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2013 NCTE Government Policy Platform

Students, teachers, administrators, community members, and policymakers are collectively responsible for ensuring that the literacy learning required to earn a living and lead a well-rounded life is available to all. To meet that responsibility, NCTE urges legislators to practice civil discourse by working through complex issues and arguing in the spirit of compromise—to commit more to negotiation than to control. Through productive bipartisan engagement by policymakers, schools can become richer learning environments, teachers accomplished professionals, and students engaged learners. Thus, we can make significant progress in raising our nation's capacity for innovation, economic success, and global leadership.

We can sustain improvement in our education system by fostering evidence-based teacher decision making, school innovation, and integration of learning opportunities across every student's daily life. Educators working in teams understand better how to teach the literacy practices needed for academic success in all content areas. To ensure that all students are college- and career-ready, we call upon policymakers at all levels to

Take into account the practices and conditions that foster success in literacy teaching and learning, support effective collaboration, and encourage innovation at the grassroots by

  • systematically involving and consulting with teachers in the process of implementing and assessing standards for student learning; 
  • supporting teachers in developing instruction that capitalizes upon cultural and linguistic diversity as resources; 
  • ensuring that new systems for assessing student learning are shaped by systematic collaboration with educators and by research describing measures that promote fidelity, integrity, and reliability in writing and reading assessments.

Invest in research, including case studies, surveys, interviews, and meta-analyses, to document the influence of recent initiatives and policy developments on literacy learning. Some areas of focus for research include

  • the impact of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) on literacy teaching and student learning; 
  • the influence of career-ready and workforce initiatives on writing instruction at two- and four-year colleges; 
  • the development of innovative and effective practices in formative assessmentthe relative merits and challenges associated with artificial intelligence and machine scoring in the assessment of student writing; 
  • the influence of reciprocity agreements and data sharing across state lines on teacher migration and the distribution of teachers to the schools and systems in highest need; 
  • the types of support systems created in teacher preparation programs and state departments of education for preservice and practicing teachers in response to CCSS; 
  • the impact on student equity and instructional contexts of waivers granted to states from No Child Left Behind requirements. In the interest of transparency, this work should be funded and disseminated by the US Department of Education.

Support the development of high-quality preparation of English language arts teachers by

  • utilizing high-quality professional standards that describe content area knowledge and that are evaluated through rigorous standards of peer review; 
  • assuring that evidence used to determine the effectiveness of literacy educator preparation programs is based on the latest knowledge in the field; 
  • ensuring that the costs of entering the teaching profession don’t bar the entry of promising candidates; 
  • maintaining consistent standards for the licensing of qualified English language arts teachers and ensuring that all students are taught by fully prepared teachers; 
  • recruiting and retaining a culturally, racially, and ethnically diverse pool of literacy teachers who reflect the characteristics of the students they teach;
  • supporting literacy teachers’ understanding of how best to promote equity and access for students with disabilities.

Invest in systematic and systemic team-based professional learning that builds teacher agency and preserves and enhances respect for the profession by

  • including teachers in planning professional learning that builds their capacity to meet the increasingly diverse literacy learning needs of students; 
  • providing time in the school day for teams to design and share goals and strategies, to strengthen decision making, and to reach and implement agreements that advance literacy learning in every content area; 
  • supporting teachers in out-of-district learning such as attendance at professional conferences, Web-based learning, periodical subscriptions, and book study groups. 

Support a comprehensive, cross-curricular basis for design and funding of legislation, such as the LEARN Act, and of programs, such as the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program, that

  • recognizes the role writing, reading, speaking, and listening play in developing sophisticated communication and argumentation skills; 
  • includes contextually appropriate curricula that meaningfully engage students in developing these literacies; 
  • assures equitable learning environments rich in a variety of instructional strategies, assessments, complex texts, and technologies;  encourages literacy learning experiences across content areas that foster
    • curiosity—the desire to know more about the world
    • openness—the willingness to consider new ways of being and thinking in the world 
    • engagement—a sense of investment and involvement in learning
    • creativity—the ability to use novel approaches for generating, investigating, and representing ideas
    • persistence—the ability to sustain interest in and attention to short- and long-term projects 
    • responsibility—the ability to take ownership of one's actions and understand the consequences of those actions for oneself and others 
    • flexibility—the ability to adapt to situations, expectations, or demands 
    • metacognition—the ability to reflect on one's own thinking as well as on the individual and cultural processes used to structure knowledge.*
  • supports content area literacy development and time for educators in different disciplines to collaborate and to coordinate instruction;
  • recognizes the interdependent and reciprocal role that literacy learning plays in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Preserve and enhance quality in a higher education system that sustains and increases student literacy and advances preparation for participation in society as productive citizens by

  • examining the extent to which fast-track credit programs may  weaken student learning, thereby compromising the mission of college/university programs; 
  • supporting eligible students with funding, such as the Pell Grant Program; 
  • enabling students to develop literacy to thrive in domestic and international markets; 
  • embracing the moral and ethical responsibility of preserving campuses as sites for the development of intellectual capital and the public good.

Support fair and responsible assessment policies that advance, not merely measure, learning by

  • advancing equity by ensuring that all students have access to vital digital tools not only for assessment but also for regular use in substantial literacy learning experiences; 
  • maximizing student learning time and providing sufficient data to monitor the progress of schools and systems by considering the adoption of testing schedules that do not test every student every year; 
  • supporting teachers as assessors of student learning in creating their own formative assessments and in making instructional decisions based on these assessments; 
  • funding professional learning to increase teachers’ assessment literacy and to provide time to analyze results of assessments for the purpose of improving student learning.


*Taken from the Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing (2011).

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