Policy-Oriented Research on Literacy Standards and Assessment

CIERA Report #3-004

Sheila W. Valencia, University of Washington
Karen K. Wixson, University of Michigan

CIERA Inquiry 3: Policy and Profession
How do the policies and frameworks of states guide local curriculum, instruction, and assessment at early grade levels? What is the impact of standards and assessment on literacy practice and student learning?

Mandates about the kind and amount of literacy instruction in classrooms and levels of reading required for successful promotion from grade to grade are currently dominating state and federal legislation. Valencia and Wixson have gathered scholarship from three disparate sources to produce the first integrated review of policy-related research on literacy education: (a) policy analyses that examine policies about literacy in the framework of systemic reform; (b) measurement and evaluation studies, conducted by psychometricians, that examine the assessments mandated by policies; and (c) studies by literacy researchers that attend to policies and literacy-specific content. Each of these literatures has a unique set of questions, frameworks, methodologies, and audiences. Together, they provide a comprehensive perspective on policies and literacy education.

The best way to influence policy, instruction, and children's learning, say Valencia and Wixson, is for policy, measurement, and literacy researchers to collaborate in conducting and reporting research. Each group needs to learn more about the others' work in order to affect real change in in the lives of children and teachers.

University of Michigan School of Education

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Chapter forthcoming in Kamil, M. L., Pearson, P. D., & Mosenthal, P. (Eds.), Handbook of Reading Research (3rd. ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.