Cross-Curricular Standards Issued for Reading Coaches

By Sean Cavanagh — November 08, 2005 2 min read

A coalition of organizations has issued standards describing the professional and subject-matter skills that middle and high school “literacy coaches” should possess.

“Standards for Middle and High School Literacy Coaches” is posted by the International Reading Association.

Literacy coaches, whose profiles have risen in recent years, not only need expertise in building reading skills among students, but should also have the versatility and diplomacy to work with potentially skeptical teachers in a variety of subjects, according to the standards released last week.

“Standards for Middle and High School Literacy Coaches” zeroes in on the work of reading specialists at higher grade levels, noting that they face challenges their counterparts at the elementary level do not.

The document was published by the Newark, Del.-based International Reading Association. The National Council of Teachers of English, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Science Teachers Association, and the National Council for the Social Studies collaborated on the project.

“There’s a recognition that all of these subjects are linked, and we can’t just deal with them in isolation,” said Alan E. Farstrup, the IRA’s executive director. “We took into account very carefully the subject matter each of the associations was concerned about.”

Subject-Matter Strength

The new standards follow a 2003 IRA report, “Standards for Reading Professionals,” that spelled out other qualifications for literacy specialists. The latest standards are meant to complement the earlier document by looking at the content-matter knowledge reading specialists need to help students in different classes, such as math.

That issue is of particular concern at the middle and high school levels, where students typically move from one class to the next, and teachers are generally focused on presenting specific subjects rather than on working with struggling readers, the new set of standards says.

While its drafters did not have a firm estimate of the number of literacy coaches nationwide, it is believed that an increasing number of districts have hired them in recent years, partly with the help of funding from the federal Reading First program. (“States and Districts Send Literacy Coaches to the Rescue,” July 27, 2005.)

Literacy coaches have to be able to persuade subject-matter teachers to help blend reading strategies into already-packed class schedules, the standards say. Coaches also need to have enough working knowledge of disparate subjects to know what reading strategies are appropriate for them.

When working in science classrooms, for instance, literacy coaches should have a basic understanding of how scientists make and test hypotheses. In mathematics, they should understand everything from the basic demands of textbooks to how math graphics, diagrams, and vocabulary are used.

Sharon Walpole, an assistant professor of education at the University of Delaware in Newark, believes the standards would have to work their way into teacher-training programs for reading specialists to be effective. Literacy coaches also could help themselves adjust to unfamiliar academic content areas by knowing state and district standards in those subjects, she said.

“You have to know the curriculum in the area where you’re working,” said Ms. Walpole, who teaches aspiring teachers in literacy strategies. “That would be a big first step.”

A version of this article appeared in the November 09, 2005 edition of Education Week as Cross-Curricular Standards Issued for Reading Coaches


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
Here to Stay – Pandemic Lessons for EdTech in Future Development
What technology is needed in a post pandemic district? Learn how changes in education will impact development of new technologies.
Content provided by AWS
School & District Management Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Strategies & Tips for Complex Decision-Making
Schools are working through the most disruptive period in the history of modern education, facing a pandemic, economic problems, social justice issues, and rapid technological change all at once. But even after the pandemic ends,

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Standards Opinion Common Core Is a Meal Kit, Not a Nothingburger
Caroline Damon argues Rick Hess and Tom Loveless sold the common core short, claiming the issue was a matter of high-quality implementation.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Standards How New Common Core Research Connects to Biden's Plans for Children and Families
A study of national test scores indicate the early phase of the Common Core State Standards did not help disadvantaged students.
5 min read
results 925693186 02
Standards Opinion After All That Commotion, Was the Common Core a Big Nothingburger?
The Common Core State Standards may not have had an impact on student outcomes, but they did make school improvement tougher and more ideological.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Standards New Media Literacy Standards Aim to Combat 'Truth Decay'
The RAND Corporation has released a set of media literacy standards designed to help teach students to identify misinformation.
6 min read
Visual shows a young woman lying down and watching live news content on her mobile phone.
gorodenkoff/iStock/Getty Images Plus