Real-World Literacy Summit 2019

Free Online Event: Real-World Literacy Summit 2019

Do Students Have the Right Literacy Skills for Job Success?

Download a PDF of the key takeaways

Schools are under growing pressure to make sure that students are ready for work or job training, as well as college, when they graduate. But employers often complain that their young hires haven’t learned the reading, writing, speaking, and digital skills they need on the job. How can educators bridge the gap between reality and expectations, when it comes to these complex skills?

In this virtual summit, Education Week journalists and their guests will staff online "discussion" rooms to help unpack some of the literacy skills that today’s evolving workplace demands and point to some efforts already underway to instill those skills in young people.

This Online Summit provides you a unique opportunity:

    • To directly interact with reporters and their guests; and
    • To watch a livestreamed series of interviews with the reporters after they’ve “broken it down” with you.

Join the Education Week newsroom on April 16, 2019, for a deep dive into the kinds of “new” literacies of the workplace and schools’ attempts to teach them.

Thank you to those who joined us for this event, which took place on April 16, 2019. Below, you can watch the reporter wrap-up we streamed at the end of the event.


April 16, 2019
1-3 p.m. ET*

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Event Video

Real-World Literacy Summit 2019: In Conversation With Education Week

  • 1:00–2:30 p.m. ET | Discussion Rooms Open
    Education Week journalists and guests provide practical takeaways on K-12 literacy.

    Room 1: How We Can Teach Students to Speak Knowledgeably and Confidently
    Moderator: Catherine Gewertz, Senior Contributing Writer, Education Week
    Guest: Lynn Pasquerella, President, Association of American Colleges and Universities
    ‣ Eighty percent of executives and hiring managers say that good verbal skills are very important for job candidates. But fewer than half think recent college graduates’ oral-literacy skills are up to snuff. Gewertz will explore why oral communication is rarely taught or tested, and how some adults are working to ensure that students have the speaking skills necessary for today’s workplace.

    Room 2: Teaching Digital Literacy
    Moderator: Benjamin Herold, Staff Writer, Education Week
    Guest: Mark Muro, Senior Fellow and Policy Director, Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program
    ‣ As American workplaces become more reliant on technology, the skills needed to succeed have less to do with computer programming than what experts call "digital literacy"—the ability to interpret, create, and strategically use digital information. Herold will examine how digital-literacy can transfer to the workplace, and how schools can build a strong foundation for the skills required.

    Room 3: How to Teach Professional Writing in the Context of Traditional English Classrooms
    Moderator: Sarah Sparks, Assistant Editor, Education Week
    Guests: Steve Graham, Warner Professor in the Division of Leadership and Innovation, Teachers College, Columbia University, N.Y.; Tony Nassivera, History Teacher, Hudson Falls Central Schools, Hudson Falls, N.Y.
    ‣ Even in the wake of new academic standards in most states that encourage more writing, educators and researchers find writing instruction inconsistent and more focused on academic than practical writing. In a world where students prefer texting over emailing, how can schools define what workplace writing is, and how to teach it?

    Room 4: How to Make Reading Relevant
    Moderator: Stephen Sawchuk, Associate Editor, Education Week
    Guests: Travis Park, Associate Professor of Agricultural Education, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C.; Larissa VanderZee, English Language Arts Instruction, Career-Tech Center, Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District, Traverse City, Mich.
    ‣ Employers say they want students to synthesize information from different disciplines, to think critically, and know how to analyze documents. How can career and technical education support a rich reading experience in their courses? In this booth, a CTE researcher and practitioner talk about how textbooks, nonfiction news articles, and technical documentation can be used to support reading goals.

    Room 5: Should Schools Test Workplace Skills?
    Moderator: Alyson Klein, Assistant Editor, Education Week
    Guests: Anne Hyslop, Assistant Director for Policy Development and Government Relations, Alliance for Excellent Education; Ryan Reyna, Director, Education Strategy Group
    ‣ Many states want to include measurements of workplace skills in their new state testing plans; some states already use standardized exams like ACT’s Workkeys. But this field is still in its infancy. In this field we’ll examine what options are on the table for measuring readiness for the workforce and explore what you’re doing in your schools to ensure students are prepared for exciting careers.

    Room 6: Reading for the Challenge of the Real World
    Moderator: Lela Astrom, Former Reading Teacher
    Guests: Rita Wright, National Academic Advisor, Renaissance; Eric Stickney, Senior Director of Educational Research, Renaissance
    ‣ Students will face many reading challenges after high school graduation: high levels of text complexity, large quantities of nonfiction, and the need to quickly and independently learn new topics via informational texts. Yet recent research suggests students get very little practice in these areas, especially in the upper grades.
    Join this discussion to explore proven best practices for helping students to gain the essential literacy skills they’ll need for real-world success. Our guests, a curriculum expert and an educational researcher, will share instructional strategies, insights on reading practice and motivation, and more.

    Room 7: Is Literacy the Key to Post-Secondary Success? How Academic Language Impacts Success in All Subject Areas.
    Moderator: Lori Kirksted, Content Marketing Manager, Lexia Learning
    Guest: Alyson Deutsch, Vice President, Curriculum & Assessment, Lexia Learning
    ‣ As students progress through school, they are expected to demonstrate increasing levels of sophistication in their language and reading skills. Join this discussion to learn why strong academic language skills are critical for reading comprehension in all content areas and how these skills translate into postsecondary achievement in the workforce.

    Room 8: Using Argumentation Practice to Prepare All Students for 21st-Century Success
    Moderator: Christopher Balow, Ph.D., Executive Director of Research, ThinkCERCA
    Guests: Eileen Murphy Buckley, Founder & CEO, ThinkCERCA; Wendy Ranck-Buhr, Instructional Support Officer, San Diego Unified School District; Nicole Lambson, Executive Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessments, Farmington Municipal School District, Farmington, N.M.; Jim Montgomery, Principal, Miller Fine Arts Magnet Middle School, Macon, Ga.
    ‣ In the era of fake news, providing students the skills to decipher information is all too critical. For students to be prepared for the world ahead, they need to be able to make claims, support their claims with evidence, explain their reasoning, address counterarguments, and use audience-appropriate language. Join this discussion to learn about the latest research behind argumentation as a pathway to 21st-century success. Participants will discover strategies for implementing argumentation as a core, district-wide literacy practice while learning how they can provide educators with a shared practice for equipping students with the skills to handle whatever life brings them.

    Room 9: Why Students Struggle to Read: What Teachers Don't Know About Teaching Reading & How to Change It
    Moderator: Louisa Moats, Literacy Expert, Researcher, and Author of LETRS® professional development for literacy educators
    Guest: Alana Cohen, District ELA Curriculum Specialist K–5, Rapides Parish School Board, Alexandria, La.
    ‣ For students who struggle to read, academic and career success can be elusive. Join author and respected reading expert Dr. Louisa Moats for an enlightening exploration on what educators need to know to transform struggle into success.

  • 2:30–3:00 p.m. ET | Final Reporter Wrap-up
    Real-World Literacy Summit: In Conversation With Education Week
    Led by Assistant Managing Editor Debbie Viadero, our newsroom reporters will close out the day with insights from the discussions they’ve had with you, the Education Week readers.

Guests, Speakers, and Moderators

Catherine Gewertz
Senior Contributing Writer
Education Week

Gewertz is a reporter covering assessment and pathways from the middle grades to high school and beyond. Since joining Education Week in 1999, she has been the lead common-core reporter and has covered urban schools. Previously, Gewertz was a staff writer at United Press International and The Los Angeles Times.

Steve Graham
Warner Professor in the Division of Leadership and Innovation
Teachers College
Columbia University, N.Y.

For more than 30 years Graham has studied how writing develops, how to teach it effectively, and how writing can be used to support reading and learning. In recent years, he has been involved in the development and testing of digital tools for supporting writing and reading through a series of grants from the Institute of Educational Sciences and the Office of Special Education Programs in the U.S. Department of Education. His research involves typically developing writers and students with special needs in both elementary and secondary schools—with much of that work occurring in classrooms in urban schools.

Benjamin B. Herold
Staff Writer
Education Week

Herold is a reporter covering educational technology for Education Week. He joined Education Week in 2013. Previously, Herold covered the Philadelphia school district for WHYY public radio station and the Philadelphia Public School Notebook. He has won awards as the nation's top education beat reporter and for his feature reporting on the city's mass school closings. He has previously worked as a policy researcher, an independent documentary filmmaker, and a training specialist for rape-crisis and domestic-violence-prevention organizations.

Anne Hyslop
Assistant Director for Policy Development and Government Relations
Alliance for Excellent Education

In her role at the Alliance for Excellent Education, Hyslop works with states to build systems that promote equity and excellence and with policymakers, advocates, and thought leaders to build understanding of states’ policy choices as they implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). From 2014–2016, she served as senior policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Education where she led the agency’s efforts to write regulations for accountability, school improvement, and innovative assessments under ESSA. Through past work for Chiefs for Change, Bellwether Education Partners, and New America Foundation, she has provided technical assistance to policymakers, conducted research, and written extensively on school accountability, high school exit exams, and college and career readiness.

Alyson Klein
Assistant Editor
Education Week

Klein is a reporter for Education Week who covers the Trump administration's K-12 policy, Every Student Succeeds Act implementation, and the politics of education. She has discussed education news on CNN, National Public Radio, C-SPAN, PBS, and other news outlets.

Mark Muro
Senior Fellow and Policy Director
Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program

Muro focuses on regional technology ecosystems and economic development and has published extensively on digital trends, automation, advanced industries, and regional development issues. His most recent work has focused on the “digitalization of everything” as it affects efforts to construct an “advanced economy that works for all.” Muro’s most recent report for Brookings was “Automation and Artificial Intelligence: How Machines Are Affecting People and Places.” He is also the author of the special report “Digitalization and the American Workforce.” Additional work over the last year has been focused on the divergence of community economic performance and the divide between “superstar cities” and “places left behind.”

Tony Nassivera
History Teacher
Hudson Falls Central Schools
Hudson Falls, N.Y.

Since 1996, Nassivera has taught every level of history from 7th to 12th grade, but he has spent much of the past decade focused on participation in government and economics. The core of his teachings have employed tactics to better prepare students for real world applications. To accomplish the development of this skill set in students, he employs the cultivation of professional-world writing through modeling examples and inviting professionals into the classroom.

Travis Park
Associate Professor of Agricultural Education
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, N.C.

Park is an associate professor of agricultural education in the agricultural and human sciences department in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University. He taught high school agriculture at Tri-County High School in Wolcott, Indiana, for more than 5 years. He is the president-elect for the National Council for Agricultural Education. His research focuses on agricultural literacy and effective methods of preparing preservice agriculture teachers, and he also provides professional development for career and technical education teachers nationwide.

Lynn Pasquerella
Association of American Colleges and Universities

Pasquerella was appointed president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities in 2016, after serving as the eighteenth president of Mount Holyoke College from 2010-2-16. She was the provost at the University of Hartford, from 2008 to 2010, and was the vice provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Rhode Island, where she began her career as an ethics professor in 1985.

A philosopher whose work has combined teaching and scholarship with local and global engagement, Pasquerella champions liberal education, access to excellence in higher education, and civic engagement. She has written extensively on medical ethics, metaphysics, public policy, and the philosophy of law and is the host of Northeast Public Radio’s The Academic Minute. Pasquerella is a member of the advisory Board of the Newman’s Own Foundation, sits on the boards of the Lingnan Foundation and the National Humanities Alliance and is president of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

Ryan Reyna
Education Strategy Group

Reyna leads Education Strategy Group’s (ESG) efforts to build bridges between K-12 and higher education to promote seamless postsecondary transitions for students—especially those from traditionally underserved populations. He also supports states in developing and implementing accountability systems that meaningfully measure students’ college and career readiness. Prior to joining ESG, Reyna served as director of the Office of Accountability and Data Management at the Delaware Department of Education. In that role, he led the state’s efforts to develop a new multi-measure accountability system, centralize the data reporting and analysis functions within the Department, develop its ESEA Flexibility Waiver renewal application, and annually report on Pre-K through higher education outcomes.

Prior to his time in Delaware, Reyna served as a program director in the education division at the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center). At the NGA Center, he led the division’s support of governors’ offices on numerous issues, including college and career ready standards, assessment, accountability, and transitions into postsecondary education and training. He also previously held senior policy analyst and policy analyst positions at the NGA Center and worked as a research associate at the Data Quality Campaign.

Stephen Sawchuk
Associate Editor
Education Week

Sawchuk covers curriculum and instruction, with a focus on the Common Core State Standards, literacy, social studies, and STEM. A veteran education reporter with 10 years' experience writing about K-12 education, Sawchuk formerly covered the teaching profession for Education Week. He joined the newspaper in 2008 and was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan from 2016-17.

Sarah D. Sparks
Assistant Editor
Education Week

Sparks is a reporter for Education Week who has covered education research and the science of learning for more than a decade. She joined Education Week in 2010, and has published on education and other issues in Education Daily, the Republican-American, the Wall Street Journal, National Geographic Traveler, and others.

Larissa VanderZee
English Language Arts Instruction
Career-Tech Center
Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District
Traverse City, Mich.

VanderZee has been an English instructor for 19 years. She got her start teaching honors-level 10th grade ELA, 12th grade World Literature, and AP Language and Composition at Central High School in Traverse City, Mich. From there she moved to teach freshman-level composition at Northwestern Michigan College as an adjunct. Currently, she works as an English instructor for the Allied Health program at the Career-Tech Center within the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District. She focuses acutely on critical reading skills, rhetorical communication skills, and effective written communication skills appropriate for varied tasks and rhetorical situations.