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Essential Elements for Successful Literacy Programs Identified in New Report

Press Release:

Essential Elements for Successful Literacy Programs Identified in New Report

Reading Next: A Vision for Action and Research in Middle and High School Literacy Provides Recommendations for Successful Programs That Simultaneously Increase Knowledge Base

Leading literacy researchers have identified 15 fundamental elements of effective adolescent literacy programs in a report to Carnegie Corporation of New York, released today by the Alliance for Excellent Education.

Reading Next: A Vision for Action and Research in Middle and High School Literacy also stresses the need for action balanced with research to build the literacy field’s knowledge base.

“If the funding, research, policymaking, and education communities embrace these recommendations, the literacy field will make significant strides toward the goal of meeting the needs of all students in our society, while strengthening our understanding of exactly what works, when, and for whom,” says Cynthia Harlow Sadler, Interim President of the Alliance for Excellent Education.

A panel of five nationally known and respected educational researchers met in spring 2004 with representatives from Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Alliance for Excellent Education to draw up a set of recommendations for how to meet the needs of the nation’s 8 million struggling readers in grades 4 – 12, while simultaneously envisioning a way to propel the field forward. The researchers included:

  • Dr. Donald Deshler (University of Kansas)
  • Dr. David Francis (University of Houston)
  • Dr. John Guthrie (University of Maryland)
  • Dr. Michael Kamil (Stanford University
  • Dr. Jim McPartland (Johns Hopkins University).

This report is the result of their deliberations. The 15 elements they identified are:

  • Direct, explicit comprehensive instruction
  • Effective instructional principles imbedded in content
  • Motivation and self-directed learning
  • Text-based collaborative learning
  • Strategic tutoring
  • Diverse texts
  • Intensive writing
  • A technology component
  • Ongoing formative assessment of students
  • Extended time for literacy
  • Professional development
  • Ongoing summative assessment of students and programs
  • Teacher teams
  • Leadership
  • A comprehensive and coordinated literacy program

Although the panel encourages literacy programs implement a mix of elements in search of the most effective overall program to meet the needs of individual students, three specific elements – professional development, formative assessment, and summative assessment-should always be included.

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The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington-based policy, research, and advocacy organization that works to make every child a graduate, prepared for postsecondary education and success in life. It is funded by the Leeds Family, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Daniels Fund, and the New York Community Trust, as well as by concerned individuals.

For more information about the Alliance for Excellent Education, please visit:

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