In this Introduction, a description of the major changes between these Standards and those in Standards 2003 is provided, followed by an overview of Standards 2010.
Issues in Reading Education
Elsewhere in this online document we present detailed information about the issues and topics addressed by the Standards 2010 Committee in preparing Standards 2010. We suggest that users of this document read this section before they begin to work with the Standards and elements. The information in this section can help readers gain a better understanding of the issues faced by the Committee and the rationale underlying their decisions.
Major Changes in Standards 2010
While Standards 2010 maintains the performance-based emphasis of Standards 2003, four significant changes are described as follows.
Professional Role Categories
The number of professional role categories was increased from five in Standards 2003 to seven in Standards 2010. The two additional roles are (1) the Middle and High School Classroom Teacher (academic content teacher) and
(2) the Middle and High School Reading Classroom Teacher. Thus, there are three categories of classroom teacher: pre-K and elementary, middle and high school content, and middle and high school reading. These three categories allow for specificity that captures the differences in the various classroom teacher roles.
In addition, Paraprofessional was changed to Education Support Personnel in Standards 2010 to reflect the title currently being used in the field.
Organization by Standard and Then by Role
Standards are first presented as in the Standards 2003 document; that is, a standard is presented across all roles. However, Standards 2010 also lists each role individually with the accompanying elements of each of the standards, which allows readers to look either at a specific standard’s element and its description across all roles, or at a role, such as Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach, to see what the Standards require for that specific role. Programs submitting reports to IRA must focus on meeting Standards at the Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach role.
Change From Performance Indicators to List of “Possible Evidence”
In Standards 2003, the Standards’ elements were accompanied by lists of performance indicators per role, which were used to build and evaluate programs. Program committees often felt it necessary to require assignments or demonstrate accomplishment of each of the performance indicators when submitting a program for review. In Standards 2010, we provide lists of indicators that reflect the intent of an element, but we emphasize that the lists provide possible sources of evidence and that there may be other means of demonstrating competency; more important, it is unnecessary for a program to demonstrate accomplishment of each of the indicators in the lists. However, it is essential that programs include evidence of coaching competence for the Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach role.
Diversity Standard Added
Standards 2010 addresses diversity in a separate standard, Standard 4, given the critical need for preparing reading professionals to teach effectively the diverse student population in schools today. The achievement gaps between white and other minority groups, between those whose primary language is English and English learners, or between students who come from low or high socioeconomic groups, for example, speak to the need to prepare professionals to be effective in working with all students.
Description of Standards 2010
The six standards in this document are:
Each standard is defined by elements that provide more specificity as to the content of that standard. As mentioned previously, the document includes possible sources of evidence for each element that may be used to develop activities or assignments or evaluate specific preparation programs. The elements and indicators in the Evidence (roles) columns have been revised to reflect advances in the reading field. For example, given the importance of technology in reading and writing instruction, we highlight ways in which reading professionals can demonstrate their competence with these new literacies.
The Standards also reflect increased attention to English learners, given the increase in numbers of such students in schools and advances in knowledge about how to successfully provide literacy instruction for them. Standards 2010 also highlights elements and indicators that describe more specifically the various roles of the Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach.
Along with the Standards matrixes, we include a list of assumptions for each standard as well as a list of references that may be useful to users of this document. The assumptions were developed by Standards 2010 Committee members based on review of the research to serve as a foundation and rationale for each of the Standards and were used by the Committee in developing the Standards and their elements.
Research Base and References
The research base for Standards 2010, which provides the foundation for the work in this document, is also provided. Also, following each standard’s discussion, there are citations of both empirical research and theoretical and practical pieces that provide more depth and information about the standard. The references help users of this document develop a more accurate and stronger understanding of the Standards and how they are to be applied when planning for and evaluating preparation programs.
As noted above, Standards 2010 adds the role-based organization to make it easier for those who use the Standards to better understand the competencies for each of the seven professional role categories. Personnel responsible for developing or evaluating programs for the Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach role, therefore, may focus on the Standards matrix for that particular role. The roles in each section begin with a brief description of the role and the specific experience or programmatic requirements. Then, each standard’s elements are presented for a specific role with “possible evidence” about knowledge, skills, and dispositions for that role, along with some explanatory notes.
The seven professional role categories are:
- Education Support Personnel Candidate
- Pre-K and Elementary Classroom Teacher Candidate
- Middle and High School Content Classroom Teacher Candidate
- Middle and High School Reading Classroom Teacher Candidate
- Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach Candidate
- Teacher Educator Candidate
- Administrator Candidate
Standards 2010 also includes vignettes of two roles that often require candidates to serve multiple functions or for which there is some ambiguity in terms of the perceptions of these roles. Specifically, vignettes for several aspects of the Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach role and the Middle and High School Reading Classroom Teacher role are provided.
Users of Standards 2010
Community college, college, and university faculties as well as state department staff use the Standards in planning preparation programs for education support personnel, classroom reading teachers, reading specialists/literacy coaches, reading teacher educators, and administrators. The Standards are also used as the basis for evaluating both candidates and programs. In addition, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) uses the Standards for the Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach categories in accreditation decisions.
IRA is the specialty professional association (SPA) that conducts reviews of the Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach category for NCATE accreditation (see the NCATE Accreditation section in this Introduction for further information). NCATE also uses the Standards to inform their Reading and Language Arts Elementary Teacher standards. The Standards have similarly influenced and been influenced by the standards related to reading of the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).
IRA Standards and Review of Programs
A standards-based approach to professional education depends on two complementary parts: strong standards plus assessments that measure what the standards expect. Standards 2010 can be used by institutions of higher education, state departments, or other entities to guide the assessment of candidate preparation in reading as well as professional program effectiveness. In this section, we provide basic information about standards–assessment alignment, followed by specific information pertaining to the use of the 2010 Standards in the NCATE accreditation process.
Standards 2010 is grounded in professional expertise and reading research that has identified the performance criteria demonstrated by competent reading professionals. In planning preparation programs, the Standards guide the selection of program content and learning activities that prepare candidates for their respective roles as reading professionals. The Standards are performance based, not course based; thus, they allow flexibility of program design by state licensing boards and higher education institutions. Yet, where appropriate, Standards 2010 provides guidance as to the number of courses and semester hours that might be included in programs to ensure high-quality performance in each professional role.
To be effective, assessment of candidate performance should be aligned to reading standards. Several important points follow that help to clarify this process when measuring candidate outcomes and program quality by using Standards 2010. First, the Standards and their accompanying elements should be the focus of the assessment. Standards 2010 has no more than four elements per standard. Assessments should attempt to measure content, skills, and dispositions represented in the elements; possible evidence that can be used to assess specific elements is also provided.
A few principles apply. Assessment should (a) measure only content, skills, and disposition reflected in the elements, (b) effectively sample the important knowledge and skills of the standard, and (c) measure complex concepts, critical reasoning, and higher level cognitive demands (Rothman, Slattery, Vranek, & Resnick, 2002). Assessment tasks should be well aligned to the elements for each standard in terms of content, performance (cognitive demand), and challenge. The assessment tasks should also reflect balance across the elements and range, such that the elements are adequately covered (Wiggins & McTighe, 2007).
Assessment may take different approaches suited to local program preferences, such as performance based, projects, and portfolios. Tools and activities may be holistic in nature, addressing each element of a standard in creative and integrative ways. One or multiple assessments may be used across standards to collect evidence of performance that meets criteria.
The Standards for the Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach role are used in decisions regarding accreditation of master’s degree programs for Reading Specialists. IRA has been a constituent member of NCATE since 1980. As
1 of 33 SPAs, IRA has developed a strong and positive role within the NCATE coalition. Members of IRA’s serve as advisors on the IRA–NCATE partnership and, with others, act as program reviewers and auditors. NCATE, in partnership with IRA, awards national recognition to Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach programs that substantially meet professional standards as documented through a performance-based assessment system.
Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach programs that seek national recognition from NCATE and IRA must carefully align program tasks and assessments to IRA’s Standards 2010 at the Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach level. The role of the Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach remains in one column of the Standards matrix, because the Standards expect evidence of both roles—Reading Specialist and Literacy Coach. Programs must also adhere to NCATE requirements and incorporate evidence that meets four principles of the NCATE SPA Standards; these principles are subsumed in Standards 2010 as follows:
- Principle 1: Content Knowledge (Standard 1)
- Principle 2: Content Pedagogy (Standards 2 and 3)
- Principle 3: Learning Environments (Standards 4 and 5)
- Principle 4: Professional Knowledge and Skills (Standard 6)
NCATE (2010), with its new criteria, indicates that there should be no subdivisions of standards beyond the element level. Thus, for each of these Standards, elements are provided, and then we include possible evidence that may be used for assessment purposes. NCATE will be evaluating programs, therefore, based on the “preponderance of evidence” presented to demonstrate competency. For those institutions participating in an NCATE review, IRA will provide accompanying material, including a rubric that will assist those institutions in preparing their program review materials (see model assessments).
Many supports to institutions preparing for NCATE/IRA reports and site visits are available from NCATE and IRA staff. In addition to sessions at the annual meetings of IRA and the Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers (ALER), current specifications, additional resources, and model program reports are available (where readers can also find examples of assessment tools).
In conclusion, the document Standards 2010 is intended to strengthen the field by providing a well organized and specific set of performance criteria to shape preparation programs. The Standards are the result of a deliberative process that involved constant intertwining of research evidence and professional judgment. We expect this document to contribute to an evidence-based practice that ultimately improves student reading achievement.
National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. (2010). Policy on guidelines for writing and approval of SPA standards. In SASB policies and procedures handbook (pp. 5–51). Washington, DC: Specialty Areas Studies Board, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
Rothman, R., Slattery, J.B., Vranek, J.L., & Resnick, L.B. (2002). Benchmarking and alignment of standards and testing (CSE Technical Report 566). Los Angeles: National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing.
Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2007). Schooling by design: Mission, action, and achievement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.