Research and best practices identified by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices' Adolescent Literacy Advisory Panel suggest governors pursue five strategies to improve adolescent literacy achievement.
- Build support for a state focus on adolescent literacy.
A strategic plan to address the literacy needs of the state's middle and high school students requires literacy performance data for students, schools, and districts. Such data can be shared through a state literacy report card to raise the issue's profile and garner momentum for improving adolescent literacy achievement. Other steps governors and states can take are leading a statewide adolescent literacy campaign, designating a state office or coordinator for adolescent literacy, and establishing an adolescent literacy advisory panel.
- Raise literacy expectations across grades and curricula.
To prepare students for success in a rigorous high school curriculum, states must make literacy expectations explicit across grade levels and content areas. This will require assessing real-world literacy demands and strengthening state standards, accordingly. Policymakers can help ensure the standards are met by aligning them with curricula, assessments, and professional development activities. The support of teachers, principals, and district administrators will also be needed for students to meet the new literacy expectations. Educators must understand the importance of promoting literacy rooted in academic disciplines.
- Encourage and support school and district literacy plans.
States should encourage schools and districts to develop bestpractices-based literacy plans to ensure students receive effective adolescent literacy instruction. To support this effort, governors and state education departments can guide schools and districts on what to include in the literacy plan and provide resources to help them implement it. At a minimum, states should require that struggling readers be identified and provided interventions tailored to their needs.
- Build educators' capacity to provide adolescent literacy instruction.
Governors and states can use several approaches to build educators' capacity to provide effective adolescent literacy instruction. They can strengthen teacher licensure and preparation requirements. They can also offer specialized certification or endorsements in adolescent literacy for contentarea teachers, schoolwide professional development in literacy instruction, and induction or mentoring programs with a literacy component. Principals, too, can be offered incentives to become successful adolescent literacy leaders in their schools.
- Measure progress in adolescent literacy at the school, district, and state levels.
Governors will want to measure the effectiveness of their adolescent literacy initiatives to make modifications, disseminate promising practices, and convey positive results. They, along with other policymakers and educators, will need better data sources and tools, including assessments and data systems that provide real-time and longitudinal student literacy performance information. Governors have an unprecedented opportunity to draw attention to the adolescent literacy crisis. Knowledge about what works for struggling adolescent readers is increasing, and new funding sources for adolescent literacy initiatives are beginning to emerge. By pursuing strategies to improve literacy achievement, governors can set the stage for a revitalized education system that prepares students for the increasing literacy demands of work, education, and civic participation in the 21st century.