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Recommendation 1 for Policymakers

NCTE Literacy Education Advocacy Day
February 27, 2014

Note: This is the first of three recommendations for policymakers
(see also the second and third).

To improve conditions for student literacy learning in the United States, NCTE recommends that policymakers place the professional expertise of teachers and the complex elements of educational institutions at the center of decision making and assessment of educational outcomes. NCTE's three recommendations focus on professional learning, professional expertise, and uses of evidence in decision making about the effectiveness of colleges and universities.


1.    Professional learning defined as educator collaboration is key to quality in literacy instruction.

The basic conditions for being a professional in any field need to be applied to education, including time to compare practices and to reach shared agreements about those practices for the field. In education, continuous professional learning is mandatory because of changes in student populations, new discoveries about the way people learn, and new means of learning and sharing information, especially facilitated by technology.

Because literacy is central to all subject areas, teachers need to coordinate instruction for maximum student learning. The most powerful way to assure coordination of quality instruction is educator collaboration to learn from student work and to observe one another in practice. Protected time in the school week for collaboration is essential.

Evidence to support this contention about the need for protected time for collaboration is evident in a National Center for Literacy Education (NCLE) 2013 national survey about professional collaboration and standards implementation:

  • 73% of educators ranked "working with colleagues" as the most useful support for implementing the Common Core State Standards.
  • The amount of time teachers have to work together continues to shrink: from 2009 to 2013, the percentage of teachers having 30 minutes or less per week to collaborate rose from 12% to 36%, and the percentage of teachers having two hours or more hours per week to collaborate shrank from 41% to 18%. 
  • Teachers who participate in collaboration are better prepared to implement standards and are already making more changes in their teaching. Although only 48% of those who have not participated in collaboration report significant changes in how they teach literacy, 74% of those teachers who participate in collaboration report significant changes in their teaching of literacy.

Legislation and regulations regarding education and education funding should include protected time in the school week for educator collaboration under mandatory use of funds.


Association of American Colleges and Universities.  An Introduction to LEAP 

Connected Learning Coalition.  Assessment: A Fundamental Component of Learning.   

National Center for Literacy Education.  Remodeling Literacy Learning Together:  Path to Standards Implementation.   

National Council of Teachers of English.  2014 Education Policy Platform

National Council of Teachers of English.  Formative Assessment That Truly Improves Instruction

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NCTE - The National Council of Teachers Of English

A Professional Association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts