For my final blog post I wanted to reflect on a few of my biggest takeaways from all that I have learned this semester in EDUC 511-Politics of Reading. It has been challenging to refine this extensive list and I was forced to consider the areas where this material will apply to my education and future career as a speech-language pathologist. I am passionate about working with children who have developmental disabilities and I aspire to work in a setting with both early intervention programs and an early school-aged population. As I work with children and their families, I will also be closely working alongside teachers, administrators, and other professionals within the school system in order to develop Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and best support the child. When considering my undergraduate schooling thus far along with my experience working with speech-language pathologists, I’ve understood an even greater overlap and and the anticipated impact that educational policy, literacy, standardized tests, and common core standards will have on my future career. So with that, I have listed five applicable things that I see as my greatest takeaways from this course:
- Knowledge of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002—This implemented reading policy in early grades and research-based claims mandated that phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills were covered thoroughly. This lead to the implementation of specific programs with the hopes of boosting student achievement. While this sounds ideal, and we do need to recognize when a student is falling behind, this has also resulted in a multitude of additional tests in order to assess performance. I also learned the NAEP’s definition of “proficient” in a testing area and how there are large percentages of students below this mark of adequate understanding.
- The passing of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in 2010—This set of standards was passed eight years after the No Child Left Behind Act with the intent of addressing educational iniquities. Many educators argue that these early standards are not developmentally appropriate for the majority of students, and especially challenging for those who have developmental disabilities. These standards are also created as a tactic to combat poverty and the achievement gaps associated, but often don’t account for a lack of resources within schools with greater populations of low-income families.
- CCSS literacy standards—These specifically emphasize comprehension, higher-level thinking, comprehension, expanding texts, and meeting the process of reading. This stresses a greater understanding of the criteria surrounding a text and drawing greater conclusions.
- CCSS language policies doesn’t pan out when actually in practice—There are harsh policies around language learning, especially in terms of English Language Learners (ELLs) which includes around 10% of students in North Carolina. Despite my misconceptions about ESL classes prior to learning about the variety of language policies, I was enlightened about the differing structures and stigmas associated with bilingual education, bi-literacy, English immersion, and dual-language programs.
- And finally, educators can advocate for policy change! —Teachers are the ones implementing these policies and have a greater understanding of their implications in comparison to the policy makers. This can even be done digitally but as those serving children and families, we are responsible for supporting them and providing the best resources.
This summer I am excited to translate this greater knowledge of education policy as work with clinicians and teachers through the TEACCH Autism Program. Through their summer trainings, this center works with educators to provide hands-on opportunities to provide a better understanding of the unique learning styles of those with autism. This program works closely with adapting classroom settings, literacy, academic skills, communication, and social strategies. I am excited to build on my knowledge and learn how I can be a better advocate for my future clients, their families, and hopefully all students who are affected by educational policy! Thank you Professor Hall for enlightening my classmates and I regarding these very relevant topics of the policy reforms surrounding education and literacy.
*All information included above has been taken from lecture notes and discussions in our EDUC 511 course