CCSS Literacy Resource

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 A Changing Concept of Literacy

by Willard R. Daggett, Ed.D.

More dialogue on how to educate the future U.S. work   force is occurring between corporate leaders and politicians than is taking place   among educators. Business does not necessarily know what or how schools   should be teaching tomorrow’s workers, but it does know that it is not   getting what it needs in terms of entry-level worker skills.

Consider reading. The business community has long   identified inadequate reading proficiency as a problem among entry-level   employees. Educators have attempted to solve the problem from within their   own paradigm, by teaching more of what they had always taught — literature.   While reading literature is an important and culturally enhancing competency,   it is not the same as informational reading.

The reading requirements for today’s entry-level jobs   are higher than they are for state tests or college, according to the   International Center for Leadership in Education’s evaluation of on-the-job   reading materials using the Lexile Framework. Developed by MetaMetrics, the   Framework uses a computer program to examine a whole text for such   characteristics as sentence length and syllabic intensity.

So although reading skills do need to be improved, what   students require to function in the 21st century workplace is better   technical reading skills for understanding documents and quantitative   material, not more reading of prose, poetry, and other literary forms. To acquire   these other skills, students need to be taught reading in all content areas,   not just in English language arts. A new definition of literacy is required.




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