Radical changes are needed in teacher education and professional development to prepare educators to meet students’ literacy needs throughout the K-12 years, the latest in a series of books from the National Academy of Education concludes.
The 304-page book outlines recommendations for infusing preservice programs with essential literacy content and strategies. It also encourages a view of teacher education that evolves throughout educators’ careers and that pairs skilled educators with novice ones.
“Ninety-nine percent of the teachers in middle schools and high schools are prepared to teach in their content area, not to teach comprehension in their content area,” said Catherine E. Snow, an influential reading researcher at Harvard University who chaired the panel that wrote the book.
Preservice programs should incorporate more content on the reading development and instructional needs of students throughout the elementary and secondary grades, and include methods of assessing their reading development and identifying potential problems, the book says. Titled Knowledge to Support the Teaching of Reading: Preparing Teachers for a Changing World, it was edited by Ms. Snow, Peg Griffin, and M. Susan Burns and was released in December.
“Teacher-educators must start working the way excellent teachers work, by imposing on their own profession a recurrent cycle of learning, enactment, assessment, and reflection,” the book says.
The group that produced the book, the National Academy of Education’s reading subcommittee, is part of the NAE’s committee on teacher education, a panel of experts that has been working for more than a year to outline a core knowledge base for teachers. The committee on teacher education has placed special emphasis on helping teachers understand and address children’s changing literacy needs, particularly in middle and high schools.
The Washington-based education academy—a private, invitation-only group of distinguished academics—acknowledges that research to determine the best approaches to teacher education in the area of reading is inadequate. But, it says, enough information is available on effective strategies and methods that can be put into practice.