|J. Helen Perkins
A draft of ILA’s eagerly awaited Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals 2017 (Standards 2017) will be available for public comment from April 17 to May 8. In the weeks leading up to the public comment period, we’ll take a look at the significant changes proposed in Standards 2017, which will be submitted for Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) approval in fall 2017 and published in early 2018. Once approved by CAEP, ILA’s new set of seven standards will become the ruler by which preparation programs for literacy professionals, specifically reading/literacy specialists, are measured.
Standard 1 in ILA’s Standards 2017 addresses “foundational knowledge,” or the role of theoretical and evidence-based foundations of reading, writing, and communication in the preparation of literacy professionals. J. Helen Perkins, associate professor at the University of Memphis and lead writer on Standard 1, said her team didn’t approach the standard as an expansion from Standards 2010 but rather as a rewrite to include the latest research in the field. The Standard 1 writing team also included the following:
- Anne McGill-Franzen, professor and director of the Reading Center, University of Tennessee
- Jeanne Schumm, professor emerita, University of Miami
- Vicky Zygouris-Coe, professor of Education, University of Central Florida
“The Standard is much more rigorous, and there are high expectations that require a deeper understanding of literacy access and acquisition,” Perkins said.
She noted that the writing team gave a lot of consideration to reciprocity, or the idea that when students improve in reading, other communications will improve in turn. Perkins emphasized that Standard 1 now requires literacy professionals to not only have the knowledge base but also be able to demonstrate that knowledge.
Perkins shared that Standard 1 now has a focus on multimodal literacy, which wasn’t even addressed in Standards 2010. She noted, “Students are reading and writing in completely different ways now.”
She said of the Standards 2017 drafting process that she enjoyed the collaborative work with the other writing teams and learned a lot within her own team. In two years of conference calls and virtual work sessions, the Standard 1 team compiled an extensive list of research sources. Significant effort went into examining that list and determining what was really relevant to foundational knowledge. “Whatever we were putting into Standard 1 was very clearly research-based,” Perkins said. “I think the product will be well worth the labor we put into this.”
Peruse the entire Standards 2017 draft when it is posted for open public comment on April 17 and be sure to have your voice heard.
April Hall is editor of Literacy Daily. A journalist for more than 20 years, she has specialized in education, writing and editing for newspapers, websites, and magazines.