NCLE Report: Remodeling Literacy Learning


Making Room for What Works

Today there is growing agreement that literacy is at the center of all learning. The National Center for Literacy Education, a coalition of education associations, policy organizations, and foundations united to support schools in elevating literacy learning, conducted a nationally representative survey of educators of all roles, grade levels, and subject areas to find out where we stand as a nation. This report provides an overview of NCLE's findings and concludes with an analysis of opportunities to move forward. This report was made possible through the generous support of the Ball Foundation. This report was authored by Catherine Awsumb Nelson, Ph.D., NCLE's Director of Evaluation and Learning. She also designed and analyzed the survey on which the report is based.



Key findings from the NCLE survey, explored in more detail in the body of the report, yield the following conclusions about how US educators are currently working together to meet rising literacy expectations and how best to support them going forward.

  1. Literacy is not just the English teacher's job anymore.
  2. Working together is working smarter.
  3. But schools aren't structured to facilitate educators working together.
  4. Many of the building blocks for remodeling literacy learning are in place.
  5. Effective collaboration needs systemic support.

Policy Recommendations

Policymakers at the school, system, state, and national levels have a central role to play in remodeling literacy education. To make room for sustained growth in literacy learning, policymakers must:

  1. Provide the necessary support to ensure that educators know how to teach the elements of literacy pertinent to their content areas.
  2. Embed the collaboration of educators in the school day. This is critical for deep student learning and is a necessary prerequisite to the success of other school reforms.
  3. Fund professional learning that is ongoing, job-embedded, and collaborative; educators who engage in this kind of learning are better able to engage and advance literacy learning across grades and subjects.
  4. Structure the use of educator time to maximize the development of collective capacity for improving literacy learning across a school or school system.
  5. Promote accountability by encouraging educators in a school or system to reach shared agreements about successful literacy learning and the steps they will take together to fulfill these agreements.

Stories of School Change

Powerful stories about how educators and administrators are collaborating to remodel literacy education can be found in communities across the nation. Here are just a few examples:

Engaging Students in Literacy at Johnston High School

Educators at Johnston High School, Iowa, saw that some changes were needed in the curriculum to achieve real student engagement, and working together, they found a way to bring this about.

In the News

NCLE's 2013 report Remodeling Literacy Learning: Making Room for What Works has been mentioned in the following media outlets, association publications, and blogs.

What Teachers Need and Reformers Ignore: Time to Collaborate (Washington Post, Apr. 4, 2013)

Remodeling Literacy Learning: Making Room for What Works (National Writing Project, Apr. 8, 2013)

Collaboration Strikes Again -- Or Are Schools Striking Collaboration? (Learning Forward blog, Education Week)

NCLE Report Reveals School Librarians as Highly Involved Leaders Inside and Outside of Their Schools (American Libraries/ALA News)

Is There (Finally) a New Paradigm for “Teacher Accountability?” (Digital Writing, Digital Teaching blog)

Collaboration is Key to Improving Literacy: Study from NCLE (blog, NASSP website)

Literacy Report Promotes Collaborative Teaching for 21st Century Learning (blog, ACTE website)

NCLE Report: Remodeling Literacy Learning | Literacy in Learning Exchange (Inspired Educationalists blog)

Rebuilding a Culture of Literacy in Schools (blog, New America Foundation)

Maximizing Professional Learning to Support Student Learning (webinar, ASCD, Apr. 11, 2013)


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