Adolescent Literacy: Other Efforts/Initiatives

Adolescent Literacy: Other Efforts/Initiatives

Many meaningful initiatives have occurred without state statute or rules and regulations forcing the activity. Governors' offices, state universities, state task forces and state agencies have all sparked impressive efforts in the states. 

Why does it matter?

  • Recognition in the state of the need for change often occurs at the grassroots level and percolates upward.

    • Highlights:

    • Sixteen states have significant activities occurring that are not reflected in state statute or board rules and regulations.
    • At its December 2007 meeting, the Kentucky State Board of Education heard a state department of education report and discussed developing a position statement and adolescent literacy agenda to address conditions for success. The state plans to have all schools develop the literacy agenda in the 2008-09 school year.

      Methodology: The information was collected from state statutes, recently enacted legislation (session laws), and rules and regulations. Where necessary, statewide initiatives created outside of policy were collected from state agencies. The information will be updated as changes occur.

      Sources for all data points are available through this link.

      Last updated: June 2008

      Research was conducted by Melodye Bush. Please contact Jennifer Dounay Zinth at 303-299-3689 or with comments or questions about this database.

    Other efforts/initiatives
    Alabama Onsite access to literacy coaches is currently restricted to grades K-3. Some schools and districts locally fund literacy coaches at the middle/high school level. The Alabama Reading Initiative provides training for those individuals. Expansion plans include a coaching component for grades 4-8.

    2007 legislative session funded the Alabama Reading Initiative at a level that will allow expansion of the program into middle grades and high schools.
    Arizona The state held three adolescent literacy forums throughout the state in 2007. The Governor's P-20 Council sponsored the forums. 
    Delaware The department of education developed the Success for Secondary Struggling Readers (SSSR) Institute in consultation with the University of Delaware and with input from reading specialists from across the state. The training is available to special education, English and content-area teachers of struggling readers in grades four through twelve. Teachers who complete the 90-hour program are eligible for a two percent pay raise.

    Delaware began piloting a literacy plan with rubrics in two districts in February 2007. In the 2007-2008 school year, all schools will need to include the literacy rubrics as they develop their consolidated plans. The requirement will likely be approved by the state board of education in 2007. For middle grade students, Delaware is also infusing literacy instruction strategies in vertical team training supported by the federal advanced placement expansion grant.
    District of Columbia
    • Governor Bush made reading a fundamental part of his state education agenda and established a statewide reading office - Just Read, Florida! - which coordinates state's K-12 literacy-related initiatives.
    • Legislation in 2006 included intensive reading and math intervention courses based on student performance of the state assessment tests. Districts were encouraged to use learning gains as well as other appropriate data and provide incentives to identify and reward high-performing teachers who teach credit recovery and intensive reading intervention courses or competency-based credit recovery courses.
    • Florida received an NGA Reading to Achieve grant in 2006 and has had multiple workgroup sessions charged with developing recommendations. Workgroups have invited researchers and experts to inform them and gather input which will result in recommendations to the legislative affairs office as well as general recommendations to the commissioner, the state board and the governor. A five year plan for K-12 literacy improvement will be completed by December 2007.
    • Each summer, Florida provides school level leadership teams including principals, literacy coaches and content area teachers the opportunity to plan for and receive literacy professional development through Reading Leadership Team Institutes and through a K-12 leadership conference. The K-12 leadership conference features leadership teams from Florida schools and districts who share their expertise and strategies for success through more than 300 breakout sessions and networking opportunities.


    Idaho In May 2007, a literacy summit was held to begin the development of a K-12 literacy initiative. The summit was used to build education stakeholders' knowledge of the state's literacy performance, current research on adolescent literacy, and instructional best practices. Following the summit, they began to develop a statewide information campaign and solicit public comment on proposed policy recommendations. Panel members briefed key stakeholders on the proposal, sought input on a plan for regional meetings and launched a web site initiative. Policy recommendations included:
    • A statewide report card to highlight successes and gaps in literacy across the state
    • Improving the ongoing formative and summative literacy assessments and district use of assessment data to inform development of curriculum and instruction
    • Strengthening teacher licensure and preparation requirements
    • Monitoring the state's efforts to improve literacy achievement with a progress monitoring tool.

    The recommendations and timeline were presented to the state department of education's middle school task force to review and incorporate into their working plan. The task force was established by the state superintendent to identify barriers to student achievement and develop recommendations that will be presented to the superintendent during the summer of 2008. 

    Illinois In 2004, the state department of education conducted a survey of adolescent reading in all districts in the state. The survey was called the Principal's Flip Chart for Reading in Grades 4-8.
    Kentucky Collaborative Center for Literacy Development: Early Childhood Through Adulthood (CCLD) is a partnership among eight state universities, the National Center for Family Literacy, the Kentucky Department of Education,  Kentucky Adult Education and others interested in literacy development. CCLD provides professional development and conducts research on adolescent literacy issues across the state.

    An Adolescent Literacy Task Force, funded by a grant from the National Association of State Boards of Education was the impetus for a 2008 Joint Resolution that calls for a statewide adolescent literacy framework to be in place by December 2009.
    Massachusetts Literacy task force subcommittees have proposed action plans for a P-20 literacy plan. Action plans include:
    • Revising curriculum frameworks to establish grade and course-level standards, and to integrate literacy skills and content area teaching
    • Implementing effective, standards-based, research-informed curricular and instructional practices for fundamental reading and writing skills, literacy across the curriculum and interventions for struggling readers and writers
    • Revising educator licensure and preparation programs
    • Developing collaborative partnerships among all stakeholders to improve literacy proficiency across the state.
    New Hampshire
    New Jersey The commissioner of education has formed a Task Force on Middle Grades Literacy Education to raise the profile of the literacy crisis in grades four through eight.

    The state has developed a model, "Literacy is Essential to Adolescent Development and Success" (LEADS), which was piloted in three school districts in 2006. Over 600 students participated, and 114 teachers were trained to teach in the pilot classrooms. The preliminary data was positive and the students will be tracked to determine overall gains in tests administered in spring 2007. The pilot districts will continue to receive assistance as they develop curriculum and integrate the model into the regular school year framework. An interdepartmental coordinating committee will ensure that the varied state offices disseminate consistent policies and guidance across the state. 
    New Mexico The Public School Reading Proficiency Fund has been created in the state treasury. The fund is to be administered by the department of education and appropriated to the department to distribute awards to public middle, junior and senior high schools that implement innovative, scientifically based reading programs. 
    New York
    North Carolina The department of public instruction collaborates with the Southern Regional Education Board and LearnNC to offer cross-disciplinary middle and high school teams intensive training in Reading and Writing for Learning.

    The reading advisory committee has developed a state strategic plan for reading literacy with extensive recommendations for policy and practice enhancements. The plan will go to the state board for approval.  Actions in the plan include:
    • Amending the curriculum to include literacy strategies in each content area and a focus on digital reading
    • Developing student assessment processes that provide for open-ended and performance assessments
    • Providing opportunities for leadership development for principals and central office staff
    • Enhancing preparation and professional development for elementary, middle and high school teachers
    • Analyzing needs for policy revision and development.
    North Dakota
    Rhode Island Governor Carcieri and the state department of education have provided a framework for schools and districts to create middle and high school literacy programs and services that incorporate state assessment, intervention and progress-monitoring requirements. Officials in the state monitor school and district implementation of a regulation requiring schools to provide interventions for students reading below grade level. Schools and districts must report to the state the number of students performing below grade level, the types of intervention employed, the progress of schoolwide literacy programs and the number of students with personal literacy plans.
    South Carolina South Carolina has extended a K-5 reading initiative to middle grades and high schools. The initiative is a partnership between the department of education, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the University of South Carolina that has trained coaches over a four-year period. As part of the four-year training, middle grades literacy coaches earn 36 hours of credit in graduate courses in literacy instruction and participate in monthly meetings. Many of the coaches have continued on to earn the nine additional credits required for a doctorate in language and literacy.
    South Dakota
    Virginia The department of education, in conjunction with a variety of consortia and universities, provides professional development in literacy for teachers in grades four through twelve. A literacy initiative for middle school teachers is supported by the School University regional Network at the College of William and Mary and a four-part video seminar on reading comprehensive delivered by the Southside Virginia Regional Technology Consortium for teachers in grades four through eight who teach in the south central regions of Virginia. James Madison University and the Virginia Department of Education provide summer content/teaching academies in core areas, including courses for secondary and special education teachers on reading and writing.

    To build momentum for improving adolescent literacy, the board of education held an Adolescent Literacy Policy Summit on May 1, 2007. A result of the summit was the reopening of the standards of accreditation by the board of education.

    The Virginia Department of Education works with the Appalachia Regional Comprehensive Center (ARCC) through a grant to build the SEA's capacity to assist divisions with the implementation of effective literacy programs across the curriculum. The State Improvement Grant (SIG) & State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG) promote the establishment of comprehensive literacy plans in secondary schools in participating divisions to meet the needs of all students, but particularly students with mild-moderate disabilities who are at risk of school failure.
    West Virginia
    Wisconsin The state superintendent has convened an adolescent literacy task force to develop a comprehensive adolescent literacy plan for Wisconsin. The target for completion of the task force's work is Winter 2008.

    The state has received a Wallace Foundation grant that provides support for the professional growth of principals. The "Wallace Fellows" are participating in a two-year project to transform school leadership in Wisconsin and develop a state and national model for a master administrator license.

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