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Language learners and language users are active constructors of meaning; they seek meaning from what they read, hear, and view, and they seek to convey meaning as they express themselves through speaking and writing. The following core beliefs may be derived from this view of language learning and use: The language arts -- reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and representing visually -- are interrelated; they are rarely used in isolation, and they tend to be mutually reinforcing as students learn and use them. The language arts are complex behaviors that develop over time; individual learners do not progress at the same rate in the same ways. Learners use their language skills in all curriculum areas; thus, proficiency in language arts is central for doing well in school and in becoming lifelong literacy practitioners. Literature in all its forms is a source of enjoyment and insight that should be made available to all language learners. Language takes many forms; its diversity must be respected.
These core beliefs that informed the IRA/NCTE Standards for the English Language Arts published in 1996. Those standards are not intended to define curriculum or prescribe instructional methodology; their purpose is to serve as a starting point for discussion about quality English language arts instruction. Educators at state and local levels should have the right to define curriculum and determine the best instruction for their students.
There is a need for reading professionals to be trained appropriately, thus the need for these standards about the knowledge and teaching proficiency of reading practitioners. The standards presented in the main matrix of this book outline three categories of reading practitioners (a separate category for paraprofessionals, which includes classroom and/or literacy assistants, is presented in Appendix C). the classroom professional (early-childhood teacher, elementary school teacher, middle and secondary school teacher, special-education teacher, and adult-education teacher); the specialized reading professional (reading specialist, reading coordinator, and teacher educator); and, the allied professional (related service professional and administrator).
These standards for reading professionals reflect a recognition of the extensive body of research studies and instructional information about the development of literacy. much of this knowledge is found in IRA's journals and is summarized and interpreted in many of its handbooks and research on reading and teaching in the English language arts. We used these sources to establish the theoretical framework of "Standards for Reading Professionals" as well as in developing the subcategories and individual criteria that constitute the levels of competency for each category of literacy practitioner.
Appropriately prepared reading professionals have proficiency in three broad categories: 1. Knowledge and Beliefs About Reading: which includes understanding theories of reading development, individual differences, the nature of reading difficulties, and principles of assessment. 2. Instruction and Assessment: which includes being able to create instructional environments; to teach word identification, phonemic awareness, letter-sound correspondence, vocabulary skills, strategies for comprehension and the construction of meaning, and study strategies; and to assess student performance and progress. 3. Organizing and Enhancing a Reading Program: which includes abilities to communicate information about reading to various groups, to develop literacy curricula, to participate in or lead professional-development programs, to participate in or conduct research, to collaborate or supervise other literacy practitioners, to communicate assessment results, and to engage in professional activities.
The Suggested Readings in Appendix A contain sources of information relating to all these areas. There are references to classical as well as contemporary handbooks, texts, and IRA publications covering major aspects of the field of literacy. Appendix B lists Web sites related to literacy and education. Reading professionals can use both types of resources in developing effective instructional programs; these resources underpin the competencies detailed in "Standards for Reading Professionals." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.