Adolescent Literacy: Pennsylvania

2017 General Teacher Prep Programs 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 a small part

Analysis of Pennsylvania's policies

Informational Texts: Pennsylvania'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: Regarding literacy in other content areas, Pennsylvania's 4-8 Program Guidelines articulate that "courses and related candidate experiences must describe clearly how the content knowledge and skills development described [within] is embedded in the proposed program." Outlined within this required skill set is "literacy in the content areas," which requires that "to ensure that middle level teachers have the knowledge and skills to promote this development, the program must include courses with explicit links between literacy and each of the main content areas."

The state also outlines "literacy in the middle level content areas: mathematics, science and social studies." Science content "must focus on the integration of learning science with reading and writing, use of texts, and graphical representations." Social studies content "must address the five Carnegie elements, the role of technology in teaching and learning for literacy in the social sciences, and what the International Reading Association calls 'an integrated system of reading, discussion, and writing about literary and informational text.'"

The state's teaching candidate secondary competencies are too broad to be considered addressing the incorporation of literacy into other content areas. For example, secondary candidates must be able to "Create lessons that demonstrate an understanding of literacy both broadly and in discipline contexts" and "create lessons that support literacy across the curriculum."

Citation

Recommendations for Pennsylvania

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.

Pennsylvania 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.

Incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject.

Pennsylvania should ensure that teacher preparation standards include literacy skills and using text to build content knowledge in history/social studies, science, technical subjects and the arts to ensure that secondary school students are capable of accessing varied information about the world around them.

State response to our analysis

Pennsylvania indicated that the grades 4-8 and Secondary Program Guidelines include literacy across all subject areas. Competencies in both Framework Guidelines includes reading of both fiction and non-fiction texts.

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