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Revised Standards for Literacy Professionals Draft Presented at ILA 2016

By April Hall
 | Jul 10, 2016

More than 100 educators were in attendance at a special session at the ILA 2016 Conference & Exhibits in Boston, MA, on Saturday to get the first look at a draft of the ILA Standards for Literacy Professionals 2017.

When all is said and done, the standards, which focus on the roles of reading/literacy specialists, literacy coaches, and literacy coordinators/supervisors, won’t be completed and approved until 2018, illustrating the long path to revision that includes meetings, drafts, public comment, and final approval.

Standards for Reading Professionals establishes criteria for reading professional preparation programs. The Standards describe what candidates for the reading profession should know and be able to do in professional settings. They are the result of a deliberative process that drew from professional expertise and research in the reading field.

Last year, a select committee made up largely of teacher educators, started on the 2017 revision of the Standards for Literacy Professionals, last revised in 2010. These standards, once reviewed and accepted by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), will become part of CAEP’s program evaluations.
Within the Foundational Knowledge standard, Helen Perkins from the University of Memphis and the lead writer on Standard 1, said one change was the definition of literacy as reading, writing, and communication, making it consistent with ILA’s definition, rather than the former reading-centric definition.

“All literacy professionals need to know where they came from and where they are going,” Perkins said.

When speaking about the second standard, lead writer Beverly DeVries from South Nazarene University in Oklahoma said a common theme of the revisions is the consideration of social, cultural, and linguistic diversity. The standards address not only the diversity of learners, but the diversity of strategies necessary to teach those learners.

Ginny Goatley from the University of Albany in New York, the lead writer on the third standard, addressing assessment and evaluation, said it’s important now to think broadly about literacy, particularly in early education when oral language is beginning to emerge. She also said the standard focuses on “the strong trend toward collaboration between teachers” and “how to talk about assessments.”

In the current standards, standard 4 focused primarily on “diversity,” said lead writer Doris Walker-Dalhouse of Marquette University in Wisconsin. The proposed revision also considers “equity,” which speaks not only about the make-up of classrooms and the materials used, but also the use of “instruction that is relevant and sensitive to individual literacy needs and embraces their diversity as an asset.”

Standard 5 in the 2010 revision was known as “Literate Environment.” In the current proposal it is called “Literacy Learners & the Learning Environment.”

Allison Swan Dagen, from West Virginia University, was the lead writer on  revised Standard 5. “Mainly, it is foregrounded in the notion that we need to meet the needs of the digital learner and a firm foundation of language and literacy development.”

Jacey Ippolito, the lead writer on the final of the drafted revisions, Standard 6/“Professional Learning & Leadership”, said he believes this standard supports all of the others.

For example, “literacy professionals require a wide variety of ongoing learning experiences—to acquire, refine, and develop the mindsets that enable them to share literacy-focused instructional skills and practices.”

Finally, once drafted, a new Standard 7 will address clinical and field experiences for literacy professionals. To add this standard to the revisions, the committee had to apply for a waiver from CAEP, Kern said, which allowed it under the condition that professionals could complete their work in their own schools and that the standard would not apply to classroom teachers.

Kern said changes were being made to the draft as recently as two days prior to the presentation and revisions will continue until they are submitted to CAEP in July 2017.

In attendance at the Conference presentation of the standards draft were college professors, district administrators, and teachers. After each lead writer summarized the changes to each of the standards, the audience broke into smaller groups to discuss what they thought of the revisions at first blush. Questions and comments were collected on index cards and submitted to the committee.

Kern said the cards would be reviewed and she expected they would inform additions to the Standard Revision FAQ.

The draft standards can be found on the ILA website, along with an opportunity to provide feedback. The survey will be online until July 31.

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

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