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Reading to Learn -- Reading-to-Learn: From Print to New Digital Media and New Literacies Evidence for the use of digital media for traditional academic competencies

Chapter: North Central Region Education Laboratory

ABSTRACT With the current emphasis on accountability and high stakes testing at the elementary level, districts all over the US have an increased awareness of the immediate need to raise reading achievement at all levels. The No Child Left Behind law of 2001 has formally defined the expectations for students and teachers of students in grades K-3 in raising achievement and provided financial assistance in carrying out the provisions of the law (e.g. Reading First provision; see the law at (http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/107-110.pdf). However, secondary teachers work daily with adolescents who have already "been left behind"--students who are unmotivated, disengaged, and lack the skills and strategies needed in dealing with increasingly difficult content area texts. Secondary teachers, unlike their elementary counterparts, have few resources for dealing with these students, even though this need has been well documented (Alvermann, 2001; Moore, Bean, Birdyshaw, & Rycik, 1999). To complicate matters, as the field of content area reading has given way to the broader, more dynamic fields of content area literacy, and adolescent literacy (Bean, 2001) much of the university supported work in long-term staff development focusing on reading has tapered off or is in transformation (Stewart & O"Brien, 2002, 2003). Before the increased national focus on reading, secondary teachers were under some pressure to teach reading in support of students" learning content, and learning content area reading assessment and instruction, including strategies, was one way to improve their teaching of content. With the new focus on school-wide and district-wide reading performance secondary teachers, in whose classes students spend most of their time, are now under increasing pressure to improve students reading performance, sometimes irrespective of content. Our ongoing work with urban and suburban districts in the Twin Cities area confirms this. In essence, the content reading focus of the past three decades has partially shifted from teaching reading to help students learn content to teaching content to help raise reading achievement.

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May 21, 2014