Adolescent Literacy: Virginia

2017 Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy

Goal

The state should ensure that new middle school and secondary teachers are fully prepared for the instructional shifts related to literacy associated with college-and career-readiness standards. This goal was reorganized in 2017.

Meets in part

Analysis of Virginia's policies

Informational Texts: Virginia's preparation standards and tests for all middle and secondary school teachers do not address the instructional shifts associated with college- and career-readiness standards toward building content knowledge and vocabulary through careful reading of informational and literary texts.

Literacy Skills: Virginia requires middle and secondary school teachers to take three hours of coursework in "reading in the content areas." This coursework must "impart an understanding of comprehension skills in all content areas, including a repertoire of questioning strategies, summarizing and retelling skills, and strategies in literal, interpretive, critical, and evaluative comprehension, as well as the ability to foster appreciation of a variety of literature and independent reading."

Citation

Recommendations for Virginia

Ensure that middle and secondary school teachers are prepared to meet the instructional requirements of college- and career-readiness standards for students.

Incorporate informational text of increasing complexity into classroom instruction.

Virginia should specifically address the instructional shifts toward building content knowledge and vocabulary through increasingly complex informational texts and careful reading of informational and literary texts associated with the state's college- and career-readiness standards for students. The state may consider addressing these shifts either through testing frameworks in tests taken by all middle or secondary teachers regardless of subject area (such as a teaching methods tests), or through teacher preparation standards.

State response to our analysis

Virginia reiterated that Middle Education 6-8 teacher candidates must take six semester hours in reading. Both middle education and secondary endorsement areas include content knowledge and vocabulary through a variety of texts. The state also cited Virginia administrative code regarding professional studies requirements for middle and secondary candidates, which are discussed in NCTQ's analysis. In addition, the state cited 8 VAC 20-22-120, which requires:

Section 120 - Regulations Governing the Review and Approval of Education Programs in Virginia
Middle education 6-8
1. Methods.
a. Understanding of the required knowledge, skills, and processes to support learners in achievement of the Virginia Standards of Learning for grades 6-8;
b. The use of appropriate methods, including direct instruction, to help learners develop knowledge and skills, sustain intellectual curiosity, and solve problems;
c. The ability to plan and teach collaboratively to facilitate interdisciplinary learning;
d. The use of differentiated instruction and flexible groupings to meet the needs of preadolescents at different stages of development, abilities, and achievement;
e. The ability to utilize effective classroom and behavior management skills through methods that shall build responsibility and self-discipline and maintain a positive learning environment;
f. The ability to modify and manage learning environments and experiences to meet the individual needs of preadolescents, including children with disabilities, gifted children, and children with limited proficiency in the English language;
g. The ability to use formal and informal assessments to diagnose needs, plan and modify instruction, and record student progress;
h. A commitment to professional growth and development through reflection, collaboration, and continuous learning;
i. The ability to analyze, evaluate, apply, and conduct quantitative and qualitative research;
j. The ability to use technology as a tool for teaching, learning, research, and communication;
k. An understanding of how to apply a variety of school organizational structures, schedules, groupings, and classroom formats appropriately for middle level learners;
l. Skill in promoting the development of all students' abilities for academic achievement and continued learning; and
m. The ability to use reading in the content area strategies appropriate to text and student needs.

2. English.
a. Possession of the skills necessary to teach the writing process, to differentiate among the forms of writing (narrative, descriptive, informational, and persuasive), and to use computers and other available technology;
b. Understanding of and knowledge in grammar, usage, and mechanics and its integration in writing;
c. Understanding and the nature and development of language and its impact on vocabulary development and spelling;
d. Understanding of and knowledge in techniques and strategies to enhance reading comprehension and fluency;
e. Understanding of and knowledge in the instruction of speaking, and listening, and note taking; and
f. Knowledge of varied works from current and classic young adult literature appropriate for English instruction of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Updated: December 2017

How we graded

3C: Adolescent Literary 

The state should ensure that all middle and secondary teachers are sufficiently prepared for the ways that college- and career-readiness standards affect instruction in all subject areas. Specifically,

  • Middle School Preparation: The state should ensure that all new middle and secondary teachers are prepared to incorporate informational texts of increasing complexity into instruction.
  • Secondary Preparation: The state should ensure that all new middle and secondary teachers are prepared to incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject.
Middle School Preparation
One-half of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if at least one of the two components is "fully addressed" and one is "partially addressed."
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if one of the two components is "fully addressed" or two are "partially addressed."
Secondary Preparation
One-half of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if at least one of the two components is "fully addressed" and one is "partially addressed."
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if one of the two components is "fully addressed" or two are "partially addressed."

Research rationale

States must ensure that middle school and secondary teacher preparation programs prepare teachers to incorporate complex text into instruction and student practice. These are critical years of schooling when far too many students fall through the cracks.

With that said, college- and career-readiness standards are influencing significant shifts in literacy instruction.
College- and career-readiness standards for K-12 students adopted by nearly all states require from teachers a different focus on literacy integrated into all subject areas.[1] The standards demand that teachers are prepared to bring complex text and academic language into regular use, emphasize the use of evidence from informational and literary texts, and build knowledge and vocabulary through content-rich texts. While most states have not ignored teachers' need for training and professional development related to these instructional shifts, states must also attend to the parallel need to align teacher competencies and requirements for teacher preparation so that new teachers will enter the classroom ready to help students meet the expectations of these standards.


[1] Student Achievement Partners. (2015). Research supporting the Common Core ELA/literacy shifts and standards. Retrieved from https://achievethecore.org/content/upload/Research%20Supporting%20the%20ELA%20Standards%20and%20Shifts%20Final.pdf