EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY
OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234
Jean C. Stevens
Adolescent Literacy in New York State
March 12, 2007
Goals 1 and 2
Issue for Discussion
What additional information does the Board of
Regents need to inform policy relating to strengthening adolescent literacy
achievement across New
Reason(s) for Consideration
Review of policy.
This question will come before the Regents
EMSC-VESID Committee on March 19, 2007.
To support the Regents P-16 action strategy
to raise the learning standards to exceed global standards, Department staff is
developing a statewide adolescent literacy plan. The attached report includes
background information on the current state of adolescent literacy in New York State and provides a status report on
current and future plans on addressing statewide adolescent literacy.
Staff recommends that the Regents review the
attached report on adolescent literacy and identify any additional information
they may need to support the planned review of the English Language Arts
learning standards with a focus on prekindergarten through grade 12 literacy
Timetable for Implementation
REPORT ON ADOLESCENT LITERACY IN
In October 2006, the Board of Regents
approved its P-16 education reform strategy which includes Action 6 on raising
the learning standards: “Raise the learning standards to exceed global standards
to graduate all students ready for citizenship, work, and continued education. Align standards, assessments,
curriculum, and instruction across P-16, emphasizing transitions between high
school and college, and high school and the workforce.” Department staff has been in dialogue
with the New York
Comprehensive Center to create a statewide adolescent
literacy plan to support this action as well as the process for reviewing the
State’s English Language Arts (ELA) learning standards. The following includes
information on current literacy issues in New York, what SED is doing to address these
issues, and proposed next steps.
I. Adolescent Literacy in New York State
For New York State students to be better prepared for
success in school, citizenship, and the global workplace, SED needs to increase
its efforts in the area of literacy achievement, focusing on grades 4-12. Literacy incorporates elements of the
four key ideas in the New York State English language arts learning standards:
reading, writing, listening, and speaking. At a time when average literacy
levels for American occupations are rising at a rapid rate, 2005 National
Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores show that 25% of NYS Grade 8
students are performing below basic level in reading (NAEP, 2005).
In Writing Next, a 2006 report published by
the Alliance for
Excellent Education, Graham and Perin articulate the necessity for improved
student writing skills: “Writing well is not just an option for young people—it
is a necessity. Along with reading comprehension, writing skill is a predictor
of academic success and a basic requirement for participation in civic life and
the economy” (Writing Next, 1). The
Writing Next report also states,
“Because the definition of literacy includes both reading and writing skills,
poor proficiency should be recognized as an intrinsic part of the national
literacy crisis” (Writing Next).
Data from recent elementary and middle level
ELA tests show that specific groups such as minority students and students with
low socioeconomic status are not meeting the learning standards at a rate
comparable to the State average. “Only
about 54 percent of Black and about 57 percent of Hispanic fourth-graders,
compared with 79 percent of White fourth graders, met the standards on the
English language arts assessment for elementary-level students by scoring at or
above Level 3” (Chapter 655
Report-Statewide Profile 2005). When
comparing students in high need districts with students in low need districts,
the percentage of students meeting proficiency is significantly lower in high
In his press release on the 2006 grades 3-8
ELA scores, Commissioner Mills stated, “Despite improvements in elementary
school over the past several years, the grade 3-8 results show substantially
lower achievement starting in the sixth grade. The neediest children require
more support. The problem is literacy in the middle grades. These results demand
improvement in curriculum, instruction, and professional development”
(Commissioner Mills, Grades 3-8 Press Release).
Department staff recommend that a statewide
literacy plan be developed to support closing the gap in literacy achievement
along lines of income, race and ethnicity, language, and disability. All
students reading below grade level require explicit, intensive instruction
targeted to the required component skills for proficient reading and writing.
“Research shows… that students who receive
intensive, focused literacy instruction and tutoring will graduate from high
school and attend college in significantly greater numbers than those not
receiving such attention. Despite these findings, few middle or high schools
have a comprehensive approach to teaching literacy across the curriculum” (Every Child a
II. What NYSED Is Doing to Address Adolescent
To prepare for reviewing the NYS learning
standards, with a focus on literacy across the content areas, Department staff
has completed the following steps to ensure that all students are prepared for
increased literacy demands in a global economy. The Department recognizes
student gains through Reading First, and will extend research- based best
practices into the statewide adolescent literacy plan, as appropriate.
in collaboration with the New York Comprehensive Center (NYCC), a 2006
conference featuring Dr. Catherine Snow, a national expert on literacy and one
of the authors of Reading Next. SED staff, college faculty, and school
district representatives participated in an information-sharing session, based
on the challenges of fostering professional growth in reading education and
preparing college teacher preparation faculty to include literacy instruction
in all programs.
closely with the New
Center as it provides
research-based scholarship and support throughout the standards review process
and development of a statewide adolescent literacy plan.
- Participated in a Northeast and Islands
Regional Education Laboratory (NEIREL) focus group with other states to
determine areas of need concerning literacy, research, and professional
development. NEIREL is currently benchmarking standards from other states to
York’s statewide literacy plan and upcoming standards
- Administered the Reading First program,
since 2004, in over 300 New
York State schools. Reading First supports
teachers who provide systematic and explicit scientifically-based reading
instruction for all students in grades K-3. Schools that participate in
Reading First administer end-of-year outcome assessments (DIBELS and
Terranova). Since 2004, Reading First schools have shown steady and
significant gains in the percentages of students in grades 1-3 who are able to
meet standards of proficiency in reading (word analysis, vocabulary, oral
reading fluency and comprehension). In addition, the schools are showing
decreasing percentages of students who are scoring at levels farthest from
grade level on state annual outcome assessments that provide a reliable and
valid measure of reading proficiency.
- Administered Reading First resources to
provide extensive professional development on scientifically-based reading
instruction for teachers, administrators, and K-12 special education teachers
in Reading First schools.
- Provided support to Schools Under
Registration Review (SURR), Schools in Need of Improvement (SINI), and schools
removed from SURR. Four literacy Institutes (Reading and Mathematics Institutes) have been
conducted during the past 11 years, which are professional development
training sessions during the school year for New York City PreK-12 educators.
- Provided direct, on-site assistance by
expert consultants to selected SURR schools. New York City utilizes Standards and
Assessment Consultants to provide on-site service in literacy for intermediate
level and high schools.
- Developed learning experiences in
accordance with the New
Academy for Teaching and
Learning and the statewide Peer Review Model for professional development.
These learning experiences address implementation of learning standards and
grade-level performance indicators for English language
III. Next Steps
SED will continue to partner with the
District Superintendents, the New York City Department of Education, regional
networks, higher education, USNY partners, the New York Comprehensive Center,
NEIREL, leaders of professional associations, and educators from across the
State, to ensure that New York State students meet the need for growing literacy
demands in the 21st century. During the next year, SED will complete
the following steps concerning adolescent literacy in New York State.
- Review New
York State learning standards within the context of
literacy across the content areas, beginning with English language arts
standards and its respective grade-by-grade core curriculum.
- Review and revise the delivery of teacher
preparation program requirements affecting literacy.
- Deliver a statewide strategy for
professional development to support the implementation of research-based
instructional programs which utilize explicit instruction, formative
assessment/progress monitoring, and interventions for struggling learners,
across all content areas.
- Reduce summer academic loss, with the
implementation of the Lexile readability framework, which will create stronger
home-library-school connections. This readability measure matches student
reading ability with appropriate texts. Parents and students will have access
to a list of books for summer reading that corresponds to each student’s
individual Lexile measure.
Biancarosa, Gina, and
Catherine Snow. Reading Next—A Vision for Action and
Research in Middle and High School
Literacy: A Report to Carnegie Corporation of New York (2nd ed.).Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent
Creating a Culture of Literacy: A Guide for
Middle and High School Principals.
of Secondary School Principals. Reston, Virginia: NASSP, 2005. <http://www.all4ed.org/publications/WritingNext/index.html>.
Graham, Steve, and Dolores
Perin. Writing Next: Effective Strategies to Improve Writing
Adolescents in Middle and High Schools: A Report to Carnegie Corporation of
Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education, 2007.
Joftus, Scott. Every Child a Graduate: A Framework for an
Excellent Education for all Middle and High School Students. Alliance for Excellent
Perie, et al. The
Nation's Report Card (NAEP): Reading.
States Department of Education, 2005.
New York State Education
Department. Chapter 655 Report: A Report
to the Governor and the Legislature on the Educational Status of the State's Schools. Albany: NYSED, 2006.
New York State Education
Department. Grade 3-8 Tests for First
Time Show Year-by-Year Trends in
School Performance: Press Release. Albany: NYSED, 2006.
New York State Education
Department. P-16 Education: A Plan for
Action. Albany: NYSED, 2006.
Hillary R, et al. The
Nation's Report Card (NAEP): Writing.
States Department of Education, 2002.