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NCTE Position Statement

2010 Legislative Platform

Literacy education is a civil right and civic responsibility that is integral to building our nation’s capacity for participatory democracy, innovation, economic success, and global leadership. Consequently, we are collectively responsible for providing optimal conditions for learning in our education system. Each of us -- teachers, students, parents, administrators, community leaders, policymakers -- must take up the responsibility for providing every student with world-class educational opportunities. Indeed, when students are left unprepared for success in our society -- we are all accountable.

The existence of chronically underperforming schools in our midst is unacceptable and requires a comprehensive approach to revitalization. Literacy learning today is essential if students are to thrive in an increasingly interdependent, global society. We must move forward urgently and collectively to apply what we know about literacy learning to foster student success. The NCTE 2010 Legislative Platform calls upon policymakers to take bold action to fund the literacy policy innovations and research required to meet the unprecedented challenges and opportunities in our society. We must:

Provide for systematic professional development as an essential component of successful school reform. The single most important educational influence on student achievement is high-quality teaching. Research shows that with sustained support keyed to challenges and opportunities in local classrooms, literacy teachers become highly effective in advancing student learning. Therefore, NCTE calls on policymakers to invest in state and local literacy plans that:

  • Provide time in the school day for teachers, literacy coaches, school librarians, and administrators to create, plan, and participate in sustained professional development
  • Support professional development opportunities that allow for collaborations among teachers within and across schools to share practices that improve achievement
  • Address the unique needs of early career teachers including participation in teacher learning communities with peers and more experienced educators
  • Tap the rich experiences of veteran teachers and retired educators to enrich professional development planning
  • Enhance teachers’ understanding of how to take advantage of literacy assessments and related data to differentiate instructional approaches and reach every learner

Define teacher effectiveness as professional practice that:

  • Applies deep content knowledge
  • Uses pedagogical strategies and assessment strategies to enable diverse students to meet learning goals
  • Is characterized by continuous engagement in and application of professional learning
  • Includes participation in teacher learning communities to plan, assess, and improve instruction
  • Connects students’ in-school and out-of-school learning
  • Incorporates current technologies in learning and teaching
  • Engages parents and community members as partners in educating students
  • Uses evidence about student learning to improve instruction

Support a comprehensive literacy policy as described in the Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation (LEARN) Act that:

  • Requires a sustained investment in literacy learning and instruction from birth through grade 12
  • Demonstrates the interdependent and reciprocal relationship of reading and writing
  • Creates learning environments rich in books, media, technology, and literacy experiences
  • Requires instruction that is developmentally and contextually appropriate and meaningfully engages students
  • Empowers teachers to design and select formative assessments that assist them in making ongoing decisions about student learning and teaching
  • Recognizes the importance of literacy in the study of the humanities, mathematics, and sciences
  • Defines professional development as ongoing, job-embedded, and situated in communities of practice

 

Improve support for English Language Learners (ELLs).  Research shows that English Language Learners achieve at a high level when their acquisition of language and the development of their bi-literacy skills are bridged from their home language experiences. Policymakers, therefore, need to:

  • Set achievement expectations appropriately based upon research that shows the developmental rate of academic language acquisition takes between five and seven years
  • Fund professional development for all educators about ELLs and bi-literacy
  • Develop appropriate literacy programs for the diversity of ELLs, such as newcomers, immigrants, refugees, students with interrupted formal education, and long-term ELLs
  • Support programs that build upon the knowledge and skills of ELLs and bi-literate students to advance literacy for all students

Improve the quality and use of assessment in determining student achievement, teacher effectiveness, and school performance. To support this improvement policymakers should:

  • Fund the development of a balanced assessment system that includes and validates the use of formative assessment, performance-based assessment, growth models, and summative assessment to create a more in-depth portrait of student learning for the purposes of determining accountability
  • Create accountability measures that are developmentally, linguistically, and culturally sensitive to the particular needs of English Language Learners and students with disabilities
  • Make a sustained investment in community-based plans with contributions from students, teachers, parents, administrators, and community leaders to turn around chronically underperforming schools. These plans should include adequate time for learning and teaching while avoiding the burdensome over-testing of students

 

2/12/10

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