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Extensive Research Supports Policies for Improving Reading and Writing in America’s Middle and High Schools, According to Allian

Press Release:

Extensive Research Supports Policies for Improving Reading and Writing in America’s Middle and High Schools, According to Allian

Washington, D.C. – According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, research on the importance of and strategies for improving literacy among the nation’s secondary school students has reached a level of compelling consensus that confidently justifies changes in federal policy.

The Alliance’s new policy brief, Federal Support for Adolescent Literacy: A Solid Investment, notes that the federal investment in developing high-level reading and writing skills in younger students has diminishing returns unless literacy instruction is continued throughout the K-12 educational continuum.  The brief argues for support and expansion of federal programs such as the Striving Readers Act, which could provide high-quality reading and writing instruction for millions of students in grades 4-12, but which currently operates in only eight districts across the nation.

“If policymakers are waiting for convincing research in order to commit to supporting middle and high school students, then the wait is over,” says Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia.  “There’s overwhelming evidence that reading and writing abilities weaken as students move through a school system that does not continue to teach them.  Without these skills, their risk of dropping out increases dramatically. Federal support, especially as part of the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, must recognize and address this crisis.  Research shows us the way — now is the time for federal policymakers to lead us down the road to reform.”

In 2003, with the publication of Adolescents and Literacy, the Alliance for Excellent Education demonstrated that sufficient research existed to guide efforts to improve the reading and writing skills of America’s older students.  The Alliance’s Reading Next report, published in 2004, laid out the essential elements that should be considered as adolescent literacy programs are developed and implemented in schools. Since that time, additional reports from the Alliance and other organizations have documented emerging research that provides even more guidance to educators and policymakers regarding how to support effective interventions for struggling adolescents.

The Alliance’s new brief lays out a set of strategic policy recommendations that include:

  • Encourage schools, districts, and states to articulate clear, comprehensive, actionable plans for improving literacy instruction
  • Invest in tools that help schools identify struggling readers and appropriately adjust instruction in grades 4-12
  • Invest in ongoing professional development programs designed to help all middle and high school teachers provide effective reading and writing instruction in their subject area
  • Support and invest in accountability systems that give teachers strong incentives to provide effective reading and writing instruction
  • Invest in ongoing research on and evaluation of strategies to improve adolescent literacy

Federal Support for Adolescent Literacy: A Solid Investment is available here

Reading Next: A Vision for Action and Research in Middle and High School Literacy is available here

For more information about adolescent literacy, please visit here

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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.
For more information about the Alliance, please visit:

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