The International Literacy Association (ILA) released the 2017 What’s Hot in Literacy survey findings today, revealing wide gaps between what educators across the globe consider important topics in literacy education and those garnering the most attention. Among the surprising results: Digital literacy, as well as assessment and standards, although widely discussed in educator circles, rank lower in importance than other issues among the more than 1,500 literacy leaders from 89 countries and territories surveyed.
“An analysis of survey findings from a cross-sector of literacy leaders from Argentina to Zambia indicates a need to redirect conversations around literacy with a focus on what is important to literacy educators,” said ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “Identifying these gaps, and then developing solutions to narrow them, will help the global community move the needle on literacy.”
This year, respondents were asked to rate 17 topics in terms of how hot and important they are to literacy education at both their community and country levels. Hot was defined as trending—the topics related to literacy that are receiving the most attention in the classroom, in conversations with other educators, and in the media. Important was defined as topics that are most critical to advancing literacy for all learners.
Here’s a look at some of the key findings:
- Parent Engagement should be a higher priority, according to survey respondents. It had the largest gap between hot and important ratings at both the community and country levels.
- Teacher Professional Learning and Development is extremely valued by educators. Although it would be easy to label this both hot and important, that’s not the case, according to respondents. For instance, at the country level, only 47% rated it as very or extremely hot, while 71% rated it as very or extremely important.
- Assessment/Standards is viewed as a hot topic, but not as important to respondents. It ranked No. 1 among all hot topics at the community and country levels, but it fell to No. 10 in terms of actual importance at the country level and No. 12 at the community level.
In addition to featuring report highlights and feedback from top literacy professionals in Literacy Today, the entire report is also available with open access on ILA’s website. On Thursday, Jan. 12, ILA’s monthly Twitter chat will feature What’s Hot results and Sam Patterson at 8:00 p.m. ET. Join the conversation on social media using #ILAchat during the chat or #ILAWhatsHot at any time.
The What’s Hot in Literacy survey was created 20 years ago by Jack Cassidy, past president of the International Reading Association (IRA), now ILA. Cassidy compiled responses from about two dozen literacy leaders on “hot” and “cold” topics each year. The results were published annually in IRA’s member newspaper, now Literacy Today magazine, and they traditionally helped foster relevant professional development, promote timely research, and shape conversations around literacy education. His last report was published in 2016.
April Hall is editor of Literacy Daily. A journalist for more than 20 years, she has specialized in education, writing and editing for newspapers, websites, and magazines.