New Report Demonstrates How to Re-Engineer Literacy Instruction Across the Curriculum to Drive Student Achievement in All Subjects


Time to Act Links Adolescent Literacy Instruction to Common Core Standards; Race to the Top; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education; English Language Learners Education; and College and Career Readiness

A new report from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY), Time to Act: An Agenda for Advancing Adolescent Literacy for College and Career Readiness, pinpoints adolescent literacy as a cornerstone of the current education reform movement, upon which efforts such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act must be built. The report's recommended actions point out important intersections with the $4.35 billion Race to the Top competitive grant guidelines with their emphasis on standards and assessments, data systems, great teachers and leaders, and efforts to turn around struggling schools. Additionally, the report is released as the Senate considers the introduction of a bill that would authorize $2.35 billion annually for five years for birth to grade twelve literacy instruction, 40 percent of which would go to adolescent literacy. These funds would dramatically increase the federal support for adolescent literacy efforts.

On the heels of the World Economic Forum's recent pronouncement that the United States lost its place to Switzerland as the world's most competitive economy, education thought leaders convened today to discuss this watershed report that culminates and analyzes years of research on literacy instruction. The report notes the downward spiral of adolescent reading achievement levels: U.S. students in grade four score among the best in the world, yet by tenth-grade students score among the lowest in the world. The report provides steps for leaders at all levels to combat this unsustainable trend for the United States.

"As schools consider how to re-engineer to meet the demands of the 21st century, they must also establish a culture of literacy," stated Vartan Gregorian, president of CCNY. "Integrating literacy instruction across the curriculum is critical for students to master the skills required for college and careers."

Complementing the recently released The Opportunity Equation: Transforming Mathematics and Science Education for Citizenship and the Global Economy by CCNY and the Institute for Advanced Study Commission on Mathematics and Science Education, which is a call to action to transform math and science education, Time to Act gives concrete examples of how to redesign schools and promote excellence in all content areas through a renewed focus on literacy. Specifically, Time To Act recommends the nation (1) give teachers literacy-focused instructional tools and formative assessments, (2) encourage schools and districts to collect and use information about student literacy performance more efficiently, and (3) call upon state-level leaders to maximize the use of limited resources for literacy efforts in a strategic way.

"Addressing the literacy gap that emerges in middle school is a key element in driving forward national education reform efforts," stated Andres Henriquez, program officer of CCNY's Advancing Literacy Initiative. "This requires schools to provide improved literacy instruction in all content areas, particularly to those who struggle, as well as continual assessments of needs and progress."

Time to Act is the capstone report of Carnegie Council for Advancing Adolescent Literacy (Council). Since 2004, under the direction of Council Chairperson Catherine Snow, professor in the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Council has gathered knowledge and ideas from experts nationwide on topics ranging from linguistics to the social science of teaching. Time to Act is released with five corresponding reports, which delve deeper into how to advance literacy and learning for all students, including such topics as the cost of implementing adolescent literacy programs and reading in the disciplines.

At the report release, former Governor Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, led a discussion on Time to Act's policy implications for pressing issues in education with Marshall Smith, senior advisor in the Department of Education; Bethany Little, chief education counsel for the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; and Adrienne Dunbar, education policy advisor for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor.

To underscore the linkage of literacy in all education reform efforts, Michele Cahill, vice president of CCNY, led a panel discussion between Gene Wilhoit, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers; David Coleman, CEO and founder of Student Achievement Partners; and John Garvey, former dean of the Teacher Academy and Collaborative Programs at City University of New York, on Time to Act's implications for common core standards; post-secondary academic demands; and college and career readiness to highlight the necessity of adolescent literacy in each of those areas.