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Become a Literacy Advocate

The negative impact of insufficient reading, writing and math skills on students is well-documented. Administrators and teachers are being held accountable as the focus turns to improving curriculum and test scores. AdLit.org is an educational initiative of WETA, the flagship public television and radio station in the nation's capital. AdLit's focus is to provide resources to parents and educators of students in grades 4-12 to help improve the teaching of reading and writing.

According to Dr. Rafael Heller for AdLit.org, "In grades K-3, when teachers emphasize phonics and the reading of storybooks and other simple texts, most kids make progress. But when their teachers begin to give them longer, more academic reading assignments -- that is, when the emphasis shifts from 'learning to read' to 'reading to learn' -- many students lose steam." Dr. Heller's series on Adolescent Literacy 101 covers a number of topics that provide research results and guidance for teachers who want to become literacy advocates.

What Is a Literacy Advocate?

Recognizing the need to improve literacy in our schools and communities is imperative. Knowing what to do about it can be quite complex, and the first step would be to assess specific, local needs by evaluating and diagnosing current conditions. More than just being a literacy enthusiast, the educator who becomes a literacy advocate needs to know how to research, coach and mentor, evaluate, and design reading programs.

According to a brief prepared by The Access Center and the U.S. Department of Education on scientifically based research conducted on various reading programs, it is important that reading programs be based on reading research and not ideology. Another quality of effective reading programs is that they are supported by initial professional development and then follow-up training.

Gaining the Knowledge and Training to Be an Effective Literacy Advocate

Working teachers interested in professional development have many demands on their time and find it challenging to gain the training and credentials they seek while balancing work and family responsibilities. The online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction: Reading & Literacy from LSU Shreveport is a flexible program that offers the opportunity to pursue an advanced degree, learn current theories, models and approaches, and become a literacy advocate in as few as 24 months.

The 12-course program curriculum includes Foundations of Educational Research, which addresses how to effectively become a teacher researcher. It also includes Reading Assessment, a course that prepares teachers to organize and implement instruction based on reading ability. Upon completion of the M.Ed. program, graduates will gain the skills needed to provide direct reading intervention, knowledge of how to plan and conduct reading staff development, and knowledge to develop and coordinate reading programs.

Additional Resources for Literacy Advocates

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the Ball Foundation joined together to launch an initiative to identify, celebrate and elevate the work of successful school teams that were achieving remarkable results in advancing literacy learning.

This initiative, known as the National Center for Literacy Education (NCLE), produced a series of three reports from school-level data, each exploring a particular facet of what it takes to remodel literacy learning. These three reports are available on the NCTE website.

Learn more about the LSUS online M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction: Reading & Literacy program.


Sources:

AdLit.org: Adolescent Literacy 101

WETA: Considerations when Selecting a Reading Program

NCTE: Literacy Advocacy

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