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Improving Literacy In The Middle And High Schools: Taking The Alabama Reading Initiative To The Next Level

Event:


Alliance for Excellent Education President Bob Wise (left) and Alabama Governor Bob Riley (ctr) listen to Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions (right) speak on comprehensive literacy instruction.It was standing room only on June 30 at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center for a special one-day forum co-sponsored by the Alliance for Excellent Education, the Alabama Department of Education, and the office of Governor Bob Riley, and funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. More than 250 educators, policymakers, and business and community leaders – hailing from Alabama and neighboring states – gathered to learn more about reading and writing instruction at the secondary school level and to help kick off the Partnership for Adolescent Literacy, a pilot program designed to promote greater participation of secondary schools in the nationally renowned Alabama Reading Initiative (ARI).

Prominent guests included Alabama Governor Bob Riley (R), U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and Alliance for Excellent Education President Bob Wise, each of whom offered strong words of support for comprehensive literacy instruction across the K–12 curriculum.

“Bill Gates called [America’s] high schools obsolete, and we have seen reports about high dropout rates across the country,” Riley said. “I believe this is directly related to literacy. I strongly support the ARI and want to expand it.”

Senator Sessions added that it may be time to expand the federal Striving Readers program, which was created to improve the literacy skills of teenage students who read below grade level. He pledged to give serious consideration to new funding options for the program. Keynote addresses were given by Kylene Beers, senior reading researcher at Yale University’s Comer School Development Program and newly elected vice president of the National Council of Teachers of English; Judith Irvin, a noted expert in literacy and middle grades instruction from Florida State University; and Katherine Mitchell, the assistant state superintendent and director of the Alabama Reading Initiative.

Mitchell noted that the ARI has focused its work on the elementary level over the past several years, but now that reading coaches and staff development programs are in place in all 799 of Alabama’s elementary schools, it is poised to ratchet up its service to the state’s 135 secondary schools. She added that the ARI features prominently in a new report from the American Institutes for Research (AIR), which praises it as a model for other states hoping to build teachers’ commitment to literacy instruction at all grade levels and in every subject area. (More information on the AIR report is available athttps://all4ed.org/publication_material/straight_as/straight_public_education_policy_and_progress_6_13/#3).

Additional speakers at the conference included Thomas Hamby, chairman of the Business Council of Alabama; Tommy Ledbetter, principal of Buckhorn High School (which has been recognized by the Alliance for Excellent Education and other national organizations for its success in adolescent literacy instruction); and a number of other practitioners and policy experts.

Agenda

Welcome
Joseph B. Morton, Alabama State Superintendent of Education
Thomas Hamby, Chairman, Business Council of Alabama
Governor Bob Wise, President, Alliance for Excellent Education

Why Adolescent Literacy?
Kylene Beers, Senior Reading Researcher, Comer School Development Program, Yale University, and President-Elect, National Council of Teachers of English

The Alabama Reading Initiative: Our Story So Far
Katherine Mitchell, Assistant Alabama State Superintendent for Reading

Taking the Alabama Reading Initiative to the Next Level
Governor Bob Riley

Luncheon
Judith Irvin, Professor of Education, Florida State University

Creating a Culture of Literacy:  A Guide for Middle and High School Improvement
Tommy Ledbetter, Principal, Buckhorn High School
Judy Simmons, Principal, Montevallo High School

The Promise of the ARI Model for Grades 4-12
Reeda Betts, Secondary Literacy Specialist, Alabama Reading Initiative
Ann Roy Moore, Superintendent, Huntsville City Schools
Martha Rizzuto, Superintendent, Tarrant City Schools
Sabrina Crosby, Training Specialist, North East Florida Education Consortium

Alliance for Excellent Education President Bob Wise presents “Adolescent Literacy Champion” award to Alabama Governor Bob Riley.Alliance for Excellent Education President Bob Wise presents “Adolescent Literacy Champion” award to Alabama Governor Bob Riley.

 

 

 

 

 

Alliance President Bob Wise, Alabama State Superintendent of Education Joe Morton and U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions look on as Alabama Governor Bob Riley discusses the importance of achieving 100% literacy for all students K-12.Alliance President Bob Wise, Alabama State Superintendent of Education Joe Morton and U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions look on as Alabama Governor Bob Riley discusses the importance of achieving 100% literacy for all students K-12.

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions expresses his support for the Alabama Reading Initiative and its new Partnership for Adolescent LiteracyU.S. Senator Jeff Sessions expresses his support for the Alabama Reading Initiative and its new Partnership for Adolescent Literacy.

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions talks with Assistant State Superintendent for Reading Katherine Mitchell about the Alabama Reading Initiative’s new Partnership for Adolescent LiteracyU.S. Senator Jeff Sessions talks with Assistant State Superintendent for Reading Katherine Mitchell about the Alabama Reading Initiative’s new Partnership for Adolescent Literacy.

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, Assistant State Superintendent for Reading Katherine Mitchell and Alliance for Excellent Education President Bob Wise talk between sessions at a day-long event focused on “Improving Literacy in the Middle and High Schools:  Taking the Alabama Reading Initiative to the Next Level.”U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, Assistant State Superintendent for Reading Katherine Mitchell and Alliance for Excellent Education President Bob Wise talk between sessions at a day-long event focused on “Improving Literacy in the Middle and High Schools:  Taking the Alabama Reading Initiative to the Next Level.”

 

 

 

 

Assistant State Superintendent Katherine Mitchell talks with a reporter about the Alabama Reading Initiative and the importance of ensuring 100% literacy for all students K-12Assistant State Superintendent Katherine Mitchell talks with a reporter about the Alabama Reading Initiative and the importance of ensuring 100% literacy for all students K-12.

 

 

 

 

 

Alabama Governor Bob Riley talks with a reporter about the importance of literacy to students’ success in school and after graduationAlabama Governor Bob Riley talks with a reporter about the importance of literacy to students’ success in school and after graduation.

 

 

 

 

 

Reeda Betts, Secondary Literacy Specialist, Alabama Reading Initiative talks about the Partnership for Adolescent Literacy as three of the school leaders who will be participating in the session listen on. Seated from left to right are Betts, Sabrina Crosby, Training Specialist, North East Florida Education Consortium; Martha Rizzuto, Superintendent, Tarrant City Schools; and Ann Roy Moore, Superintendent, Huntsville City SchoolsReeda Betts, Secondary Literacy Specialist, Alabama Reading Initiative talks about the Partnership for Adolescent Literacy as three of the school leaders who will be participating in the session listen on. Seated from left to right are Betts, Sabrina Crosby, Training Specialist, North East Florida Education Consortium; Martha Rizzuto, Superintendent, Tarrant City Schools; and Ann Roy Moore, Superintendent, Huntsville City Schools.

 

 

 

Reeda Betts describes the enthusiastic response from Alabama educators to the Alabama Reading Initiative’s new Partnership for Adolescent LiteracyReeda Betts describes the enthusiastic response from Alabama educators to the Alabama Reading Initiative’s new Partnership for Adolescent Literacy.

 

 

 

 

 

Reeda Betts makes presentation on Reading Next to the Alabama Reading Initiative’s new Partnership for Adolescent LiteracyReeda Betts makes presentation on Reading Next to the Alabama Reading Initiative’s new Partnership for Adolescent Literacy.

 

 

 

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