RM Winter 2016 FLIP

Guiding Principles for Preservice Teacher Literacy Education in Light of Read to Succeed

Susan Cridland-Hughes, Clemson University PhilipWilder, Clemson University

Reading Matters Commentary

Read to Succeed as state policy in a national conversation about literacy Since the Coleman report (Coleman, Campbell, Hobson, McPartland, Mood &Weinfeld, 1966), discourse and policies related to equality of education have shifted towards an output model with a common, widely accepted premise: improving teachers improves student literacy. The literacy education of teachers has historically been viewed through input and output models where pre-service programs input “highly qualified teachers” into classrooms, and where “effective teaching” is measured and now evaluated by student output. The current climate of high-stakes testing and teacher evaluation models has thrown this into overdrive by narrowly defining both ends. Within this larger historical and political context, literacy achievement gaps and dropout rates provided the impetus for the adoption of the 2014 South Carolina Read to Succeed (R2S) legislation. Ratified by both the Senate and the House in 2014, the crafters of Read to Succeed see the act as a contract with the youth of South Carolina to guarantee access to effective literacy instruction stating “the true goal of the Read to Succeed Act: ensuring that every South Carolina student has an opportunity to acquire the grade-appropriate ability to read, write, and speak the English language” (South Carolina Department of Education, 2014, p. 2). Key provisions require that secondary school classroom practice include literacy assessments, reading interventions and the use of “evidence-based reading instruction” to provide every student with “targeted, effective, comprehension support from the classroom teacher” and, if needed, supplemental support from a reading interventionist so all students can comprehend grade‑level texts (p. 4). To this end, the law states “classroom teachers receive pre‑service and in‑service coursework which prepares them to help all students comprehend grade‑level texts” (p. 4). The intentions of the act are weighty—yet too narrow—while placing the responsibility on the shoulders of teachers and teacher preparation programs to develop courses and instructional activities that will culminate in meaningful change in classrooms and improved adolescent literacy in disciplines. By 2016-2017, programs licensing teachers at the secondary level must offer a six-credit hour sequence in literacy that includes a course in the foundations of reading and a course in content-area reading and writing. These courses should address the elements and assessing competencies in the appropriate set of South Carolina Literacy Competencies for Middle and High School Content Area Teachers. Through two courses, pre-service teachers must garner a foundational understanding of reading and

Abstract — In this article, the authors explore how the South Carolina Read to Succeed Act can shape the development of pre-service teachers (PSTs). First, they look at how the national landscape of education policy and reform affects the state development of reading policy, specifically exploring the relationship between high stakes testing and reform initiatives. They then describe how the changing definition of literacy, particularly disciplinary literacy, and data-driven reform align and diverge. Finally, the authors offer recommendations for how to use the goals of Read to Succeed and a focus on disciplinary literacy to shape preservice education for the sake of adolescents in South Carolina. We live in an age of data, and that data drives conversations about success and failure. Many assessments show adolescent literacy in South Carolina lagging behind most states in the union. In a 2011 release, the Education Oversight Committee (EOC) of South Carolina reported that South Carolina ranked 42nd in the country for eighth grade reading scores (Education Oversight Committee [EOC], 2011). According to the 2012 NAEP assessment of reading, South Carolina’s eighth graders scored an average of 260, lower than the 262 average of regional counterpart Florida but slightly higher than Alabama’s average of 258. All of these are lower than the national average of 264 (EOC, 2012). Although recent publications have critiqued the limits of using literacy achievement data for understanding competency in reading (Au & Tempel, 2012), these snapshots provide an urgent image: over a quarter of South Carolina adolescents struggle to demonstrate academic literacy proficiency. To learn and obtain high levels of academic literacy, adolescents in South Carolina, including those in this image, need access to the ways knowledge is produced—through reading, writing, reasoning, and discourse--in academic disciplines (Moje, 2008, p.103). At the same time Read to Succeed legislation became law in spring of 2014, Margaret, a preservice teacher in social studies education, completed her final year in our program. To teach well, Margaret, and other PSTs, must develop knowledge of students, knowledge of literacy, knowledge of pedagogy, and disciplinary knowledge comprised of both driving concepts and literacy practices (Manderino, 2012). Given the urgency surrounding adolescent literacy, the requirements of Read to Succeed (R2S) legislation in South Carolina, and her own proclivity to view literacy as discrete, generalizable skills instead of discipline-specific literacy practices used to create knowledge, how can Margaret be prepared for this challenge? We offer guiding principles for preparing PSTs for the daunting task of supporting adolescent literacies within secondary school disciplines.

Reading Matters | Volume 16 • Winter 2016 scira.org | 75 |


Made with