Carnegie Corporation of New York Establishes an Advisory Council on Reading to Learn

Carnegie Corporation of New York's Education division has announced the formation of a Carnegie Advisory Council on Reading to Learn to help the foundation analyze how best to use its resources to develop and disseminate knowledge aimed at closing the many performance gaps in intermediate and adolescent literacy. The formation of the Council, which comprises scholars, practioners and representatives of the public, is a key element in Carnegie Corporation's Advancing Literacy: Reading to Learn strategic plan. The Corporation seeks a broader knowledge base for teaching successful reading beyond the third grade, greater awareness among educators, policymakers and the general public about the literacy crisis and fostering more favorable state and federal policies to assure funding streams and support systems for better literacy practices beyond grade three.

“Literacy skills involve more than being able to decode words: they must include the ability to sift through the richness of language to develop an effective vocabulary and understand the meaning of texts,” says Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York. “Although many students in American schools successfully master the mechanics of reading, too many never read to learn, which leads to failure in middle and high school and beyond. It is rather unfortunate that the country is not meeting this most vital of challenges. We believe it is crucial to the nation's future that we develop and expand on literacy education programs underway at the Corporation for the past two decades so that every child in every school in the U.S. is given the opportunity to become an educated citizen who can participate fully in every aspect of our national life.”

“The Corporation's strategy in pursuit of strengthening intermediate and adolescent literacy, from fourth grade through twelfth grade, is built largely on developing a sound framework for the nation to invest its resources wisely in treating the problem,” says Daniel Fallon, chair of the Corporation's Education division. “We plan to support ventures in research, policy and practice, while we simultaneously build national awareness of the importance of this focus on teaching children not only to read words but to understand what they're reading. We have established the Carnegie Advisory Council on Reading to Learn to ensure we lay a solid foundation for our initiative.”

“The Council will be the vehicle to develop work surrounding three important themes: research, policy and practice,” says Andrés Henríquez, program officer in the Education division at the Corporation, who leads the adolescent literacy work. “The Corporation is looking forward to working with a panel of experts and colleagues in the field to support research, bridge the research-to-practice gap, inform the field at large and infuse ‘best practices' work into classrooms regarding intermediate and adolescent literacy.”

Over a three-year period, the Council will advise the Corporation on how it can best use its resources to produce widespread improvements in intermediate and adolescent literacy. Drawing on Council members' own experiences, reviews of the literature, the work of Carnegie Corporation grantees and the testimony of individuals and groups that appear to be effective in enabling adolescents to achieve greater literacy, the Council will propose promising strategies for the improvement of intermediate and adolescent literacy. The Council will also assess the existing state of adolescent literacy in the United States, identify key barriers to improvement and possible means to overcome those barriers.

The RAND Corporation, a research institute, will provide the initial technical assistance to support the Reading to Learn Council. In preparation for the project, leading researchers at the RAND Corporation will conduct a careful review of the scientific literature and a scan of effective practices and, informed by this work, assist Carnegie Corporation in developing the Council's mission and help identify and select Council members. Appointments to the Carnegie Advisory Council on Reading to Learn will be completed by spring 2004.

Carnegie Corporation of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote "the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding." As a grantmaking foundation, the Corporation seeks to carry out Carnegie's vision of philanthropy, which he said should aim "to do real and permanent good in the world." The Corporation's capital fund, originally donated at a value of about $135 million, had a market value of $1.6 billion on September 30, 2002. The Corporation awards grants totaling approximately $80 million a year in the areas of education, international peace and security, international development and strengthening U.S. democracy.