The NCTE 2011 Legislative Platform calls upon policymakers to take bold action to fund the literacy policy innovations and research required to prepare students for full participation in an interdependent, global society.
We are collectively responsible for providing optimal conditions for literacy learning in our education system. In addition to the specific recommendations below, we call on elected leaders to address the pernicious influence of poverty on learning. We call on teachers, parents, administrators, and community members to provide appropriate wrap-around services for students and to engage in purposeful collaborations so that substantive progress for all students can be achieved. Indeed, we are all accountable for students’ access to well-rounded educational opportunities, birth through university.
To advance literacy learning, we must:
Use teaching teams as the basic unit for decision making at the local and district level. Working in teams allows educators to design and share goals and strategies, strengthens the foundation for informed decision making, and contributes to participation in more broadly based communities of practice. Teaching teams bring together teachers, administrators, and other educators to:
- Develop and assess curricula.
- Assess and become more knowledgeable about student learning.
- Design and support activities that enhance professional practice.
- Apply cross-disciplinary perspectives to curriculum design, assessment, and professional growth.
- Conduct collective inquiry into the learning and teaching environment.
- Connect to parents and the community.
Provide for systematic professional development as an essential component of successful school reform. Teachers who have opportunities for quality professional development are best able to help students learn. Therefore, NCTE calls on policymakers to invest in state and local literacy plans that:
- Provide time in the school day for teaching teams to create, plan, and participate in sustained professional development.
- Support professional development opportunities that allow for teacher collaboration within and across grade levels to share and analyze practices that improve achievement.
- Address the unique needs of early-career teachers.
- Include teachers when planning professional development so that it aligns with the distinctive needs of their students.
Define teacher effectiveness as professional practice that:
- Uses deep content knowledge, effective pedagogy, and authentic formative assessments to engage students and help them learn.
- Connects students’ in-school and out-of-school learning.
- Incorporates appropriate technologies in learning and teaching.
- Includes sustained, engaged participation in teaching teams to plan, assess, and improve instruction and student learning.
- Engages parents and community members as partners in educating students.
- Uses qualitative as well as quantitative data to improve learning and teaching.
- Involves sustained reflection upon learning and teaching.
Support a comprehensive literacy policy as presently 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.
- Supports systematic, contextualized instruction informed by teaching teams.
- 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.
Create a transition plan for accountability as we move away from ineffective policies that over-emphasize testing toward more effective practices that support student learning and school improvement. To support this transition, policymakers should:
- Place a moratorium on testing required under NCLB guidelines and on AYP sanctions.
- Support local teaching teams in developing curricula, strategies, and assessments designed to advance student learning.
- Support local teaching teams in developing teacher evaluation procedures keyed to the elements of teacher effectiveness.
- Ensure that accountability measures are developmentally, linguistically, and culturally sensitive to the particular needs of English language learners and students with disabilities.
- Fund professional development for interpreting assessment data, using data to make instructional decisions, and developing formative and performance-based classroom assessments.