Defining Literacy Standards
Essays on Assessment, Inclusion, Pedagogy and Civic Engagement
Ronald A. Sudol, Alice S. Horning
As individual institutions of education at all levels respond to the call for greater accountability and assessment, those who teach literacy face the challenging task of choosing what to measure and how to measure it. Both defining literacy clearly and tying that definition to strategies for assessment are two of many challenges faced by educators, theorists, and members of the public who assume responsibility for assessing literacy as well as developing and improving literacy programs. In a pluralistic and democratic society sensitive to multicultural variation, we need to find our way between the competing needs for inclusiveness and for clear and useful standards. Multiple definitions of literacy raise the issue of whether there can be a standard or set of standards and if so, what they are in an environment of multiple literacies. Indeed, the downside of the defeat of older monolithic notions of literacy is the undermining or at least the questioning of well-established methods of literacy assessment. To some extent, the older methods of assessment have been revised in the light of more expansive definitions of literacy. But will this kind of revision be enough? How are the criteria for judgment to be known and applied? Thus, this volume addresses the problems of assessing literacy development in the context of multiple and inclusive definitions. Each section consists of chapters that deal with the issue of definitions per se, with standards in postsecondary settings, with the K-12 situation, and with alternative, non-school environments where literacy is critical to human functioning in a democratic society.