Policy, Pedagogy, and Research: Three Issues Affecting Content Area Literacy Courses for Secondary-Level Teacher Candidates

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In the wake of tepid National Assessment of Educational Progress reading and writing scores, the creation of College and Career Readiness Standards (National Governor's Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers [NGA & CCSSO], 2010; Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, 2008), and studies such as the "Diploma to Nowhere" (Wise, 2009) depicting increasing college remediation rates, literacy instruction for adolescents in the United States has reached a critical juncture. In spite of these indicators, few states have established policies that require preservice secondary level teacher candidates to complete literacy education coursework designed to redress such trends. Irrespective of policy mandates, many teacher preparation programs require teacher candidates to take one (three credit hour) course in content area literacy (National Governor's Association Center for Best Practices [NGA], 2005; Snipes & Horwitz, 2008). Given the importance of this solitary course required for teacher certification, much more needs to be understood about effective content area literacy pedagogy for teacher candidates. Through a review of literature pertaining to instruction in content area literacy published primarily during the past two decades emerged three key issues that need to be addressed in order to bring about maximum benefits for teacher candidates in this course: (1) greater cohesion in definitions of content area literacy, (2) a clearer understanding of how to prepare teacher candidates to offer instruction in disciplinary literacies or "literacies of disciplines" (National Council of Teachers of English [NCTE], 2011), and (3) methods to overcome the dispositional barriers of teacher candidates toward implementing content area literacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-71
Number of pages22
JournalLiteracy Research and Instruction
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • content area reading
  • teacher education


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