getting to the Core of Middle and High School Improvement
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.
Over the last several years, a strong coalition of educators, researchers, policymakers, professional associations, and advocacy groups has worked to focus the attention of policymakers and the public on the plight of millions of America's students in grades four through twelve who are unable to read and write well enough to achieve academic success. Already, the efforts of those organizations and individuals have resulted in a wide range of local, state, and federal initiatives designed to help struggling students develop the reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills they need to move beyond the basic mechanics of literacy and move ahead in the secondary school curriculum.
But if students are to be truly prepared for college, work, and citizenship, they cannot settle for a modest level of proficiency in reading and writing. Rather, they will need to develop the advanced literacy skills that are required in order to master the academic content areas—particularly the areas of math, science, English, and history.
Inasmuch as the academic content areas comprise the heart of the secondary school curriculum, content area literacy instruction must be a cornerstone of any movement to build the high-quality secondary schools that young people deserve and on which the nation's social and economic health will depend.
In order to integrate reading and writing instruction successfully into the academic disciplines, district, state, and federal policymakers must ensure that
- They define the roles and responsibilities of content area teachers clearly and consistently, stating explicitly that it is not those teachers' job to provide basic reading instruction.
- Members of every academic discipline define the literacy skills that are essential to their content area and which they should be responsible for teaching.
- All secondary school teachers receive initial and ongoing professional development in teaching the reading and writing skills that are essential to their own content areas.
- School and district rules and regulations, education funding mechanisms, and state standards and accountability systems combine to give content area teachers positive incentives and appropriate tools with which to provide reading and writing instruction.
For policymakers, the challenge is no longer just to call attention to the nation's adolescent literacy crisis. Nor is it just to secure new resources to help middle and high school students catch up in reading, although the need for those resources remains critical. The challenge is also to connect the teaching of reading and writing to the rest of the secondary school improvement agenda, treating literacy instruction as a key part of the broader effort to ensure that all students develop the knowledge and skill they need to succeed in life after high school.
Making College and Career Readiness the Mission for High Schools: A Guide for State Policymakers
Achieve & The Education Trust. (2008). Making College and Career Readiness the Mission for High Schools: A Guide for State Policymakers. Washington, DC: Author.
Meeting Five Critical Challenges of High School Reform: Lessons from Research on Three Reform Models
Quint, J. (2006). Meeting Five Critical Challenges of High School Reform: Lessons from Research on Three Reform Models. New York: MDRC.
Now What? Imperatives & Options for "Common Core" Implementation & Governanace
Finn, C.E. & Petrilli, M.J. Now what? imperatives & options for Common Core" implementation & governance. (2010). Washington: D.C.: Fordham Foundation.
Prioritizing the Nation's Dropout Factories
With the nation in the midst of a dropout crisis that costs more than $335 billion in lost wages for each class of dropouts, a brief from the Alliance for Excellent Education calls on federal policymakers to perform “legislative triage” by devoting attention to the lowest-performing high schools and immediately improving or replacing the most severely “injured” schools.
The brief, Prioritizing the Nation’s Dropout Factories: The Need for Federal Policy That Targets the Lowest-Performing High Schools, includes a state-by-state breakdown of dropout factories and the percent of high schools students who attend them.
Promoting Quality: State Strategies for Overseeing Dual Enrollment Programs
Lowe, A.I. (2010). Promoting quality: State strategies for Overseeing dual enrollment programs. Chapel Hill, NC: National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships.
Raising Graduation Rates in an Era of High Standards
Steinberg, Adria, and Almeida, Cheryl A., (2008). Raising Graduation Rates in an Era of High Standards. Boston, MA: Jobs for the Future.
This report from Jobs for the Future suggests five reforms that state-level policymakers should implement to improve high school graduation rates and to align graduation standards with the demands of college and career.
Reading at Risk: The State Response to the Crisis in Adolescent Literacy
NASBE Study Group on Middle and High School Literacy. (2005). Reading at Risk: The State Response to the Crisis in Adolescent Literacy. Alexandria, VA: National Association of State Boards of Education.
Reading First Impact Study: Interim Report
Gamse, B.C., Bloom, H.S., Kemple, J.J., Jacob, R.T., (2008). Reading First Impact Study: Interim Report (NCEE 2008-4016). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.
This report sheds some light on the impact of the federal Reading First program. The evaluation, completed by the National Center for Education Evaluation (NCEE), suggests that as a result of Reading First, more class time is spent on the five components of reading, but, on average across the 18 study sites, Reading First did not have statistically significant impacts on student reading comprehension test scores in grades 1-3.
Reading for Understanding: Toward an R&D Program in Reading Comprehension
Snow, C.E. (2002). Reading for understanding: toward a research and development program in reading comprehension. Santa Monica: RAND.
This RAND Corporation report, undertaken at the request of the Education Department, suggests a national research agenda addressing the most pressing issues in literacy over the next 10 years. High on the list of priorities is research into instruction, teacher preparation, and assessment.
Biancarosa, C., & Snow, C. E. (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, D.C.: Alliance for Excellent Education.
Reading to Achieve: A Governor's Guide to Adolescent Literacy
National Governor's Association. (2005). Reading to Achieve: A governor's guide to adolescent literacy. Washington, DC: National Governor's Association, Center for Best Practices.
Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma that Counts
Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2004, Achieve, Inc. Retrieved Oct. 17, 2007 from http://www.achieve.org/node/552.
Relationships, Rigor and Readiness: Strategies for Improving High Schools
Quint, J., Thompson, S.L. and Bald, M. (2008). Relationships, Rigor and Readiness: Strategies for Improving High Schools. New York, NY: MDRC.
- Creating an environment in which students feel that teachers and other adults know them and care about them;
- Ensuring that classes for students who begin at all levels of academic achievement are supportive, engaging, and demanding; and
- Giving all students the guidance and assistance they need to plan for their future after high school.
Rigor at Risk: Reaffirming Quality in the High School Core Curriculum
ACT. (2007). Rigor at Risk: Reaffirming Quality in the High School Core Curriculum. Retrieved Nov. 5. 2007, from http://www.act.org/path/policy/pdf/rigor_report.pdf.
State Actions to Improve Adolescent Literacy: Results from NASBE's State Adolescent Literacy Network
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.
Still At Risk: What Students Don't Know, Even Now
(2008) ©Common Core. All rights reserved.
This report reveals some damning statistics about U.S. teens' lack of knowledge of history and culture. For example, one-third do not know that the Bill of Rights guarantees the freedom of speech and religion and forty-four percent think The Scarlet Letter was either about a witch trial or a piece of correspondence.
The authors' attribute much of this ignorance to a curriculum focused on basic reading and math skills and preparation for high-stakes testing, but parental educational also has an impact on student knowledge-students with a college-educated parent scored significantly better than those without.
The Challenge of Scaling Up Educational Reform: Findings and Lessons from First Things First
Quint, J., Bloom, H.S., Black, A.R., Stephens, L. and Akey, T.M. (2006). The Challenge of Scaling Up Educational Reform: Findings and Lessons from First Things First. New York: MDRC.
This MDRC report looks at the results of the comprehensive school reform model First Things First (FTF). FTF is characterized by smaller learning communities, a family advocate system in which a school staff member is paired with the student, and organized instructional improvement efforts to make classes more engaging and rigorous. The model was launched in Kansas City, Kansas, and later tested in 12 middle and high schools in four additional districts. While academic outcomes improved substantially in Kansas City, the results in the other four districts were less consistent.
The Federal Role in Confronting the Crisis in Adolescent Literacy
Alliance for Excellent Education. (2010). The federal role in confronting the crisis in adolescent literacy. Washington, D.C.: Author.
The Proficiency Illusion
Cronin,J., Dahlin, M., Adkins, D., Kingsbury, G.G. (2007). The Proficiency Illusion. Washington, DC: Thomas B. Fordham Foundation.
To Read or Not To Read
National Endowment for the Arts. (2007). To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence. Washington, DC: Author.