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New Policy Brief Calls for K–12 Comprehensive Literacy Plans Aligned with English Language Arts Common Standards

Press Release:

New Policy Brief Calls for K–12 Comprehensive Literacy Plans Aligned with English Language Arts Common Standards

WASHINGTON, DC — Federal and state leaders have an important role to play in developing comprehensive K–12 literacy plans aligned to the English language arts common core state standards, according to a new policy brief released today by the Alliance for Excellent Education. The brief, “Engineering Solutions to the National Crisis in Literacy: How to Make Good on the Promise of the Common Core State Standards,” argues that developing these plans is critical to ensuring that all students develop the necessary competencies to graduate from high school ready for college and the modern workplace.

“The Common Core State Standards Initiative took a note from high-performing countries in developing these standards and set forth clear and ambitious benchmarks in literacy,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “The standards are well designed to weave reading and writing skills throughout the fabric of other content areas such as history, social studies, and science.”

According to the brief, the adoption and implementation of the English language arts common core state standards establishes a “staircase” of increasing complexity in what students’ must be able to read and comprehend. The brief stresses that high school students’ ability to read and comprehend challenging text will predict their success in a postsecondary environment.

“Engineering Solutions to the National Crisis in Literacy” calls on state leaders to develop comprehensive, birth through grade twelve literacy plans that provide a systemic approach, equitable resources, and strong teacher training. It also sets forth recommendations for federal policymakers to support literacy improvement plans:

  • Support the adoption of college- and career-readiness standards in English language arts and aligned assessments
  • Enhance the role of states in improving literacy instruction
  • Support and invest in increasing the quality of teacher education and professional development
  • Invest in ongoing research and evaluation

The brief provides ample research on the extent of the literary crises. For example, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, American fifteen-year-olds currently rank fourteenth among developed nations in reading, lagging behind countries such as Poland, Estonia, and Iceland. In addition, private industries spend an estimated $3.1 billion annually to bolster literacy skills of entry-level workers.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort to establish a single set of clear educational standards for K–12 English language arts and mathematics. The standards are designed to be informed by the highest benchmarks from across the country and around the globe, relevant to the real world, and reflect the skills and knowledge that students need for success in college and the modern workplace. Currently, forty-four states plus Washington, DC have adopted the standards. To learn more, visit https://all4ed.org/common-standards.

“Engineering Solutions to the National Crisis in Literacy” is available here.

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The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC-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 for Excellent Education, please visit www.all4ed.org.

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