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NCTE Moves Forward with Professional Development Principles and NCLB Recommendations (The Council Chronicle, March 2007)

by Kent Williamson
NCTE Executive Director

The 2006 Annual Convention in Nashville not only boasted an outstanding educational program, it marked the culmination of months of work by the NCTE Executive Committee and staff on two major projects.

NCTE Principles of Professional Development and Launch of the Pathways for Advancing Adolescent Literacy

Starting in November 2005, the Executive Committee undertook a deep study of what the Council must achieve to advance the professional development of literacy educators. This study encompassed a survey of more than 1,600 members, expert advice from scholars outside of the organization (including, notably, Joellen Killion of the National Staff Development Council, Ann Liebermann of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Past President of the American Education Research Association), and careful evaluation of our capacity to develop national policy and new programming in support of literacy educators.

By the time the Executive Committee gathered for its pre-convention meeting, it had drafted Principles of Professional Development to guide future advocacy and outreach efforts and program development. With a strong focus on systematic support for sustained teacher learning, involvement of administrators, and development of communities of learners, the Principles statement earned unanimous approval. These principles are now being used to shape professional development programming for teachers of English language learners and a new teacher induction project, are being used as a foundation for expansion of the massively popular website, and will be interwoven into new materials for parents, policymakers, and community leaders.

The Executive Committee also established outreach goals for the Pathways to Teacher Learning project. This multi-modal professional development program is designed for use by individual teachers or local groups, and includes features that can be customized to provide access to research, commentary, lesson plans, and experts on local literacy instruction, questions, and concerns. It includes a professional practice portfolio tool, and will be supported by national online mentors and local learning leaders. Developed in content-themed modules, the Pathways for Advancing Adolescent Literacy module is now available (see details at end) and a program for teachers of English language learners is being developed in partnership with the State of New York Teacher Learning Centers Network.

Recommendations for Changes in No Child Left Behind

After months of careful research, consultation with literally thousands of ELA educators and other teacher/student advocacy groups, and investigation of the Reading First grants administration scandal, the Executive Committee approved five key changes to recommend to Congress as it considers reauthorization of the ESEA/No Child Left Behind Act. Taken together, these measures represent fundamental change in a law that many NCTE members have found to be ineffective in its current form.

Introducing NCTE’s Pathways for Advancing Adolescent Literacy

Based on the NCTE Principles of Effective Professional Development and the NCTE Principles of Adolescent Literacy Reform, we’ve developed Pathways for Advancing Adolescent Literacy, a yearlong professional development experience that focuses on building teacher knowledge to advance student success. Pathways connects teacher learning to student success through a series of sustained multi-modal learning opportunities that can help create a professional community for teachers across the disciplines.

How Does Pathways Work?


  • Examine inquiry questions to determine direction and priorities
  • Choose from research statements to determine the topics you want to explore with your team
  • Annotate and reflect upon your readings with the “My Notes” feature
  • Participate in discussion forums with your colleagues and nationally-recognized experts


  • Access “In the Classroom” resources that demonstrate what good practice looks like
  • Join online discussions with other teachers to talk about your experiences
  • Participate in online and face-to-face discussions with colleagues in your learning team
  • Participate in web seminars or listen to recordings from NCTE’s audio library of nationally recognized speakers
  • Read peer-reviewed publications on key topics


  • Use your ePortfolio to identify your personal or team professional development objectives
  • Log your experiences in your ePortfolio to maintain artifacts of your learning
  • Upload student work to help document specific professional development goals
  • Track your activities and progress with Pathways’ unique reporting tools

For more information, visit or email

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NCTE - The National Council of Teachers Of English

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