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Standards 2017: Learners and the Literate Environment

by April Hall
 | Mar 15, 2017

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.

Understanding how individual learners develop, and then creating a positive literacy learning environment to meet those developmental differences, is a vital piece of literacy education. Allison Swan Dagen, associate professor of Literacy Studies at West Virginia University, was the lead writer on Standard 5 and said her team's rewrite included expanding on the contextual factors that influence 21st-century learners.

    Allison Swan Dagen

Dagen said there are two major differences between the 2010 and 2017 revisions. First is the addition of the literacy learner. This means understanding both learner development and learner differences, not only for those who are having difficulties but also for students with typical and exceptional literacy achievement.

The second difference was an explicit focus of Standard 5 on digital technologies in the learning environment. There is no doubt that the last seven years has brought a flood of technology both in and out of the classroom. As research has indicated, technology is beneficial only if there is purpose and mindfulness of how that technology is used. "Our Standard 5 writing team approached this new standard with the strong belief that the content be anchored in meeting shifting needs of the 21st-century literacy learner," Dagen said. "We need specialists in schools who know how to collaborate with peers to integrate digital technologies in safe, appropriate, and effective ways in the classrooms."

She said this does not set aside printed materials, as they are equally important to meeting students' literacy needs.

The rest of the Standard is about creating a climate that addresses issues such as setting, grouping, and routines, including how learning can be both face-to-face and also occur in a virtual space.

"We want complete integration of technology and traditional media in the classroom," Dagen said. "We just need to look at the contextual factors that influences learning for all."

The writing team on Standard 5 was

  • Celia Banks, coordinator of language arts for K–6 programs, U-46 School District in Elgin, IL
  • Jill Castek, associate professor of Teaching, Learning, and Sociocultural Studies, University of Arizona
  • Jennifer Shettel, associate professor, Millersville University, PA

Remember to review the entire Standards 2017 when it is posted for open public comment on April 17 and be sure to make your voice heard.

April Hall was editor of Literacy Daily. A journalist for more than 20 years, she has specialized in education, writing and editing for newspapers, websites, and magazines.

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