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A New Set of Standards for Professional Preparation

By April Hall
 | Feb 07, 2017

The International Literacy Association (ILA) has a track record of setting standards for the literacy field. Every five years, a committee of teacher educators is convened to revise professional preparation standards to stay current with the changing skills and support needed in the classroom. A new revision is underway, and Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals 2017 (Standards 2017) will be published in 2018.

Rita  Beanphoto
Rita Bean

Standards 2017 establishes criteria for literacy professional preparation programs throughout the United States and will also be a resource for states, policymakers and those hiring literacy professionals. The Standards describe what candidates for the literacy profession should know and be able to do in professional settings. They are the result of a deliberative process that draws from professional expertise and research in the literacy field.

Several key shifts have informed the revision process. First, the title is changed from Standards for Reading Professionals to Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals, reflecting the shift to incorporate all facets of literacy in ILA’s mission. Second, Standards 2017 delineates three roles of specialized literacy professionals: reading/literacy specialist, literacy coach, and literacy supervisor/coordinator. These changes were informed by research conducted in a U.S. study and reported in an ILA brief, The Multiple Roles of School-Based Specialized Literacy Professionals. Third, the committee is revising guidance for the roles of classroom teachers, principals, teacher educators, and literacy partners. Last, Standards 2017 includes a new standard for practicum experiences for the role of the reading/literacy specialist.

diane kern headshot
Diane Kern

The proposed revisions to the Standards for the three roles of the specialized literacy professionals were first presented at the ILA 2016 Conference & Exhibits and posted on ILA’s website. April 17–May 8, the current draft will be available for public comment on the ILA website. Reviewers may offer feedback on standards for the specialized literacy professional roles and for three classroom teacher roles: preschool/primary, elementary/intermediate, and middle/high school.

“The results of the working committee include a major shift for reading/literacy specialists,” said Rita Bean, committee co-chair and professor emeritus at University of Pittsburgh. “We believe the revised Standards will provide a more precise and comprehensive description of the roles of each of the specialized literacy professionals. As such, the Standards will be helpful not only to those preparing literacy professionals but also to personnel responsible for hiring them.” 

“We’re preparing not only literacy specialists, but also expert literacy teachers who can take on a role of leadership,” said Diane Kern, committee co-chair and associate professor at the University of Rhode Island. 

A revised Standards 2017 draft, incorporating feedback from the public comment period, will be presented at the ILA 2017 Conference & Exhibits in Orlando, FL, in July. Standards 2017 will then go to the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Once approved, ILA’s new standards will support CAEP’s evaluation of educator preparation programs.

April Hall is editor of Literacy Daily. A journalist for 20 years, she has specialized in education, writing and editing for newspapers, websites, and magazines.


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