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Report Examines Five (More) States’ Efforts to Improve Adolescent Literacy

Five States’ Efforts to Improve Adolescent Literacy is a new report prepared for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) by the Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands that examines what Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, New Jersey, and Rhode Island did to promote effective adolescent literacy practices in schools and districts.

The report looks at how each state engaged key stakeholders, set rigorous goals and standards, aligned resources to support adolescent literacy goals, built educator capacity, and used data to measure progress. It also includes a case study for each state showing how state educators and policymakers tailored their policy strategies to the state’s needs.

Five States’ Efforts highlights common challenges and insights into how states used five strategies to support their adolescent literacy improvement policies. Specifically, it examines how each state 1) engaged key stakeholders to make adolescent literacy a priority; 2) set rigorous state literacy goals and standards, with other state policies aligned to support them; 3) aligned resources to support adolescent literacy goals; 4) built educator capacity to support adolescent literacy programs at state, school, and classroom levels; and 5) measured progress and used data to make decisions and provide oversight.

In addition to these challenges, representatives from each state offered two more—providing content-area instruction to support both literacy skills and content-area competencies, and scaling up adolescent literacy policies. According to the report, all five states incorporated content-area literacy into their adolescent literacy programs and content-area teachers received professional development in content-area literacy in their state. States had various strategies for scaling up adolescent literacy initiatives; Alabama, Kentucky, and New Jersey supported adolescent literacy through small-scale programs or pilots, while Florida and Rhode Island put their adolescent literacy policies into practice statewide.

The report also offers questions for further research that state policymakers need answered. Some examples include: How can reading coaches or literacy specialists best support adolescent readers?; What are the best ways to integrate reading instruction into content-area instruction?; What assessments best meet secondary teachers’ and secondary students’ needs?; and What are the best ways of preparing and supporting teachers to meet the needs of struggling adolescent readers?

The complete report is available at http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs/regions/northeast/pdf/REL_2009067.pdf.

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