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Feds Should Enlarge Role in Adolescent Literacy, Report Says

The federal government needs to substantially step up its role in promoting strong literacy skills at the middle and high school levels, according to a new policy brief from the Alliance for Excellent Education. The Washington-based research and advocacy group points to the pending reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as an opportunity to tackle the matter.

"The nation's approach to teaching reading is analogous to a builder laying the foundation of a house, but not following through to assist with the walls, windows, doors, and roof," said Bob Wise, the president of the alliance, in a press release. "America's students are getting help they need to become proficient readers in the early grades. Unfortunately, they are not being supported in building vocabulary and comprehension skills to master the more complex materials they will encounter in middle and high school across all of their classes."

The brief offers four recommendations:

• Support the state-led adoption and implementation of common English/language arts standards and aligned assessments that integrate literacy skills throughout subject areas;

• Support states and districts in developing comprehensive literacy plans for all students;

• Encourage states to strengthen teacher education and licensure through the design of performance-based systems that ensure teachers acquire competencies in literacy instruction; and

• Invest in ongoing research and evaluation to promote better understanding of adolescent literacy and pedagogical strategies to improve it.

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