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2009 Legislative Platform

Literacy education is a civil right and civic responsibility that is integral to building our nation’s capacity for economic success, innovation, and global leadership. It strengthens the voice of each citizen in our participatory democracy. To tap our full potential as writers, readers, inventors, communicators, and decision makers, NCTE calls upon Congress to invest in building a comprehensive 21st century literacy policy. We must move forward to apply the full range of what we know about literacy learning to help every student succeed academically and become an active participant in revitalizing our nation.


Today, the circumstances of families, communities, cities, states, and nations are changing irreversibly, so it is imperative that we invest in discovering and using knowledge about literacy learning to foster transformative solutions. The NCTE 2009 Legislative Platform calls upon Congress to take bold action to fund the policy innovations and research required to meet the unprecedented challenges and opportunities in our society. We must:


Improve accountability and assessment by taking collective responsibility for providing optimal conditions for learning in our education system. Congress can advance accountability by:

  • Funding the development of an accurate, in-depth portrait of student learning that includes formative assessment, student contribution to describing their own learning, and feedback from teachers and community members in the development of assessments

  • Calling upon the Department of Education to encourage states to employ assessment instruments that measure the breadth of student learning over time, including instruments sensitive to the particular needs of English Language Learners and students with disabilities

  • Supporting  schools’ ability to act upon assessment results by providing resources such as professional development for teachers and administrators, school and classroom libraries, differentiated intervention opportunities, tutoring, support staff, and parent/community outreach


Advance writing and reading as equal, interdependent components of literacy development. Since writing is an essential tool for full participation in 21st century global communications, NCTE recommends that Congress provide funding and support for:

  • Quality professional development about writing, writing assessment, and writing instructional methods across educational levels from early childhood through high school

  • Research about the impact of writing on early literacy development, that explores writing in 21st century environments, and that studies the impact of writing instruction on student achievement in multiple content areas including science, mathematics, and social studies

  • Instruction that includes writing strategies and applications that connect to the workplace


Invest in making every student proficient in 21st century literacies. In order to thrive in an increasingly interdependent, global society, students need to acquire the full range of 21st century literacies. As defined by NCTE, 21st century literacies include the ability to 1) Develop proficiency with the tools of technology; 2) Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally; 3) Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes; 4) Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information; 5) Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts; and 6) Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments. NCTE thus calls upon Congress to take four actions:

  • Require states to include 21st literacies in their state and district comprehensive literacy plans
  • Provide funding for professional development to assist teachers in the curriculum design and implementation of 21st century literacies in all disciplines
  • Provide funding for the development of assessments congruent with these literacies
  • Provide funding for research on the efficacy of 21st century literacies curriculum implementation and bridges between academic and out-of-school literacies


Increase the supply of outstanding teachers through systematic professional development. The single most important influence on student achievement is high quality teaching. Research shows that with sustained support, high quality literacy teachers develop over time.  Therefore, NCTE calls upon Congress to invest in state and local literacy plans that:

  • Provide time in the school day for teachers, literacy coaches, and administrators to participate in sustained professional development
  • Support professional development opportunities that allow for collaborations among teachers within and across schools to exchange practices that improve achievement
  • Address the unique needs of early career teachers including participation in teacher learning communities with peers and more experienced educators


Strengthen support for the youngest literacy learners (ages 0 – 5). Recognizing that literacy development begins at birth, NCTE recommends that Congress invest in comprehensive state and local literacy plans that:

  • Foreground literacy development in all early childhood programs and initiatives
  • Provide sustained professional development opportunities for early childhood teachers and child care providers
  • Encourage collaboration among teachers, childcare providers, and families to examine the ways very young children learn literacy in all settings


Improve support for English Language Learners (ELLs).  Research shows that English Language Learners achieve at a high level when their acquisition of English is bridged from their home language abilities. Thus, in order to help ELLs acquire the language proficiency needed for success in school, college, and the workplace, NCTE calls on Congress to:

  • Fund professional development for educators of English Language Learners in effective literacy practices that recognize and build on students’ home languages
  • Fund ELL programs that support students’ bi-lingual and transitional language development
  • Require states to provide developmentally and linguistically appropriate formative assessments


Establish a comprehensive literacy policy on the basis of evidence developed through scientifically valid research as defined in the Head Start Act and the Higher Education Act.   If we are to succeed in our quest to advance every literacy learner, policy must be grounded in the full range of valid research regarding writing, reading, and the literacies required for success in the 21st century.


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