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Literacy Research Panel Vision Statement

 | Apr 30, 2012

The Literacy Research Panel presentation at the IRA Annual Convention on Monday, April 30, included a discussion of the Panel's history, goals, and challenges with panel members Peter Afflerbach, Amy Correa, Nell Duke, Peter Freebody, Virginia Goatley, John Guthrie, Kris Gutierrez, Kenji Hakuta, Peter Johnston, Gloria Ladson-Billings, Nonie Leseaux, Elizabeth Moje, Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar, P. David Pearson (Chair), Linda Phillips, Timothy Shanahan, Catherine Snow, Karen Wixson, and Victoria Risko (ex officio). Below is the Vision Statement that was shared at that event: 

"Students in kindergarten today will live with a level of complexity that those of us who are adults now can barely imagine. They are destined to live in a globalized society, facing literacy demands that are increasingly varied and consequential, and that change rapidly. Active, successful participation in personal, civic, academic and work life will demand that all young people master complex individual and collaborative literate practices and develop dispositions that ensure continued learning beyond the school years. Yet, educational policies and practices have produced broad disengagement among our youth and have become a major obstacle to achieving this goal. Inequities in educational attainment, including high dropout rates for some groups and income-related achievement gaps, in many ways reflect insufficient opportunities to pursue personally and socially meaningful questions in school. These inequities, which particularly beset poor youth, deprive them of access not only to further education, rewarding careers, and other societal opportunities, but also to fulfilling lives in school. 

"IRA’s goal is to ensure that the next generation is prepared for fulfilling personal, civic, academic and work lives. IRA’s vision for achieving this goal is that schools must be transformed into places where students at all levels of schooling are actively engaged in personally and socially meaningful learning and inquiry. If students are to acquire the knowledge and tools that allow full participation in society, they must have opportunities to be both cognitively and affectively engaged in learning. It is through asking and answering personally and socially relevant questions that students learn content, practice skills, and learn to act strategically to accomplish goals. Engagement and initiative are natural consequences of such practices. So too, are critical thinking, argumentation, weighing multiple sources of evidence, managing productive discussions, and other competencies including those advocated in the Common Core Standards.

"IRA’s vision can be accomplished by focusing on practices and contexts that foster engagement such as: (a) involving students in recognizing and responding to actual problems in their lives or in society, (b) teaching reading and writing as integrated tools for learning and for crafting solutions to important, meaningful problems, (c) helping students to take individual and collaborative control of, and responsibility for, their learning, (d) recognizing that cognitive challenge, in the context of engagement, is a source of motivation, and (e) making engagement, relevance, and initiative central pillars of teaching and learning. A shift in assessment is also necessary to capitalize on and enhance engagement. Classroom assessment should provide instructionally useful indicators of extended engagements with literacy and learning. Because assessments are always limited reflections of learning, if they are used in ways that make them the goal of instruction, they will undermine student learning.

"Creating the contexts necessary for realizing IRA’s vision requires preparing highly skilled teachers who know how to generate active student engagement, redesigning curricula and content standards to focus on big, relevant ideas, and reallocating school time so that pacing guides, ‘coverage,’ test preparation, and assessment do not interfere with learning. This in turn demands extensive, evidence-based professional development for district and school leaders as well as teachers, based on the same principles as those for student learning."


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International Reading Association Research Resources

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