Coweta County School System’s Literacy Framework Development
Coweta County students at all grade levels perform well on objective standards used to measure literacy. In 2011, student reading performance in Coweta County measured by the Criterion Reference Competency Test ranged from 90% of students meeting or exceeding standards in grade 4 to 97% meeting or exceeding standards in grade 8. On the 2011 administration of the SAT, Coweta test-takers scored an average of 498 on the verbal portion of the exam, outperforming the average scored by those sitting for the SAT in Georgia (485 average) and across the nation (497) generally.
Reading proficiency, however, is the most fundamental of academic skills. Regardless of average proficiency, some students in our community do not read at levels that ensure their success in the classroom. Regardless of individual ability, all students can perform at higher levels that would, in turn, broaden their potential to excel in school and in the post-graduate world of work and post-secondary academics.
In addition to the Coweta school system’s goal of ensuring high levels of success for all students, the Coweta County School System is also joining other districts across the state and the nation to implement new Common Core State Standards. These standards are designed to prepare students for college and careers and require students to apply knowledge at higher levels than ever before. “For too many of our youth, we have treated preparing for college versus preparing for career as mutually exclusive options. At the same time, aspiring doctors, lawyers, or architects understand very well that college is in fact education for a career” (Symonds & Ferguson, 2011, p. 24). Expectations in middle and high schools in America have been based on a 20th century vision of the literacy and skills needed to experience success after graduating from high school. Unfortunately, high school graduates today face higher expectations in the new global knowledge economy than ever before (Carnegie, 2010).
Reading ability is a key predictor of success in mathematics and science. In addition, “the global information economy requires today’s American youth to have far more advanced literacy skills than those required of any previous generation” (Kamil, Borman, Dole, Kral, Salinger, and Torgesen, 2008). “Over the last 40 years our nation’s adolescent literacy rates have stagnated. Recent successes in improving early literacy are a good start, but good early literacy instruction is only a foundation, not the whole structure. We must now reengineer our nation’s schools to support adolescent learning and the ambitious goal of ‘literacy for all’ (Carnegie, p. 65). Long term data and educational studies show improvements made in the literacy skills of older students have not kept pace with the increasing demands for literacy in the workplace (Kamil, et al, 2008). With the Common Core Standards in English/Language Arts, students will be required to read text at higher, more complex levels, including reading more nonfiction text as in the job world.
Coweta County School System is embarking on developing a literacy framework that will guide literacy instruction across all grade levels, better preparing high school graduates for their next phase in life. Educators are gathering across the district to analyze and discuss the Common Core Standards implementation as well as student and classroom literacy needs. Professional development is planned that will include all levels of educators in literacy development as well as parents in helping children develop effective strategies for reading and writing. The literacy framework will include grade band scope and sequences, materials, and ongoing assessments to monitor student progress throughout the year. The framework will focus on the following areas:
- Phonemic Awareness
Because literacy reaches across all content areas, the developed framework will include courses beyond the typical literature classes. Science, social studies, and career/technical courses will also include literacy components.
Carnegie Council on Advancing Adolescent Literacy. (2010). Time to act: An agenda for advancing adolescent literacy for college and career success. New York, NY: Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Kamil, M. L., Borman, G. D., Dole, J., Kral, C. C., Slainger, T., and Torgensen, J. (2008). Improving adolescent literacy: Effective classroom and intervention practices: A Practice Guide (NCEE #2008-4027). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retired from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc.
Symonds, W., Schwartz, R. , & Ferguson, R. (2011). Pathways to prosperity: Meeting the challenge of preparing young Americans for the 21st century. Report issued by the Pathways to Prosperity Project, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Walker, S. and Goss, A. (2011). College & career readiness: Are we getting it right? Report issued by the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, The Top Ten Issues to Watch.