Curriculum & Instruction
We now know a lot about effective adolescent literacy instruction, including how to identify at-risk children and how to intervene effectively. The articles in this section offer information on what effective instruction looks like — in the classroom, throughout a school, and district-wide.
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A Cognitive Strategies Approach to Reading and Writing Instruction for English Language Learners in Secondary School
Copyright 2007 by the National Council of Teachers of English. Used with permission. Olson, C.B. and Land, R. (2007). A Cognitive Strategies Approach to Reading and Writing Instruction for English Language Learners in Secondary School. Research in the Teaching of English, 41(3), http://www.ncte.org/pubs/journals/rte/articles/126617.htm.
A Description of Foundation Skills Interventions for Struggling Middle-Grade Readers in Four Urban Northeast and Islands Region School Districts
Zorfass, J., & Urbano, C. (2008). A description of foundation skills interventions for struggling middle-grade readers in four urban Northeast and Islands Region school districts (Issues & Answers Report, REL 2008-No. 042). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast & Islands. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs.
This study, conducted during the 2006-07 academic year, describes how four mid-size urban school districts in the Northeast and Islands Region—Worcester, Massachusetts; Nashua, New Hampshire; Yonkers, New York; and Providence, Rhode Island, conducted foundation skills assessments and provided foundation skills programs to struggling middle-grade readers.
The study identifies six factors that, according to the district representatives interviewed, can promote or hinder program implementation:
- Building on the federal Reading First initiative by expanding selected aspects of the program to upper elementary and middle grades,
- Using Response-to-Intervention and three-tier reading models,
- Fostering collaboration among relevant departments and programs,
- Recruiting highly qualified teachers in relevant areas,
- Solving problems of time and scheduling, and
- Ensuring that programs are carried out as designed.
Academic Literacy Instruction for Adolescents
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.
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.
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.
Beating the Odds: How Thirteen NYC Schools Bring Low-Performing Ninth Graders to Timely Graduation and College Enrollment
Ascher, Carol and Maguire, Cindy. (2007). Beating the Odds: How Thirteen NYC Schools Bring Low-Performing Ninth Graders to Timely Graduation and College Enrollment. Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University.
Cities in Crisis 2009: Closing the Graduation Gap
Swanson, Christopher B. Copyright © 2009 by Editorial Projects in Education Inc. All rights reserved.
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.
Effective Instruction for Adolescent Struggling Readers: A Practice Brief
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.
Effective Literacy Instruction for Adolescents
Alvermann, D.E. (2001). Effective Literacy Instruction for Adolescents. Oak Creek, WI: National Reading Conference.
How High Schools Become Exemplary: Ways that Leadership Raises and Narrows Gaps by Improving Instruction in 15 Public High Schools
Ronald F. Ferguson, Sandra Hackman, Robert Hanna, and Ann Ballantine, June 2010. How High Schools Become Exemplary: Ways that Leadership Raises Achievement and Narrows Gaps by Improving Instruction in 15 Public High Schools. Report on the 2009 Annual Conference of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University. Available for download at http://www.agi.harvard.edu.
This report from the Achievement Gap Initiative (AGI) at Harvard University looks at 15 outstanding public high schools from Massachusetts, Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, Texas, and Washington, D.C. These high schools were featured at the fifth annual conference of the AGI in June 2009, where teams from each school made presentations and then faced questioning from experts about the methods by which they had achieved progress, such as high value-added test score gains on statewide assessment tests and narrowing test-score achievement gaps. The main lesson from the presentations was that student achievement rose when leadership teams focused on improving instruction. Leaders took public responsibility for raising achievement, and stakeholders drafted mission statements to help schools stay on track. Schools carefully organized learning experiences for teachers, and clearly defined criteria for high-quality teaching and student work in ways that engaged entire faculties. As leaders implemented plans, schools monitored student and teacher work to continuously refine approaches. Leadership teams demonstrated commitment through hard work and long hours, studying research-based literature to expand knowledge and competence, and found ways to remain respectful of peers, even when asking them to improve their performance. In these ways, leadership teams earned the respect of their colleagues and gained authority to push people outside their comfort zones.
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.
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.
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.
The Enhanced Reading Opportunities Final Report: The Impact of Supplemental Literacy Courses for Struggling Ninth Graders
Somers, M.A., Corrin, W., Sepanik, S., Salinger T., Levin, J., and Zmach, C. (2010). The Enhanced Reading Opportunities Final Report: The Impact of Supplemental Literacy Courses for Struggling Ninth-Grade Readers Executive Summary (NCEE 2010-4022). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.
The Enhanced Reading Opportunities (ERO) demonstration evaluated two supplemental literacy programs — Reading Apprenticeship Academic Literacy (RAAL) and Xtreme Reading (XR) — targeted to ninth grade students whose reading skills were at least two years below grade level. Over two years, about 6,000 eligible students in 34 high schools from 10 districts were randomly assigned to enroll in the year-long ERO class or remain in a regularly scheduled elective class (non-ERO group). At the end of 9th grade, both groups were assessed using a standardized, nationally normed reading test, and participated in surveys about their reading activities and behaviors. School records were used to examine the effect of the literacy programs on academic performance during the program year (9th grade) and a year afterwards.
- Taken together, the ERO supplemental literacy programs improved students' reading comprehension skills during the 9th grade, corresponding to an improvement from the 23rd to the 25th percentile. However, 77% of students assigned to the ERO class were still reading 2 or more years behind grade level at the end of the 9th grade.
- During the 9th grade, the ERO program also had a positive impact on students' academic performance in core subject areas, including their grades and credit accumulation. Students in the ERO group scored higher on their states' English/Language Arts and mathematics assessment than did those in the non-ERO group.
- The ERO program effects did not continue beyond the program year. While there were statistically significant and positive impacts on students' GPA, credit accumulation and state test scores in 9th grade, the impacts were not significant the following school year. When analyzed separately, the RAAL program significantly improved students' reading comprehension during the 9th grade year while the XR program did not have a statistically significant impact on reading comprehension. Impacts on other outcomes were similar for the two programs.
The Enhanced Reading Opportunities Study: Early Impact and Implementation Findings
Kemple, J., Corrin, W., Nelson, E., Salinger, T., Herrmann, S., and Drummond, K. (2008). The Enhanced Reading Opportunities Study: Early Impact and Implementation Findings (NCEE 2008-4015). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.
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.