Legislative Action Team Advisory

Thursday, March 02, 2006

IRA statement on ACT report on Reading

Embargo to 2:30 pm March 1, 2006
Media contact:
Beth Cady, Public Information Office
Telephone 302-731-1600, ext. 293
Fax 302-731-1057
E-mail bcady@reading.org
Website www.reading.org
Teens Gain Support for High School Reading Instruction

NEWARK, DELAWARE, USA— ACT joined a growing number of policymakers and education professionals concerned about adolescent literacy with its new report, Reading between the Lines: What the ACT Reveals about College Readiness for Reading. “The ACT report demonstrates how critical literacy experiences are for high school kids—particularly with regard to assigning them and instructing them in demanding texts in all subjects,” commented Timothy Shanahan, professor of urban education and director for the Center of Literacy, University of Illinois, Chicago. Shanahan, who will become president of the International Reading Association in May 2006, sees the need for a comprehensive adolescent literacy agenda that emphasizes reading instruction throughout middle and high school and that provides added support for struggling students.
Richard Allington, IRA’s current president and professor of education at the University of Tennessee, concurs. “Federal and state governments must invest more in middle and high schools,” Allington comments. “If we hope to graduate high school students with reading levels appropriate to postsecondary pursuits, there are several steps we need to take.” Allington’s short list of actions is focused primarily on teacher preparation and continuing professional development:
§ A federal grant program to fund professional development of middle and high school reading specialists and coaches.
§ State education agency review of certification requirements for high school teachers to ensure that all content teachers are being well prepared to meet the challenges of high-level reading instruction and the reading of complex texts.
§ Expansion of Title I funds to high school level.
Efforts to build collaboration among content and reading specialists have already resulted in Standards for Middle and High School Literacy Coaches, jointly released in 2005 by IRA, the National Council of Teachers of English, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, National Science Teachers Association, and National Council for the Social Studies. With poor reading skills contributing to the high rates of high school dropouts and growing enrollment in college-level remedial reading classes, reading instruction may finally find its place in the education of older students. For more information about adolescent literacy, visit www.reading.org.


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