Drafted by the NCTE Government Relations Subcommittee, January 2006; approved by the NCTE Executive Committee, March 2006
Since 1911, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) has worked to advance teaching, research, and student achievement in English language arts at all scholastic levels. As an active participant in the conversation about improving student achievement, NCTE serves as a resource for policymakers and the education community.
Since reading and writing are the gateways to learning in all disciplines, NCTE believes that all teachers should be adept in teaching the reading and writing strategies appropriate to their discipline in order to increase student achievement. To prepare today’s youth to become accomplished citizens in a world economy, our schools must be structured and funded to provide all students with the literacy support they need in every classroom.
High levels of literacy are necessary for student achievement in all disciplines, including science, technology, and mathematics. Literacy coaching and related professional development across the curriculum are essential components in an educational program that enhances students’ success and America’s competitiveness.
The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
Early Learning, PreK-Grade 3
The National Council of Teachers of English advocates policies that support language arts teachers in becoming familiar with a broad range of research and in participating in high quality professional development so that they may select from a range of strategies to advance young children’s learning. To achieve this end, Congress should
- Launch a full, independent evaluation of Reading First, to include:
- Evaluation of the long-term effects on students’ reading achievement, behaviors, and attitudes;
- Investigation and promotion of practices based upon all up-to-date, high-quality educational research;
- Follow-up evaluation of the program’s effects on students’ skills in writing, literary study, and oral language; and
- Comparisons of the outcomes of programs focused on isolated skills as compared to those with integrated approaches, especially in relationship to students’ ability to read and write a variety of texts in a range of situations.
- Expand funding of Head Start and Even Start.Nothing makes more of a difference in academic achievement than support for children and families in the first five years of life. The evidence base for Head Start’s influence on student achievement is extremely strong.
The National Council of Teachers of English advocates policies that:
- Assist states and districts in developing a range of assessments that measure student learning for the purposes of determining adequate yearly progress. These assessments should:
- Advance, not merely measure, student learning;
- Assess higher order thinking skills and understanding.
- Decrease the testing burden on states, schools, and districts by allowing greater flexibility in the timing and content of assessments, and permitting administrators and teachers to choose rigorous assessments that align with local standards, curricula, and instructional strategies.
- Allow the current pilot program on growth models to be expanded to all states for determining student progress over time.
- Growth models assist teachers in designing and tailoring instructional practices to meet the specific needs of individual students.
- Establish appropriate standards and assessments for English language learners (ELL).
- According to research evidence, ELL students need at least three years to become fully competent in academic English in order to be successful on assessments given to native English speaking students.
- Require supplemental service providers to employ well-prepared, certified teachers.
- Students who utilize supplementary service providers because they are struggling academically need to receive instruction from a highly qualified teacher.
- Support and provide resources for the use of literacy coaches as essential components in an educational program that promotes students’ success in all disciplines, including science, technology, and mathematics. Literacy coaches should be widely available to support K-12 teachers in all disciplines and should be:
- Skillful collaborators,
- Supportive colleagues for teachers in the core content areas of English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies,
- Evaluators of literacy needs,
- Instructional strategists.
- Support research that investigates various measures of school growth, including student engagement, attendance, and analytic skills.
- Support efforts to recruit and place teachers in high needs schools and program areas.
Every student deserves highly qualified teachers who are well-prepared in both content and diverse instructional approaches. The National Council of Teachers of English advocates teacher preparation programs that
- Include literacy programs that strengthen content knowledge and teaching skills.
- Prepare reading teachers who become professionals with the ability to select from a range of methodologies.
- Providing a wide-range of research-based evidence about how students learn to read and write equips teachers with a variety of approaches to improve student achievement.
- Integrate technology as teaching and learning tools.
- Meet high accountability standards and accurately report data describing teacher quality and program outcomes.
- Data describing candidates’ knowledge should be drawn from those who have completed an institution’s teacher education program rather than those who have completed other academic degrees or credentials.
The National Council of Teachers of English advocates policies that:
- Provide for systematic, on-going professional development programs in technology integration for early-career and experienced teachers.
- In order to remain globally competitive, we must invest in supporting student use of technology and acquisition of 21st century literacy skills.
- Provide resources for flexible, ongoing professional development, including mentoring, that meets the needs of individual teachers to ensure effective literacy teaching.
- Support the use of high quality, locally designed programs to promote teacher knowledge and expertise.
- Use of high quality locally designed programs reflects the culture of the community and helps to safeguard against the promotion of a narrow range of commercially motivated professional development programs and products.
- Make available federal matching funds to leverage state, local, and philanthropic support for innovative, sustained professional development initiatives that advance literacy learning over time.
This position statement may be printed, copied, and disseminated without permission from NCTE.