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TWU Reading Department addresses adolescent literacy



DENTON — The concept of implementing “reading across the curriculum” in America’s schools is gaining attention as more emphasis is being placed on adolescent literacy issues. One Texas Woman’s University reading professor says the movement goes beyond teaching students “how” to read to gaining a better understanding of “what” they’re reading.

“Schools haven’t been doing a good job of preparing students to adequately read more complex texts as they move through the grades,” said Dr. Lettie Albright, assistant professor of reading at TWU. “Students can’t learn by being fed information. When they begin their career, they often don’t know how to apply what they’ve read. If they’re accustomed to just spitting out information, they can’t do it.”

A recent report by ACT, an independent organization that provides college assessment exams, among other services, revealed that many high school students graduate without the reading skills they’ll need to succeed in college and in workforce training programs.

The report, titled, “Reading Between the Lines,” found that only about half of the nearly 1.2 million 2005 high school graduates who took the ACT college admissions and placement exam met the College Readiness Benchmark for Reading. The full report may be found at www.act.org/path/policy/pdf/reading_report.pdf.

The TWU Department of Reading addresses the issue of adolescent literacy through a partnership with the Arlington Independent School District. The program, which uses Title 1 funds to help teachers earn master’s degrees in reading, draws not only reading teachers, but math, special education and career exploration teachers as well, Dr. Albright said.

“We have a large number of middle and high school teachers from Arlington,” she said. “These teachers from urban Title 1 schools have many students with different backgrounds. We’re exploring ways to tap into students’ interests and strengths.”

Though many students say they’re not interested in reading, Dr. Albright believes they’re just reading different things. “Some kids say they aren’t readers, but they’ll read on a computer for hours. They’ll read video game manuals, magazines and other materials,” she said.

Dr. Albright believes students need to be exposed to different, multicultural texts. “Texts used in the classroom often are traditional Western, white male texts that ignore diversity. This turns some of the students off reading because they don’t see themselves.”

Dr. Albright said one of the main focal points of adolescent literacy is teaching students to understand what they read — to question the text and question what the author is trying to say.

“Reading is more than understanding words,” she said. “It’s creating meaning out of the words.”



The Texas Woman’s University Department of Reading will present its Summer Institute, titled “Literacy Across the Curriculum, K-12,” from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 29-30. The institute will be held in the Multipurpose Classroom and Laboratory (MCL) Building, located on Bell Avenue on the university’s Denton campus. Registration is $240. To register, or for more information, contact the TWU Office of Lifelong Learning at (800) 250-7808 or (940) 898-3408, or visit www.twu.edu/lifelong.

The keynote speaker for the institute is Dr. David W. Moore, professor of reading and language arts and secondary education at Arizona State University West. He has written or co-authored several books, including “Developing Readers and Writers in the Content Areas K-12.”


For Further Information Contact:

Karen Garcia
Senior Copywriter
Tel: (940) 898-3456
e-mail: kgarcia@twu.edu

Page last updated January 22, 2009

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