2014 NCTE Education Policy Platform

Today, being literate requires us to create, manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of information and to generate meaningful messages for remarkably different groups — from family members to strangers thousands of miles away. In every era, what it means to be literate evolves and changes. In 18th-century America, being literate meant being able to sign one’s name on official documents. Later, in an era where books were scarce and highly valued, the ability to “sight read” and recite poems and passages from memory defined the literate citizen. Just as schools changed to meet shifting definitions of literacy in the past, today we must change again.

Common habits of mind among those who have developed the literacy skills necessary to lead full and successful lives today include creativity, persistence, curiosity, and responsibility. Every student deserves the opportunity to cultivate these skills across a lifetime, through high-quality literacy instruction. In a time of fiscal austerity, it is natural to look for a way to limit the time and resources required to provide quality literacy instruction. But high-quality literacy teaching necessarily requires ongoing learning and collaboration among educators, adequate resources for literacy learners, continuous opportunities for students to read and write across all subject areas, and deep knowledge of assessment design as an integral part of student learning.

Equity is paramount. Because all students have a right to expect a high-quality literacy education, educators, administrators, and policymakers alike must create the conditions that support literacy learning. These foundational ideas should guide governmental action designed to support literacy learning in 2014:

Literacy is a lifelong learning process and is essential for the ability to learn across all of life’s endeavors. Students deserve literacy instruction in all disciplines that sets them on a path leading to active citizenship, valuing arts and humanities, professional engagement, and academic advancement. Both federal and state governments must invest in measures designed to place students and educators alike on this path. These measures include

Professional learning of educators is necessary for high-quality literacy instruction and student learning at all academic levels. Professional learning depends upon tapping the substantial expertise that already exists and upon sharing constantly emerging knowledge about literacy teaching and learning. This kind of professional learning requires time and is nurtured by

Assessments should aid learning, not merely audit it. Assessment for accountability purposes is necessary, but assessments are most valuable when they are locally constructed, provide immediate and useful feedback, and involve students in meaningful activities. We recommend

Investments in literacy generate innovation, fresh solutions, informed decision making, and opportunities for social mobility. When these investments are made for all students, everyone benefits. Policymakers invest wisely by

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