Tag Archives: digital literacy

What Happened in Your State This October?

capitol buildingThis past month, twelve policy analysts published reports about what occurred in the following states: California, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Higher Education

Dan Melzer analyzed the NCES Report on Remedial Coursetaking and the Center for American Progress Report on Remedial Education, offering his insights and concerns that both reports fail to cite the research on basic writing. Erin O’Neill listed Recommendations from the New Mexico English Remediation Task Force Report, July 2016, which include using multiple measures, sharing resources, supporting writing centers, and offering accelerated co-requisite composition courses.

Michael Gos noted the Dual Credit Concerns of college faculty in Texas regarding the rigor of dual credit classes. He described the 60×30 TX Initiative implemented to ensure that 60 percent of Texas’s workforce of 25-35-year-olds holds a postsecondary credential.

Alexis Hart reported that the Faculty in [the] Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education [Went] on Strike after working without a contract for more than a year.

P12 Education

In PARCC Controversy Continues after Release of 2016 Scores, Erin O’Neill addressed the concerns of teachers in New Mexico that the scores counted “too much” in evaluations.

Likewise, Stevi Quate wrote in Changes in State Assessments Impact the Whole System about how switching to PARCC in Colorado led to more students opting out and to Denver revising its rating system. Stevi also noted that despite an increase in high school graduation rates, Colorado is still ranked low nationally.

Although there are Rising Graduation Rates in Idaho, Darlene Dyer reported that the new tracking system reports a lower than expected rate.

Aileen Hower concluded that [Pennsylvania Was] Pulling Academic Scores from [Its Department of Education] Website for Further Review due to its failure to include scores of IEP students.

Emily Zuccaro shared that Kentucky [Was] Named the 15th Best State for Teachers measured by “Job Opportunity and Competition” and “Academic and Work Environment.”

Clancy Ratliff analyzed Louisiana’s Draft Framework for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), noting that many of the suggested changes are in line with NCTE positions. Derek Kulnis discussed ESSA Implementation in New York State, reporting that New York will continue to gather feedback from parents, educators, and students throughout the state in November.

Derek Kulnis also described how libraries are sharing Wi-Fi hot spots, in Internet Access for Students in New York City, and, in New York City Hosts Pre-K Learning Lab, how New York City invited policymakers and teachers from twelve cities to view the rollout of its universal preK program.

Jalissa Bates reported on the new mentorship initiative, in Louisiana Preservice Teachers Gain a Full Year in the Classroom with Pay.

Apropos for Media Literacy Week, Robin Holland reported that Ohio’s Brunswick City Schools Launch Partnership with Discovery Education to provide more digital learning.

Marginalizing the Marginalized with Internet Filtering


NCTE, along with ALA and AASL, are intellectual freedom advocates. In honor of Banned Websites Awareness Day,  here is a post from Doug Johnson, on the filtering of educational websites in schools.


High school student Rachel is increasingly concerned over racial issues in her community and plans to write her senior thesis on this topic. There is an active “Black Lives Matter” movement organization in her community that uses Facebook to communicate. Her school blocks Facebook and she does not have Internet access at home.

Middle-schooler Diego and his friends are having a great time using the iPad to create and edit videos. They think their last production about school bullying would be helpful to other students, but their school blocks YouTube. Diego shares the computer and dial-up Internet connection in his home with both his parents and two siblings.

Fifth-grade teacher Ms. Dickens uses GoogleDocs in her class to facilitate peer-editing online, so she was pleased to learn about a program that would allow students from families with low incomes to check out computers and wifi “hot spots” for use at home. But she was told that GoogleApps was blocked by the hotspot’s filter.

Scholar Henry Jenkins has long expressed a concern that students who do not master collaboration-enabling technologies will not be able to fully engage in modern cultural and political life. About “participatory culture”, he writes:

“Our goals should be to encourage youth to develop the skills, knowledge, ethical frameworks, and self-confidence needed to be full participants in contemporary culture. … A growing body of scholarship suggests potential benefits of these forms of participatory culture, including opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, a changed attitude toward intellectual property, the diversification of cultural expression, the development of skills valued in the modern workplace, and a more empowered conception of citizenship.”1

Or as is more commonly expressed in political circles, if you aren’t at the table you’re probably on the menu. People who are not able to be at the digital table where discussions are held and opinions are influenced are very likely not to have their interests factored into big decisions.

Yet many schools make great efforts to keep students (and staff) from using social networking tools that enable sharing ideas online. These schools consider blocking blogs, wikis, social networking venues, collaborative-editing tools, and photo/video sharing tools necessary if children are to be “protected.” Many educators view social networking sites as frivolous distractions that prevent students from paying attention in class or focusing on other school work.

Much of the intellectual freedom work on which ALA and other well-meaning organizations have focused has been about the censorship of professionally written materials. As I opined in 2013:

“My concern is that in our professional efforts to prevent censorship, we are focusing so completely on assuring access to the ideas of others that we neglect the other side of intellectual freedom: the right for all to express their own ideas, information, and art.
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Intellectual freedom includes having the right to create and disseminate information and opinions as well as having the right to access the intellectual products of others.”2

I called this “the neglected side of intellectual freedom” and this neglect becomes especially egregious when looking at education through the lens of cultural proficiency and equity.

In families that can afford technology and Internet access in their homes, evenings, weekends, summer breaks, and holidays are times students can practice social networking skills and engage fully in our participatory culture. Yet not every student, especially those who come from economically disadvantaged homes, has the opportunity outside of school to use social media.

Schools have begun to address the need for all students to not just have a device that can be used to access school resources, but the need for all students to have Internet connectivity outside of regular school hours as well.3  By providing wifi hotspots for checkout, by opening computer labs before and after schools, and by working with other community organizations such as the public libraries and community centers, some schools are making real attempts to bridge the online learning opportunity gap among students.

But in these efforts, are schools providing not just access to educational resources such as learning management systems, e-books, digital textbooks, and online reference materials – materials written by others – but are they also providing the means for all children to express opinions, engage in social dialogue, and work collaboratively with their peers?

This is the intellectual freedom issue of today.


1Jenkins, Henry. “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture” MacArthur Foundation, 2006
2Johnson, Doug. “The Neglected Side of Intellectual Freedom” LMC, March/April 2013
3 Johnson, Doug. “Helping to Close the Digital Divide” Educational Leadership, February 2015.

Doug Johnson is the Director of Technology for the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage (MN) Public Schools. His teaching experience has included work in grades K-12. He is the author of nine books, columns in Educational Leadership and Library Media Connection, the Blue Skunk Blog, and articles published in over forty books and periodicals. Doug has worked with over 200 organizations around the world and has held leadership positions in state and national organizations, including ISTE and AASL. You can reach Doug at doug0077@gmail.com

#NCTEchat 3.15.15 at 8pm ET: Advocate for Literacy


Q1: What are the organizational conditions that support powerful literacy learning for which we need to advocate? #NCTEchat

Learn: Read more on the Literacy in Learning Exchange.
Act: Add your thoughts to this Ideascale project.

Q2: When we advocate for literacy, whom do we want to persuade to take action? #NCTEchat

Learn: Review these tips for sharing your views with policy makers.
Act: Reach out to your local, state, or federal lawmakers.

Q3: What kinds of advocacy are you doing from which others committed to powerful literacy education could learn? #NCTEchat

Learn: Advocacy looks like lots of things, check out some strategies here.
Act: Share your stories about assessment, we’ll make sure they’re heard!

Q4: What could @NCTE and @NCLE do to support your advocacy for literacy education? #NCTEchat

Learn: Read the 2015 NCTE Education Policy Platform.
Act: Share your suggestions in the comment box below.

Q5: What’s one thing you could commit to do during @NCTE Advocacy Month to advocate for literacy? #NCTEchat

Learn: Check out our advocacy pages on the NCTE website.
Act: We’ve got a whole calendar full of suggestions!

Disciplinary Literacy

connectedness (2)Do you collaborate with colleagues in different disciplines when developing curriculum? Do you have conversations with your peers about how literacy skills and instruction differ depending on the subject you’re exploring? Does your school or institution have a shared understanding of what literacy means across disciplines? This is something we’ve been thinking about a lot at NCTE, because if literacy is everyone’s job, we need to find more ways to work and learn together.

“Ensure comprehensive literacy education that . . . integrates literacy instruction across the disciplines.”  — 2015 NCTE Education Policy Platform


Use Your Words

BestPartofTeachingisStoriesKimberly Feldman wrote in the NCTE Connected Community Education Policy Forum 

“Teachers often feel powerless and demoralized in the face of education “reform” that redefines their work in ways contrary to their understanding of best practice and the needs of their students. However, some are beginning to find their voices and resist.”

Steve Zemelman responded

“I host a website/blog, http://teachersspeakup.com , that might be useful to you and to your students. As you’ll see, my approach is this: while the most outspoken teachers …directly take on the detractors of our profession, it’s also important for teachers to tell the positive stories of their work, so that the public better understands the value of public education and how it helps our children grow. And it counters the negative narrative that’s so prevalent.”

HavingOthersValidateMyStoriesHasChangedMEWe’re listening! Tell your stories.