2015 NCTE Education Policy Platform

Literacy is foundational to education, to work, and to civic life. As global and digital forces continue to shrink our world, the abilities to read and communicate are basic to individual opportunity and the social good. A failure to develop these abilities in every learner has consequences that reverberate at every level of society.

Two principles must guide all decisions affecting literacy education.

First, decisions must be informed by solid research, not merely by ideology or political expediency. More than a century of ongoing inquiry into how literacy best develops, including among diverse learners in varied situations, has identified effective teaching practices and the conditions that foster learning. Everyone involved in education-related decisions has a responsibility to attend to that research, and disciplinary organizations have a responsibility to provide it in ways that all can access.

Second, the needs and interests of all learners—early childhood through university—must guide our efforts. Clearly, responsibility for meeting student needs and interests is complexly shared, by parents, teachers, schools, communities, and governments. We must not allow students to serve as proxy sites for contesting our economic, philosophical, and other differences.

We must provide conditions for literacy learning through the following four areas of action.

Capacity Building
As a society we share collective responsibility for building the capacity of all those involved in improving the conditions for literacy learning. Instead of pointing a finger and placing blame, our focus should be on creating informed and knowledgeable stakeholders who are responsible for optimal learning environments for all students, including legislators, school board members, administrators, teacher educators, teachers, and parents. For example, research makes clear that giving teachers time to collaborate builds their capacity for teaching. To build capacity for literacy learning, we recommend funding and flexibility in order to:

Equity in Education
Equity is essential to meet America’s promise of equal opportunity for all citizens. Equity serves the common values of fairness, opportunity, and social good. Disparity in Iife circumstances should not result in a disparity of access to a quality education. With fifty-one percent of students attending public schools now eligible for free or reduced lunches, the growing wealth gap affects families across the United States as well as conditions and opportunities for learning. The federal government has a role to guarantee that all citizens are prepared to participate in a competitive knowledge economy and a strong democracy. The following actions are essential to ensure equity in our democracy:

Comprehensive, Evidence-Based Literacy Education
A quality literacy education is a civil right and a public good that provides numerous benefits to individual students and to our society. All students deserve literacy teaching informed by the substantial body of credible research and exemplary practice. To that end, we support dedicated funding streams in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and/or the Higher Education Act HEA to:

Assessments for Learning and for Accountability
Assessment of learning, assessment for learning, and assessment as learning are essential to literacy education. Assessment should employ multiple measures, focus on growth, and be appropriate for specific learning situations. All stakeholders need to understand the assessments in use and respect the privacy of students and families while ensuring that educators have the information they need to make sound decisions in a timely manner. New and innovative forms of assessment may prove more valid and better able to contribute to student learning and school improvement than standardized tests. We recommend:

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