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    A Look Inside the Frameworks: Schools and Schooling

    By April Hall
     | Apr 12, 2016

    ILA developed Frameworks for Literacy Education Reform in response to today’s complex and evolving education landscape. With an increase in English learners, high-stakes testing, and digital technologies driving new modes of teaching and learning, challenges for the classroom teacher are mounting. The new white paper’s frameworks serve as a high-level rubric that school administrators and policymakers can use to create or assess reform proposals. In this blog series, we’ll take a closer look at each of the frameworks.

    9417_Literacy_Education_Reform coverSchools provide the physical and conceptual structure for a student’s first learning experience—from learning to recognize letters and read to expressing ideas through writing. Each child starts school with a different level of literacy skills based on a variety of factors and it’s up to schools and those who bring schools to life (teachers, principals, administrators, etc.) to help children meet their potentials. Schools need to acknowledge the diverse levels of students’ literacy through adaptable curriculum, accountability measures, and the quality of resources available there.

    Making quality curricula and materials that are developed for individual students at the local level available to every school is critical to student success. When those curricula and materials are used effectively, accountability measures can be put into place. These assessments should be transparent, ethical, and fair.

    “Unfortunately, there have been instances of unethical use of test scores in schools. Examples I have seen include making grading and/or retention decisions based on screening data and engaging students in extensive, direct test practice instead of instruction,” said Sharon Walpole, professor of education at the University of Delaware and lead writer on the schools section of Frameworks for Literacy Education Reform. “The same goes for outcomes. Policymakers who advocate only for absolute achievement rather than growth in achievement ignore the efforts of teachers in schools that struggle. Evaluations should look both at outcomes and at growth.”

    Walpole said having students practice tests repeatedly instead of teaching a strong curriculum is also a disservice to students.

    Schools should also incorporate technology into literacy curriculum, but judiciously and strategically. Students should be directed to evaluate information found online and could also use technology to help them both comprehend and compose, according to the frameworks.

    To realize these goals, schools must be a place where administrators are supported to interpret state and federal standards and accountability, where staff members are enabled and encouraged to make decisions for their students, and where principals are prepared to provide consistent professional development for teachers to reach literacy goals.

    “Schools and teachers have a responsibility to differentiate and to establish reasonable systems that use all available resources in as flexible a way as possible, taking advantage of assessments and providing additional instruction or additional challenge as soon as possible,” Walpole said. “Schools within districts, classes within schools, and students within classrooms may have different needs and should be treated differently, especially when it comes to resources.”

    The complete white paper, Frameworks for Literacy Education Reform, can be found here.

    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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    A Look Inside the Frameworks: Literacy Teaching and Teachers

    By April Hall
     | Apr 05, 2016

    ILA developed Frameworks for Literacy Education Reform in response to today’s complex and evolving education landscape. With an increase in English learners, high-stakes testing, and digital technologies driving new modes of teaching and learning, challenges for the classroom teacher are mounting. The new white paper’s frameworks serve as a high-level rubric that school administrators and policymakers can use to create or assess reform proposals. In this blog series, we’ll take a closer look at each of the frameworks.

    9417_Literacy_Education_Reform coverIf the classroom has a foundation, it is the teacher. Much is said about teacher preparation, about recruiting the right talent, and keeping talented teachers in the field. This framework focuses on what needs to be done to make literacy educators successful.

    Frameworks for Literacy Education Reform notes there must be more focus on literacy education at “every level of study during coursework and clinical practice.” This focus must also hone in on 21st-century strategies.

    Teachers’ education and development does not end, however, once they get into the classroom.

    D. Ray Reutzel, Dean of the College of Education, University of Wyoming, and co-chair of the white paper project, said one of the most important tools teachers need, from confidence to classroom strategies, is support from fellow teachers.

    “Once teachers get into the classroom, they’re often asked to disavow what they just learned in their training and it disturbs their equilibrium,” Reutzel said. “We haven’t taken seriously how we assign preservice internships, service, or alignment in order to prepare professionals.”

    He added that often student teachers are placed simply because a school is willing to take them in. And although more experienced teachers are prepared to teach children, they are not necessarily prepared to teach teachers. This is where a literacy coach is most useful.

    Continuous professional development is crucial to success in the classroom, the team of researchers noted, and an environment of collaboration and empowerment.

    A critical success factor for ongoing teacher support and development is implementing an evaluation system that focuses on having criteria that are consistent, systematic, and research based and that are implemented ethically and effectively.

    “There are an awful lot of teachers doing a good job and should be recognized and commended,” Reutzel said. “This paper is responding to critics of those who are not as effective in the classroom. The goal is for all teachers to be armed with the right tools to be successful literacy educators.”

    The complete white paper, Frameworks for Literacy Education Reform, can be found here.

    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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    ILA White Paper: Ground Instruction in Research, Not Politics

    By ILA Staff
     | Mar 29, 2016

    9417_Literacy_Education_Reform coverBy what criteria can any of the many current proposals for literacy education reform be considered sound? The question is crucial, as the future of the nation’s children is bound up in the quality of the education they receive. To provide a practical perspective on how to answer it, ILA has issued a new white paper entitled “Frameworks for Literacy Education Reform.”

    The central tenet of the white paper is that classroom literacy instruction should be grounded in rigorous, peer-reviewed research—not politics, ideology, or speculation. “Previous education policies have proven that there are no quick fixes to the challenges facing literacy education,” said D. Ray Reutzel, dean of the College of Education, University of Wyoming, and co-chair of the project team that produced the document.

    Rather than settling on a specific reform strategy, the white paper offers frameworks for use in drafting or evaluating reform proposals. The frameworks address four key education sectors: literacy learning and teachers; schools and schooling; student support; and families and communities.

    For each sector, the white paper offers a list of research-validated approaches to literacy advancement, which is designed to function as a rubric to inform, refine, and assess reform proposals. In addition, each framework includes a detailed list of supporting sources to facilitate exploration into the underlying research base.

    “Research is the differentiator between the reliable and the uncertain in literacy education reform,” said Heather Casey, associate professor, Rider University, the project team’s co-chair. “ILA’s white paper provides a reliable grounding from a research-based perspective.”

    ILA developed the white paper in response to today’s complex and evolving education landscape. With an increase in English learners, high-stakes testing, and digital technologies driving new modes of teaching and learning, challenges for the classroom teacher are mounting. The new white paper’s frameworks serve as a high-level rubric school administrators and policymakers can use to create or assess reform proposals.

    “We urge communities implementing literacy education reforms to be thoughtful in their approach and use this white paper as a guide to the many decisions that they will face,” said Reutzel. “And when a decision is made on a specific evidence-based approach, stay the course and create stability. It takes time to prepare teachers and have the right specialized literacy professional in place to make sustainable, effective changes.”

    In the coming weeks, Literacy Daily will delve deeper into the strategies for each of the education sectors.

     
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    Nominations For the ILA 2016 30 Under 30 List Are Open

    By ILA Staff
     | Mar 22, 2016

    The International Literacy Association (ILA) is seeking nominations for its second annual 30 Under 30 list. The list recognizes the literacy leaders of tomorrow—the innovators and disruptors, the visionaries and motivators—who are changing the face of literacy across the globe.

    “In 2015, we hand-selected 30 literacy champions from hundreds of nominees for the first-ever 30 Under 30 list. These honorees represent the next generation of literacy leaders who are already making a difference in literacy development around the world,” said Marcie Craig Post, ILA’s executive director. “We’re looking for 30 more literacy champions who are continuing to transform the literacy landscape.”

    Nominations are open to educators, administrators, authors, librarians, students, nonprofit leaders, politicians, technology experts, volunteers, and advocates who are under 30 years old (as of Nov. 1, 2016) and are making an extraordinary impact across their communities to advance literacy for all.

    If you or someone you know has shown exceptional commitment to advancing literacy, ILA invites you to complete a short form. All nominations must be received by May 16, 2016, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

    Each honoree will be featured in the September/October issue of Literacy Today, ILA’s bi-monthly magazine, and across ILA’s social channels. Each honoree will also receive a complimentary one-year ILA Online Membership and be recognized at the ILA 2017 Conference & Exhibits.

    The 30 Under 30 list debuted in 2015 to honor rising literacy champions around the globe. See the inaugural class here.
    Questions? E-mail 30under30@reading.org.

     
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    ILA Defines Unique Roles of School-Based Specialized Literacy Professionals

    by ILA Staff
     | Oct 08, 2015

    ThinkstockPhotos-80607869_x300The International Literacy Association (ILA) today issued a position statement based on recently published research from Rita Bean, which appeared in Literacy Research and Instruction, organizing school-based specialized literacy professionals into three distinct roles: reading/literacy specialists, literacy coaches, and literacy coordinators/supervisors. While responsibilities often overlap across these roles, there are specific distinctions in terms of the primary emphasis and professional qualifications required to be effective in each role.

    In the past, literacy specialists who worked with students, coaches who supported teachers, and supervisors who played an evaluative role at the school or within the district were often in a single position.

    “Our research findings indicated clear distinctions among the roles of these three types of literacy professionals,” said Bean, professor emerita in the University of Pittsburgh School of Education's Department of Instruction and Learning and lead investigator for the research that provided the foundation for ILA’s position statement and accompanying brief. “We also learned that the preparation they received did not ready them for these multiple roles.

    “While each role is distinct, our research showed a commonality among these roles—the ability to lead and inspire is required by every literacy leader,” Bean added. ILA’s position statement emphasizes this finding by noting that, regardless of role, “all specialized literacy professionals need leadership, facilitation, and communications skills to perform effectively.”

    Given the increasingly rigorous state standards, there is a tremendous need to help struggling students, support teachers in implementing these new standards, and provide ongoing evaluative insights to ensure that schools have the right resources to advance literacy.

    “Declining test scores across the country indicate the need for increased emphasis on quality literacy instruction. Students, teachers, and schools need the resources that specialized literacy professionals provide,” Bean said.

    ILA’s position statement and accompanying research brief provides school administrators with guidance on how to define the role of each specialty and to clarify what type of literacy professional their schools may need to hire. The descriptions aim to help those hiring literacy professionals to better understand what skill set is required and which qualifications to look for in the hiring process. Further, the new definitions will support college and university teaching programs in developing curricula to better prepare teachers for these specific literacy positions.

    Review the full report here.

     
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