Knowledge to Support the Teaching of Reading: Preparing Teachers for a Changing World / Edition 1

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It is generally accepted that reading with comprehension is key to success in all academic domains. This means that every teacher must be able to help students deepen their reading and writing skills. What is the core knowledge base teachers need for this task? Knowledge to Support the Teaching of Reading offers a definitive guide to reading and literacy preparation in teacher education and professional development.
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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
“This volume builds on the National Research Council Report How People Learn and what we know about effective teacher education practices to address the important issue of preparing all K-12 teachers to teach reading.”—John Bransford, University of Washington, co-chair of the Committee on Teacher Education


“This book should be read by teachers, teacher educators, and policy makers who are interested in ensuring that all teachers have the knowledge and skills necessary to teach all students to read.”—Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford University, co-chair of the Committee on Teacher Education


Knowledge to Support the Teaching of Reading could serve as a guide to those designing teacher education courses and programs and to those interested in hiring knowledgeable new teachers.”—George Hillocks, University of Chicago


“The authors know the literature very well . . . indeed, it is an excellent job of taking the research data and using them in a way that teachers can take advantage of.”—Walter Kintsch, University of Colorado, Boulder

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787996338
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 8/17/2007
  • Series: The Jossey-Bass Education Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 328
  • Sales rank: 706,686
  • Product dimensions: 6.97 (w) x 9.33 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author


Catherine E. Snow

Harvard University

Catherine E. Snow, Henry Lee Shattuck Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, carries out research on first- and second-language acquisition and literacy development in monolingual and bilingual children. She chaired the committee that produced the National Research Council Report Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children and the study group that produced Reading for Understanding: Toward an R&D Program in Reading Comprehension. She is a former president of the American Educational Research Association and a member of the National Academy of Education. Her research focuses on the social-interactive origins of language and literacy skills, the ways in which oral-language skills relate to literacy learning, the literacy development of English-language learners, and implications of research on language and literacy development for teacher preparation.


M. Susan Burns

George Mason University

M. Susan Burns, Ph.D., is co-coordinator of the Early Childhood Education Program in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason  University. She has been active in national education policy on young children’s early language and literacy development and the preparation of teachers for effective literacy instruction. Prior to her employment at George Mason University, she served as study director at the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council for the Committee on the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children and the Committee for Early Childhood Pedagogy. Reports produced under her guidance and editorship during this time included Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children, Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children’s Reading Success, and Eager to Learn: Educating Our Preschoolers. Most recently she is coauthor of Preparing Our Teachers: Opportunities for Better Reading Instruction.

Gina Cervetti

University of California, Berkeley

Gina Cervetti is a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Education. Her current research agenda concerns the role of text in learning science and the potential of science-literacy integration to support students’ development of academic literacy. Before coming to UC Berkeley, Cervetti completed her doctoral work in educational psychology at Michigan State University, where she was a researcher at the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement.

Claude Goldenberg

California State University, Long Beach

Claude Goldenberg is professor of teacher education and associate dean of the College of Education, California State University, Long Beach. He received his Ph.D. degree in 1984 from the Graduate School of Education, UCLA. Prior to that he taught junior high school in San Antonio, Texas, and first grade in Los Angeles. His research interests include home and school factors in Latino children’s achievement and the processes and dynamics of school change. He was a National Academy of Education Spencer Fellow and received the Albert J. Harris Award from the International Reading Association. His 1997 video Settings for Change described a five-year school-improvement project in a largely Latino, bilingual elementary school in the Los Angeles area. A book based on this project, Successful School Change: Creating Settings to Improve Teaching and Learning, was published in 2004 by Teachers College Press.

Peg Griffin

Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition

Peg Griffin, holder of a Ph.D. degree in linguistics from Georgetown University, is a research affiliate of the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition of the University of California at San Diego. She studies language in education, both as the topic of reading and writing instruction and as the medium for early education in mathematics and the social and natural sciences. She has collaborated on a variety of books: Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children, Starting Out Right, Preparing Our Teachers: Opportunities for Better Reading Instruction, and The Construction Zone: Working for Cognitive Change in School. Her theoretical interests are best represented in a coauthored book on model systems, Socialno-istoricheskii Podhod V Psychologii Obuchenia, and the more recent article "Collaboration in School: ‘I (Don’t) Know’ Answers and Questions." She is currently collaborating on a study about the language, literacy, mathematics, and science content in preschools.

Louisa C. Moats

Sopris West Educational Services

Louisa C. Moats, Ed.D., recently completed four years as site director of the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development Early Interventions Project in Washington, D.C. This longitudinal, large-scale project was conducted through the University of Texas, Houston. It investigated the causes and remedies for reading failure in high-poverty urban schools. Moats spent the previous fifteen years in private practice as a licensed psychologist in Vermont, specializing in evaluation and consultation with individuals of all ages who experienced learning problems in reading and language. She has authored several books, including Speech to Print: Language Essentials for Teachers; Spelling: Development, Disability, and Instruction; Straight Talk About Reading (with Susan Hall); and Parenting a Struggling Reader (with Susan Hall). She has also written numerous journal articles, chapters, and policy papers. She is currently collaborating with Sopris West Educational Services on the development of LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling), a series of modules for teachers.

Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar

University of Michigan

Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar is the Jean and Charles Walgreen Jr. Chair of Reading and Literacy and a teacher educator at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on the design of learning environments that support self-regulation in learning activity, especially for children who experience difficulty learning in school. She studies how children use literacy in the context of guided-inquiry science instruction, what types of text support children’s inquiry, and what support students who are identified as atypical learners require to be successful in this instruction. Palincsar has served as a member of the National Academy’s Research Council on the Prevention of Reading Difficulty in Young Children; the OERI/RAND Reading Study Group, The National Education Goals Panel, and the National Advisory Board to Children’s Television Workshop. She is coeditor of the journal Cognition and Instruction. She completed her doctorate at the Center for the Study of Reading at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.

P. David Pearson

University of California, Berkeley

P. David Pearson serves as dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, and as a faculty member in its Language and Literacy program. His current research focuses on issues of reading instruction and reading assessment policies and practices at all levels—local, state, and national. Prior to coming to Berkeley in 2001, he served as the John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor of Education in the College of Education at Michigan State and as codirector of the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement. Even earlier, he was dean of the College of Education, codirector of the Center for the Study of Reading, and professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Illinois. His initial professorial appointment was at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. The author of numerous books and articles, Pearson is a member of the National Academy of Education, the recipient of the International Reading Association’s William S. Gray Award and its Albert J. Harris Award, and founding editor of the Handbook of Reading Research.

Dorothy S. Strickland

Rutgers University

Dorothy S. Strickland is the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Professor of Education at Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey. A former classroom teacher, reading consultant, and learning disabilities specialist, she is a past president of both the International Reading Association (IRA) and the IRA Reading Hall of Fame. She received the IRA’s Outstanding Teacher Educator of Reading Award. She was the recipient of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Award as Outstanding Educator in the Language Arts and the 1994 NCTE Rewey Belle Inglis Award as Outstanding Woman in the Teaching of English. She has numerous publications in the field of reading/language arts. She has recently authored or edited (alone or jointly) Learning About Print in Preschool Settings; Bridging the Literacy Achievement Gap, Grades 4–12: Improving Reading Achievement Through Professional Development; Language Arts: Learning and Teaching; Preparing Our Teachers: Opportunities for Better Reading Instruction; The Administration and Supervision of Reading Programs; and Teaching Phonics Today.

MaryEllen Vogt

California State University, Long Beach

MaryEllen Vogt is Professor Emerita of Education at California State University, Long Beach. A former reading specialist and special education teacher, she received her doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley. A coauthor of five books, including Reading Specialists in the Real World: A Sociocultural View and Making Content Comprehensible for English Learners: The SIOP Model, her research interests include improving comprehension in the content areas, teacher change and development, and content literacy and language acquisition for English language learners. She was inducted into the California Reading Hall of Fame and received her university’s Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award. She is a former president of the International Reading Association.


Helen Duffy

Helen Duffy has served as the director of the Committee on Teacher Education (CTE) since August 2003. Before joining the CTE, she earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, where she received a UC All-Campus Consortium on Research for Diversity fellowship to study a University of California outreach effort called the High School Puente Project. She has taught English and composition at the high school and university levels and served as academic coordinator for UC Berkeley’s English-teacher-education program. In addition to working for the CTE, she has been engaged in a three-year study of an elementary school literacy-reform effort in California’s Silicon Valley. Her research interests include preservice and inservice teacher education, school reforms that promote equity and access to higher education, and adolescent literacy.

Pamela LePage

Pamela LePage is assistant professor of special education and co-coordinator of the program in special education for those with mild-to-moderate needs at San Francisco State University. Before working as the director of the Committee on Teacher Education at Stanford University from August 2001 to August 2003, she taught at George Mason University in an innovative and interdisciplinary master’s program for practicing teachers. LePage earned a Ph.D. degree in special education from the joint University of California, Berkeley/San Francisco State program after teaching in special education for eleven years. She has coauthored or coedited three books, including Transforming Teacher Education: Lessons in Professional Development and Educational Controversies: Toward a Discourse of Reconciliation.

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Read an Excerpt

Knowledge to Support the Teaching of Reading

By Catherine Snow

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7879-7465-X

Chapter One

Yet Another Report About Teacher Education?

In Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children, enhanced teacher education was identified as a key strategy in improving reading instruction and thus reading outcomes. Preventing Reading Difficulties was based on an extensive review and synthesis of a rich research base on reading development. Writing an equivalent report that might be called Preventing Instructional Disasters in Novice Teachers' Classrooms would have a much less rich basis in directly relevant research. Many of the claims in such a report would have to be inferred from evidence about children's literacy development, such as that reviewed in Preventing Reading Difficulties and in the Report of the National Reading Panel (National Reading Panel, 2000). The link from evidence about child accomplishments and effective instructional practices to required teacher knowledge and effective teacher education requires a fairly high level of inference.

Of course, the fictive Preventing Instructional Disasters could draw on information such as that reviewed in the National Research Council report How People Learn (Bransford, Brown, and Cocking, 1999) about how real, transferable, usable knowledge is acquired, both by adults and by children. It could also draw from the growing body of information about effective and ineffective strategies in teacher education and professional development that is based both in the wisdom of practice and in systematic reviews of successful preservice and inservice teacher-education programs.

Unfortunately, though, all these sources of information add up to less clarity than we might wish to have about the optimal design of teacher education to ensure adequate preparation for all teachers in literacy. We simply do not have the research base we need-a convergent program of research in which content and method in teacher preparation or professional development programs have been manipulated, and accompanying changes in teacher knowledge, teacher behavior, and child outcomes charted. Nor can we wait for that research base. Teachers are being prepared in their thousands every year, and the projected need for new teachers is enormous. Thus, we are impelled to take the relevant information available to us as a basis for recommendations about how to prepare teachers to teach reading more effectively. We offer these recommendations as working hypotheses, with the full recognition that they will need to be constantly evaluated along the way. In other words, teacher educators must start working the way excellent teachers work, by imposing on their own profession a recurrent cycle of learning, enactment, assessment, and reflection.

Nor should the lack of a fully specified research base discourage us regarding the value of what we do know or the appropriateness of much current practice in teacher education. Medical education, in which professionalization and high standards were introduced in a rather draconian fashion as a result of the Flexner report (Flexner and Pritchett, 1910) and which is often cited as a model for reform in teacher education, has never been subjected to systematic assessment. The content of what is taught in medical schools is defined by "science-based medicine," but medical faculties are experimenting all the time with variations in how to make the learning more efficient and more connected to clinical practice, at the same time preparing M.D.s to function as doctors and to engage in continued informal and formal learning (Tosteson, Adelstein, and Carver, 1994).

We take as a central process in any educational effort the learning, enactment, assessment, and reflection cycle-a cycle of activities in which learners start with what they know, but are committed to assessing efficacy of the enactment of that knowledge in recognition that what they know is insufficient. This cycle applies as much to those of us educating teachers or providing guidelines for teacher education as to those learners starting on the road to certification as teachers. What would this cycle look like for teacher education? It would mean enacting a form of teacher education that is based as firmly as possible on what has been learned from research, assessing systematically the effectiveness of that education, reflecting on where it has fallen short and how it could be improved, thus generating new learning which in turn starts the next cycle at a higher level. In this book we offer a set of recommendations for the design and enactment of teacher education based on what is currently known from research about literacy development, literacy instruction, and student and teacher learning. Needless to say, we accompany this sketch of enactment with an exhortation to attend to the assessment and reflection components of the cycle in enacting these recommendations.

The urgency of our recommendations is enhanced by the consensus among national organizations focusing on education that a new design for teacher education is needed. Commissions, committees, and reports focused on teacher education have been launched by the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the International Reading Association (IRA), the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), and by the National Academy of Education (NAE). The NAE established a Committee on Teacher Education (CTE), chaired by Linda Darling-Hammond and John Bransford, to prepare a report providing a comprehensive picture of the requirements for improved teacher education. That report, Preparing Teachers for a Changing World: What Teachers Should Learn and Be Able to Do (Darling-Hammond, Bransford, LePage, Hammerness, and Duffy, 2005), constitutes the context for this book, which focuses specifically on the knowledge about literacy that all teachers need to have. This report builds on the advanced degree of consensus within the field of education concerning the characteristics of good literacy instruction. The content specifications for this literacy report can build on a broader base of research than would be the case for fields such as math, social studies, or science.

Writing a report like this is not, of course, a novel undertaking. A number of attempts have been made to sketch the teacher's required knowledge base for teaching reading-several with participation by members of this very committee. As one member put it at a planning meeting, "I can't stand the thought of producing another list of things teachers should know and don't"-a sentiment all of us recognized we shared as soon as it was uttered.

How is this report, then, different from its predecessors? It is, first of all, emphatically not a list. It grows out of a developmental view of adult learning that specifies various stages or levels of knowledge, and that presupposes the development of structures to support the learning of teachers across their careers, comparable to the developmental view of child learning endorsed in Preventing Reading Difficulties. Second, it focuses on usable knowledge-thinking about how to ensure that teachers develop real, practice-based, useful knowledge rather than the sort of knowledge that is easy to assess but hard to use. Third, it tries to represent the required knowledge systemically, in a way that makes clear how disciplinary knowledge (in this case, drawn both from the various hyphenated-linguistics disciplines and from the cognitive psychology of reading) does and does not shape and dictate teacher knowledge. In this chapter, we describe the structure of our thinking about the following things: adult development; the characteristics of and prerequisites to usable knowledge; and the contributions of cognitive psychology and linguistics, which we take to include psycho-, socio-, and discourse-linguistics, to the definition of the knowledge teachers need to teach literacy effectively.

For each of those three areas we also discuss the warrants for arguing that they are worth attending to. As noted earlier, those warrants do not typically derive from experimental studies demonstrating impact or effectiveness. They often derive from somewhat more indirect arguments. Thus, we are proposing two linked activities: changes in teacher education and professional development, and evaluation of those changes through assessment of teacher and student learning at every stage of the change. Like improving reading instruction, improving teacher education is an inherently empirical undertaking.


In Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children, a contrast was drawn between traditional readiness models of reading and current emergent literacy models. Readiness models see reading as a product of instruction that should only be introduced after certain maturational milestones have been reached. Emergent literacy approaches, however, emphasize the many accomplishments of very young children that are directly related to literacy development-learning about the functions of print, learning about how language is used differently in written and in spoken language, starting to enact writing with scribbling and reading with recitation of the text of familiar picture books, and learning to recognize some letters and some printed words. Whether one wants to identify these accomplishments as "literacy" or not, it is clear that they represent knowledge and capabilities that the maturationist, readiness view would render invisible.

Similarly, we argue that the traditional, and still widely accepted, view of teacher education is one that is too dominated by the identification of sharp shifts in status and hypothesized accompanying shifts in capacity. Young men and women are certified as teachers after a certain number of courses in education and some prescribed number of hours of supervised classroom experience. As soon as certification requirements are achieved, these women and men are given the full list of responsibilities associated with being a teacher-a classroom full of students, considerable choice (in some places) among curricula, partial to complete control over the scheduling of the students' learning activities, accountability for classroom management and for student progress, freedom to refer children for evaluation for special services, and a very high level of autonomy. Such teachers are very unlikely to receive much supervision or, unless they are good at seeking it out for themselves, much consultation or advice. Having achieved the status of certified teacher, they may well then continue in that status for forty years, with no systematic opportunity to move toward a higher degree of qualification, to fill in areas of knowledge that might have been skimped on in their preservice programs, or to become acquainted with newly emerging research findings.

We argue that this status-shift view of teacher development accords poorly with what we know about adult development, human learning, and the description of the knowledge domains teachers need to acquire. Compare the teacher-education model to other forms of professional preparation. An aspirant barber in Massachusetts studies for a thousand credit hours over seven to ten months, engaging in supervised practice for up to fifteen hours a week during the "preservice" phase of training, then must operate for a full year in a shop under the supervision of an experienced barber before being allowed to open an independent business. An aspirant medical doctor in the United States is required to cover many hours of premedical, basic science training and pass an exam to qualify for entry into medical school, then to engage in three years of full-time study including increasingly challenging tasks involving patient contact, then to fulfill a full year's internship, before even being allowed to treat a patient without supervision; M.D.s seeking specialization may experience another several years of supervised practice and practice-based learning.

It is striking that teacher preparation resembles barber preparation more than medical preparation-and even then falls short in the amount of supervised practice required before independent action! The aspirant M.D. goes through at least three, and often five, developmental stages, whereas the average aspirant teacher has only two-precertified and certified. Of course, induction-year programs are widely recommended, but they have been effectively implemented for only a tiny proportion of new teachers-far fewer than the number that enters teaching without even having completed a preservice certification program! The single status-shift model for teacher career development places an enormous burden on the preservice program, requiring that it provide far more knowledge and practical skills than anyone could reasonably acquire within a few short years. It also rests on the myth that what teachers need to know is a fixed body of knowledge-that a systematic procedure for ensuring access to new evidence and new conceptions is unnecessary. Most devastatingly, though, it conflicts with the conception of the teacher as a lifelong learner who could be motivated and should be rewarded by recognition of status changes throughout the length of a career-from novice teacher to collaborating teacher to master teacher to coach, for example-especially if those status shifts are accompanied by increases in remuneration and responsibility.

The incentive structure of a career-long developmental pathway for teachers is not the most important reason to propose this model. More compellingly, a model like this fits with our presupposition of progressive differentiation as a general framework for thinking about teacher education. Progressive differentiation refers to a process of development in which the capacities being used at any point are analyzed and elaborated, in response to evidence that they fall short. Thus, for example, a novice teacher's skillful use of a prescribed, well-structured literacy curriculum represents a developmental accomplishment; the teacher's recognition that the curriculum is not being effective with a subset of the children in her or his first-grade classroom (for example, the English-language learners, or ELLs) generates an opportunity to analyze the curriculum, to think about the skills it presupposes, and to design supplementary or alternative teaching models for the ELL children. The teacher's skill in using the curriculum is not superceded, but rather analyzed and elaborated, leading eventually to a reorganization of her or his enacted knowledge into reflective knowledge.

We distinguish five levels of increasing progressive differentiation roughly correlated with five points in the teacher's career progression: preservice, apprentice, novice, experienced, and master teacher. Teachers at each of these points on their developmental and career trajectories should be engaged in cycles of learning, enactment, assessment, and reflection, though the weight placed on each of these activities shifts with experience. Clearly, preservice, apprentice, and novice teachers are most heavily involved in new learning, whereas experienced and master teachers are placing more emphasis on assessment and reflection. But each of the steps in the cycle is crucial for all. We can describe five points in a teacher's development by characterizing the type of knowing that dominates at each point. Figure 1.1 is a representation of how those different types of knowledge might be distributed at various points in a teacher's career. Remember, though, that the total knowledge available grows.

Declarative Knowledge The student pursuing an education major or certification program is primarily engaged in acquiring declarative knowledge (learning, from books or lectures, about child development, about instructional approaches, about text analysis, and so on) and in acquiring a declarative version of procedural knowledge-the capacity to answer questions about what one should do in various situations. This stage of knowledge development is when a solid foundation of disciplinary knowledge relevant to success as a teacher will typically be acquired; given constraints of time and energy, that places on teacher educators the burden of being analytical about precisely what that knowledge must be.


Excerpted from Knowledge to Support the Teaching of Reading by Catherine Snow Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


National Academy of Education's Reading Sub-Committee Members.


About the Authors.

1: Yet Another Report About Teacher Education?

2: Students Change: What Are Teachers to Learn About Reading Development?

3: Students Vary: How Can Teachers Address All Their Needs?

4: Students Encounter Difficulties: When Teachers Need Specialized Knowledge.

5: Learning to Use Assessments Wisely.

6: A Model of Professional Growth in Reading Education.



Name Index.

Subject Index.

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