The Alignment of Standards and 21st Century Literacy

By Alison Villanueva and Elizabeth Fox.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

At the beginning of the 1990’s the United States made a move towards a standards-based education driven by the perception that the American education system was losing ground internationally, and that it must be drastically reformed in order to provide a competitive 21st century workforce. After twenty years however, a “standards-based accountability system” has been replaced with a “test based accountability system” that is far from representing the common standards (Forgione & Doorey, 2010). After years of implementing standardized tests, it is clear that these tests assess student knowledge and understanding at basic levels and rarely give a full picture of what a student can academically do.
State and national policy makers, educators, industry and business leaders agree that because of globalization, the American workforce must become better prepared to compete internationally. Most also agree that there needs to be a sea change in the American educational system to adequately prepare the American labor force (Tough, 4). The need and opportunity for such a change is at hand. Legislation on both the national and state levels, motivated by “Race to the Top” is reshaping education, challenging unions (New York Times, 1) and revisiting both standards and assessment.
We recommend a new work group, comprised of representatives from a broad range of stakeholders who do not have direct economic ties to the current standards and assessment industry. This new work group would be charged with developing common standards and assessments that are firmly based in a critical/multi-literacy definition of reading, and are more likely to create the changes in instruction that will prepare our young people to succeed in college and in the workplace.

Keywords: New Literacies, Race to the Top, Common Core Standards, 21st Century Assessments

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp.157-170. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 818.559KB).

Alison Villanueva

Doctoral Candidate, English Education, Department of Arts and Humanities, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA

Alison Villanueva is completing her Ph.D. in the Department of Arts and Humanities at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. She is co-founder of Studies in Educational Innovations (SEI) a Research and Design group focused on Creativity and 21st Century teaching and learning. She is an instructor for the Elementary Inclusive Program in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching.

Elizabeth Fox

Coach, Center for the Professional Education of Teachers, Department of English Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, Brooklyn, New York, USA

Elizabeth Fox is a doctoral candidate in the English Education program and a professional development advisor for the Center for the Professional Education of Teachers (CPET) at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her dual roles enable her to apply cutting-edge research to the problems of school culture, curriculum, instruction and assessment faced by a wide range of public schools, thereby translating research into practice.


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