All About Adolescent Literacy

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

A teacher's education never ends. New research, state standards, and curriculum changes require teachers who are informed, energized, and responsive. Learn the characteristics of excellent reading teachers, as well as the knowledge and skills required to teach reading effectively.


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Summary of 20 years of research on the effectiveness of adolescent literacy programs and practices

Herrera, S., Truckenmiller, A. J., and Foorman, B. R. (2016). Summary of 20 years of research on the effectiveness of adolescent literacy programs and practices (R EL 2016–178). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast.

This literature review searched the peer-reviewed studies of reading comprehension instructional practices conducted and published between 1994 and 2014 and summarizes the instructional practices that have demonstrated positive or potentially positive effects in scientifically rigorous studies employing experimental designs. Each study was rated by the review team utilizing the What Works Clearinghouse standards. The review of the literature resulted in the identification of 7,144 studies. Of these studies, only 111 met eligibility for review. Thirty-three of these studies were determined by the study team to have met What Works Clearinghouse standards. The 33 studies represented 29 different interventions or classroom practices. Twelve of these studies demonstrated positive or potentially positive effects. These 12 studies are described and the commonalities among the studies are summarized.

Teaching Secondary Students to Write Effectively

Graham, S., Bruch, J., Fitzgerald, J., Friedrich, L., Furgeson, J., Greene, K., Kim, J., Lyskawa, J., Olson, C.B., & Smither Wulsin, C. (2016). Teaching secondary students to write effectively (NCEE 2017-4002). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE), Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from the NCEE website: http://whatworks.ed.gov.

This practice guide presents three evidence-based recommendations for helping students in grades 6–12 develop effective writing skills. Each recommendation includes specific, actionable guidance for educators on implementing practices in their classrooms. The guide also summarizes and rates the evidence supporting each recommendation, describes examples to use in class, and offers the panel’s advice on how to overcome potential implementation obstacles. This guide is geared towards administrators and teachers in all disciplines who want to help improve their students’ writing.

Adolescent Literacy Resources: Linking Research and Practice

Meltzer, J., Cook Smith, N. and Clark, H. Adolescent Literacy Resources: Linking Research and Practice. Retrieved Oct. 22, 2007, from http://www.alliance.brown.edu/pubs/adlit/alr_lrp.pdf.

This book from the Education Alliance at Brown University reviews relevant research from the past 20 years and describes the implications for instruction, curriculum, school structure, professional development, and assessment.

The Literacy Coach: A Key to Improving Teaching and Learning in Secondary Schools

Sturvent, E.G. (2003). The Literacy Coach: A Key to Improving Teaching and Learning in Secondary Schools. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.

A literacy coach is a master teacher who provides essential leadership for a school’s overall literacy program. This report, from the Alliance for Excellent Education and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, examines the role of the literacy coach and demonstrates why more of these coaches are needed in secondary schools to provide leadership for school-wide reading efforts. Leadership areas for coaches include attending meetings and professional development sessions to bring information and ideas back to their school; providing guidance to content-area teachers in teaching literacy; provide expertise to reading teachers; developing and administrating quality assessment systems; and liaising with stakeholders (school administrators, teachers, policymakers, university experts, community members) to help them understand the school’s literacy program and brainstorm solutions to problems. The report provides program examples, and looks at some pathways for becoming a school-based literacy specialist.

Improving Literacy Instruction in Middle and High Schools: A Guide for Principals

Torgesen, J., Houston, D., & Rissman, L. (2007). Improving literacy instruction in middle and high schools: A guide for principals. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction.

When principals are school literacy leaders, reading outcomes improve for middle and high school students. This guide from the Center on Instruction outlines the elements of school-level planning and leadership found in successful schools. It emphasizes three areas: leadership activities, the use of data to guide instruction, and appropriate and effective instructional materials.


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