Harvard Educational Review
  1. Spring 2008 Issue »

    Editor's Review of Informed Choices for Struggling Adolescent Readers and Taking Action on Adolescent Literacy

    Jacy Ippolito

    Full Text:

    Informed Choices for Struggling Adolescent Readers: A Research-Based Guide to Instructional Programs and Practices
    by Donald D. Deshler, Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar, Gina Biancarosa, & Marnie Nair.
    Newark, DE: International Reading Association, 2007. 264 pp. $28.95.

    Taking Action on Adolescent Literacy: An Implementation Guide for School Leaders
    by Judith L. Irvin, Julie Meltzer, & Melinda Dukes.
    Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2007. 268 pp. $30.95.

    Concerns about adolescents’ impoverished reading and writing skills have existed in U.S. classrooms for much of the twentieth century (Moore, Bean, Birdyshaw, & Rycik, 1999; National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983; also see Jacobs in this issue). Toward the end of the century, national and international organizations1 began calling for policymakers and practitioners to unite in the common goal of developing a better understanding of teaching reading and writing at secondary levels. The research community echoed this call, with adolescent literacy topping the International Reading Association’s annual researcher-generated “What’s Hot, What’s Not” list since 2001 (Cassidy, 2007).

    Following the 2004 release of the landmark Reading Next report, and its introduction of the term adolescent literacy crisis (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006, p. 7), a shift occurred in the publishing world. Although texts on topics related to adolescents’ reading and writing skills were certainly published before 2004 (see Jacobs in this issue), the newly named adolescent literacy crisis prompted the publication of dozens of adolescent literacy books and reports in the span of only a few years (see Table 1 for a sample of recently published adolescent literacy books and reports). The rapid proliferation of literature on adolescent literacy is an encouraging sign that the field of education is now appropriately concerned with how to improve reading, writing, and thinking in U.S. middle and high schools; however, new adolescent literacy materials are appearing at such a swift pace that even literacy-focused middle and high school administrators and teachers may be overwhelmed when choosing resources to guide instructional improvement efforts.

    Despite the emergence of dozens of new books and reports detailing various aspects of adolescent literacy research and practice, including the previously underrepresented topics of adolescent English-language learners (ELLs; Short & Fitzsimmons, 2007) and writing instruction (Graham & Perin, 2007), few (if any) resources have been able to answer the call set forth in Reading Next for a “balanced vision” of adolescent literacy work (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006, p. 5). This balanced vision includes “effecting immediate change for current students” while simultaneously “building the literacy field’s knowledge base” (p. 5). Few texts have been able to strike such a balance between action and theory, simultaneously capturing the manifold reasons for the adolescent literacy crisis, mining the current literacy and school reform research for solutions, and then delivering jargon-free answers to common instructional questions. This is an understandably tall order for a single text to fill, yet resources that provide a balanced vision are needed by U.S. middle and high school staff who have limited time to study the growing number of adolescent literacy texts appearing on the market.

    Although a single-text solution that effectively presents a balanced vision of adolescent literacy may be unavailable, a potential solution does exist in the form of two recently published books — Informed Choices for Struggling Adolescent Readers: A Research-Based Guide to Instructional Programs and Practices (2007) and Taking Action on Adolescent Literacy: An Implementation Guide for School Leaders (2007). As their titles suggest, these texts, respectively, provide an overview of current adolescent literacy research and interventions, and an implementation guide for school leaders to enact changes that may improve adolescents’ literacy achievement. If these two books are consulted as a pair, perhaps as the focus of a school-based literacy team’s work, then school leaders may find both the theoretical and practical supports — the balanced vision — needed to begin improving adolescent literacy achievement now.

    Informed Choices: Building Background Knowledge

    In striking a balance between adolescent literacy theory and practice, school staff should first consider Informed Choices for Struggling Adolescent Readers for its excellent review of current adolescent literacy research and interventions. The premise of the book is that middle and high school educators will make better organizational and instructional decisions if they are equipped with comprehensive information about adolescent literacy research and interventions. In Part One, the first three chapters of the book provide an in-depth understanding of the causes behind the adolescent literacy crisis and an understanding of the components of high-quality adolescent literacy instruction. The final two chapters of this section provide detailed information about the costs and processes associated with improving instruction at scale. The research-based suggestions made throughout these chapters are supported by frequent case-study vignettes from middle and high schools first noted in the book’s introduction, providing brief glimpses of the successful translation of research into practice. Building on the foundational understanding of adolescent literacy established in Part One, Part Two provides an overview of the array of instructional programs and interventions currently aimed at improving adolescent literacy.

    Administrators and teachers may not read Informed Choices in a single sitting, as each chapter is filled with numerous big ideas and scores of references to larger research studies; however, Informed Choices is exactly the book that administrators and teachers should, and hopefully will, reference repeatedly as they make organizational and instructional decisions. Informed Choices collects and clearly explains much of the recent research on adolescent literacy that otherwise can only be gleaned by reading dozens of books and journal articles. The book’s first three chapters respectively address the “myths and realities” of adolescent literacy, the components of adolescent literacy,2 and how those components can be supported by particular instructional characteristics.3 Together, these chapters help readers understand why adolescent literacy is important, why adolescent literacy in the United States is currently in crisis, and what instructional components are needed to improve achievement now.

    Although current research on adolescent literacy is certainly reviewed elsewhere (see Table 1), Informed Choices is written with school staff in mind and highlights instructional suggestions whenever describing research. For instance, in the section on vocabulary and background knowledge (chapter 2), the authors point out that an important part of increasing adolescents’ vocabularies is “pushing students to become active learners of words by providing them with opportunities and the motivation to talk about, compare, analyze, and use target words and by providing these opportunities on multiple occasions” (p. 41). As with most suggestions found in Informed Choices, this suggestion is buoyed by references to research-based resources such as Beck, McKeown, & Kucan’s influential book, Bringing Words to Life (2002), and articles by August, Carlo, Dressler, & Snow (2005) and Nagy & Scott (2000) that may be of great interest to literacy specialists and coaches.

    Where possible, the authors offer further recommendations for how practices can be modified and improved for particular populations, like including cognate instruction5 for English-language learners (e.g., teaching ELLs to notice and capitalize on similar spellings, meanings, and patterns behind words that share the same root in both their first and second languages). Following this specific instructional suggestion aimed at adolescent ELLs, the authors end by providing vignettes from Boston’s Fitzgerald and Hampshire Schools — two of the case-study schools highlighted throughout the book — demonstrating how such instructional suggestions have been successfully enacted with fourth, fifth, and sixth graders in the Boston area. In many respects, the first three chapters of Informed Choices efficiently provide an in-depth, research-based extension of the fifteen elements of effective adolescent literacy programs4 first presented in Reading Next (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006, p. 12) and could easily be assigned as background reading for a school’s content-area teachers or for preservice teachers in an adolescent literacy course. At the very least, the “myths and realities” chapter should be read by teacher teams in order to discredit myths such as “Adolescents today can’t read like adolescents used to read” (p. 14). Such myths need to be replaced with realities such as “Adolescent literacy demands have changed radically” (p. 18), and “Instruction has not kept pace with demands” (p. 19).

    In Part Two of Informed Choices, the authors introduce and describe forty-eight programs and interventions aimed at improving adolescents’ reading, writing, and thinking skills. This section of the book provides nuanced, research-based descriptions of high-quality adolescent literacy instruction so that administrators and teachers can choose interventions that are best suited for their individual schools. Although Part Two of Informed Choices first appears to be a static, glorified list of adolescent literacy programs, it may be one of the most valuable contributions the book makes to the field by providing a resource that administrators and teachers can quickly and easily refer to over time.

    The authors state that four basic questions guided their selection of the forty-eight interventions included in the book: (1) Was the program aimed at adolescents? (2) Was the program literacy-focused? (3) Were the materials age-appropriate? and (4) Was the program implemented widely? These are reasonable criteria that mirror the questions school staff might ask when considering the adoption of an intervention. Notably absent from the list is the question, Does the intervention significantly improve student achievement? Or, put another way, Does the intervention work? The authors were wise to not provide clear-cut answers on this front, particularly given the dearth of high-quality evaluations available for all the interventions. Furthermore, the authors emphasize that it is not a simple matter of whether an intervention works or not, but more a matter of whether an intervention works for a particular school and particular student population. They suggest that teachers and administrators “take care to go the extra step of determining whether that evidence [of programmatic success] is for students similar to their own. . . . Administrators and teachers should at the very least investigate the number and results of studies conducted with students similar to theirs” (p. 120). Such cautions reflect the overall tenor of Informed Choices, as the authors provide background information, not prescriptions.

    In a series of four helpful matrices (pp. 122–129), the authors sort the forty-eight interventions by the types of students the programs serve, program features, evaluated features, and skills and strategies the programs highlight. Following the matrices is an alphabetized section of program descriptions that detail the instructional approach, professional development mechanism, available program evaluation information, and contact information for each program. The matrices and program descriptions will serve school staff well, as the information about the programs is displayed in a way that can be quickly accessed and analyzed according to student needs. For example, an administrator looking for an intervention that targets ELLs, focuses on vocabulary, and has strong professional development and technology components can easily use the matrices to find a program such as Accelerated Reader, which seems to fit all of the above criteria. By turning to the subsequent program description, an administrator can read more about Accelerated Reader in order to decide whether or not the instructional approach, professional development, and program evaluation components are a good fit for the school. By designing Part Two of Informed Choices to be used in this manner, the authors acknowledge that only administrators and teachers know their schools and students well enough to choose which recommendations, instructional practices, and interventions will work best.

    One of the greatest strengths of Informed Choices — one of the strongest reasons for disseminating the book widely to middle and high school administrators and teachers — is that the authors never shy away from the complexity of the topic nor from the details of the research underlying recommended practices. At the end of nearly every chapter, the authors are careful to note that developing, implementing, and maintaining a high-quality, literacy-oriented instructional program grounded in the content areas is not a simple task. For example, at the end of chapter 2, after discussing the most promising research behind the seven identified components of adolescent literacy instruction, the authors caution that “an effective adolescent literacy program will not simply meld all of the types of content mentioned [in the chapter]” (p. 47). The authors repeatedly remind readers that improving adolescents’ reading, writing, and thinking skills is not merely a matter of piling on various instructional techniques; instead, improvement comes from continual analysis of students’ needs and careful selection of the research-proven instructional practices to meet those needs. Such caveats throughout the book serve as necessary (if sometimes painful) reminders that the path ahead for secondary administrators and teachers is neither well marked nor easy to tread. By highlighting complexity at every turn, the authors guide readers through a process of how to think about adolescent literacy and the variety of interventions and implementation options available, without offering quick-fix strategies or belittling the reader by oversimplifying the content.

    Informed Choices has many strengths, the most prominent being its clear, comprehensive, and nuanced introduction to the field of adolescent literacy. However, the book has one major shortcoming. Because of its focus on building administrators’ and teachers’ background knowledge, readers may finish the book with an important question: How do we apply this information? Chapters 4 and 5 begin to address this question, tackling the thorny problems of paying for adolescent literacy interventions and implementing the interventions in schools where content-area teachers may be less than enthusiastic about devoting their time and energy to literacy instruction. Nevertheless, these two rich chapters provide only the briefest of road maps for how to enact change.

    Echoing larger discussions of school reform (Elmore, 2004; Fullan, 2001, 2007) and effective literacy reform (Goldenberg, 2004; Langer, 2002), chapters 4 and 5 discuss school improvement efforts without providing clear action steps that spur readers to become agents of reform. For example, chapter 5 presents the case study of a Midwestern high school undergoing reform and outlines its five-year process of change, including enhancing content instruction, and embedding strategy instruction. However, while the process may make a great deal of sense in the case study presented, it is not readily apparent to readers how the change process described can be reproduced in other school contexts. The closest Informed Choices comes to a clear guide for implementing reform is found in a discussion of overarching principles that “drive successful adolescent literacy initiatives” (p. 98), such as “Organizations and people must be ready to change,” and “Key stakeholders must be engaged in making decisions about changes to be made.” These are undoubtedly important aspects of undertaking change efforts, but only the savviest administrators and teachers will be able to translate these principles into actionable steps in a particular school.

    The major strength and ultimate weakness of Informed Choices is that it suggests that the background knowledge it provides may be enough to help readers make “informed choices” regarding the myriad aspects of adolescent literacy introduced in the volume. Even researchers, policymakers, and practitioners who are well versed in adolescent literacy research may have difficulty making informed decisions after a single pass through the book. Perhaps the book’s true power lies in its ability to serve as an excellent reference and companion to a more prescriptive text that guides administrators and teachers down the road of literacy-based school reform. Informed Choices provides an excellent “what” and “why” with regard to adolescent literacy instruction, but for middle and high school administrators and teachers who need to make decisions today, Informed Choices needs a companion text to further outline “how” to quickly enact change.

    Taking Action: Outlining the Change Process

    Taking Action on Adolescent Literacy may be the best available companion text to Informed Choices, because Taking Action is designed as an implementation guide for school leaders (e.g., administrators, teacher-leaders, literacy coaches) to immediately begin changing patterns within a school to improve adolescents’ literacy achievement. It is a book that, when read together with Informed Choices, provides the much-needed balance called for in Reading Next. Taking Action contains ideas similar to those presented in Informed Choices about what to do (e.g., connecting literacy instruction and content-area knowledge); however, Taking Action focuses much more on how school leaders can create change. Based on the authors’ own research and extensive experiences in middle and high schools, Taking Action offers wise recommendations about how to form a vision, build consensus, and begin doing the actual work of changing literacy instruction at scale. Weaving together vast numbers of suggestions into a manageable action plan, the authors posit a three-stage model that includes developing and communicating a literacy vision; translating the literacy vision into action; and creating and sustaining a supportive, literacy-rich environment (pp. 2–3). This three-stage plan is further explained through a diagram entitled “Leadership Model for Improving Adolescent Literacy” (p. 17). This diagram guides the structure and content of Taking Action after the book’s introduction, which helps readers locate particular suggestions within the larger context of the authors’ change model.

    Written in jargon-free prose, and using fewer citations and more case-study vignettes than Informed Choices, the book presents research in bite-size, action-oriented sections that administrators and teacher-leaders will appreciate. On nearly every page, the book answers the question: “What do I need to do now to begin improving literacy achievement?” Unlike Informed Choices, Taking Action does not provide as rich (or as nuanced) descriptions of research studies that can build background knowledge and guide administrators and teachers in their decisionmaking. Instead, Taking Action errs on the side of providing just enough background knowledge to help school leaders understand how to follow the proposed comprehensive model for change. Taking Action certainly should not be the only resource administrators and teachers consult as they undertake adolescent literacy reform efforts, yet it does provide a powerful framework that could easily be supplemented with the rich information from Informed Choices.

    The real power of Taking Action lies in its robust “Leadership Model for Improving Adolescent Literacy.” This multifaceted bull’s-eye diagram has three main components that reflect the context, work, and core of adolescent literacy reform. The outer rings of this bull’s-eye include “Sustaining Literacy Development” and “Integrating Literacy & Learning.” The inner ring includes action steps such as “Implement a Literacy Action Plan,” “Support Teachers to Improve Instruction,” “Use Data to Make Decisions,” “Build Leadership Capacity,” and “Allocate Resources.” The center of the bull’s-eye focuses on improving “Student Motivation, Engagement, and Achievement” — a primary goal of adolescent literacy reform.

    Taking Action is organized around the various aspects introduced in this diagram, with the first few chapters focusing on the inner rings: it addresses why adolescents’ motivation and engagement is important, why it is essential to integrate literacy and learning across content areas, and how literacy development can be sustained with community and district support. These chapters most resemble the resources provided in Informed Choices, ranging from discussions of the literacy needs of ELLs and students with learning disabilities, to ways that leaders can support content-area teachers in providing literacy support. Compared to the descriptions of research found in Informed Choices, the first chapters of Taking Action initially feel a bit sparse; however, these introductory chapters provide clear rationales for why adolescents need literacy support and why it is up to school leaders and content-area teachers to help provide that support. With fewer citations per paragraph, many bulleted lists, and chapter-ends that include summary “Key Messages,” the chapters in Taking Action can easily be consumed by busy school staff and can provide a starting point for using the more-detailed information in Informed Choices.

    Administrators, department heads, teacher-leaders, literacy coaches, and other school personnel in charge of leading literacy-based school change will surely find Part Two of Taking Action — the “Action Steps” chapters beginning with chapter 5 — to be most helpful. Each chapter tackles one of the sections of the inner ring of the leadership diagram, presenting school leaders with concrete steps for creating schoolwide literacy action plans that address students’ weaknesses and support teachers in improving their instruction in light of students’ needs. Helpful charts are presented throughout the five chapters in Part Two, connecting improvement goals (e.g., coordinating curriculum and instruction across subject areas) with time lines, action steps, people responsible, resources, and evidence of success. These charts demonstrate how school leaders can connect research-based suggestions, such as using formal and informal assessment instruments with the individual steps needed to implement these suggestions. Furthermore, these final five chapters are filled with realistic advice about a variety of concerns, including how to work with resistant teachers and how to allocate time for the various activities needed to support change efforts. These chapters will appeal to practical, change-oriented school leaders who might periodically grow impatient with the extensive background knowledge and limited action steps provided by Informed Choices.

    Overall, Taking Action is a highly readable book that mirrors and expands upon brief recommendations made in literacy reform-oriented reports such as Reading Next and Torgesen, Houston, and Rissman’s Improving Literacy Instruction in Middle and High Schools: A Guide for Principals (2007). Administrators can consume Taking Action in a day or two and then later refer to the dozens of helpful graphics and charts when planning staff development sessions. The book is structured to be useful to busy administrators, with each chapter organized around a different component of the leadership model diagram, text boxes reiterating why each component is essential, and bulleted lists of “Key Messages” at the end of each chapter summarizing main points. The structure and prose of the book make it easy for school leaders to quickly skim and discover salient next steps. Moreover, the book is immediately useful to literacy coaches and reading specialists who may reference the graphics and bulleted lists when organizing literacy team meetings. The authors of this book understand the reality that most school leaders don’t have the time or resources to become experts in adolescent literacy. Nevertheless, Taking Action appropriately positions administrators and other staff as instructional leaders who must know enough about adolescent literacy to guide necessary changes.

    A Balanced Vision: Why Two Texts Are Better Than One

    Administrators and teachers should read Informed Choices and Taking Action as a pair in order to glimpse the balanced vision articulated in Reading Next. These books are near-perfect companions because of their distinct but related goals: Informed Choices reviews the manifold research-based possibilities for improving adolescents’ literacy skills; Taking Action provides action steps for leaders to improve adolescent literacy instruction and achievement in schools. The authors of Informed Choices make it clear that there is already a great deal of research providing guidance for what kinds of instruction and instructional settings support adolescents’ literacy skills. The authors of Taking Action make it clear that if school leaders follow specific action steps, positive changes can occur. Both books provide information and options to administrators and teachers looking for concrete answers about adolescent literacy reform. Taking Action provides straightforward suggestions that may appear to gloss over larger debates in the research literature, while Informed Choices details the complexity of adolescent literacy instructional decisions while at times appearing to gloss over immediate action steps. Taken together, the books build upon each other’s strengths and jointly address any individual shortcomings.

    An example of how these texts complement each other is illustrated by their respective discussions of literacy coaching as a form of professional development and support for middle and high school teachers. Reading Next identifies long-term and ongoing professional development as a key element of adolescent literacy programs. Both Informed Choices and Taking Action discuss literacy coaching as one of the more promising professional development models currently available. Although coaching is presented as a promising support in both books, differences arise when one compares how the two sets of authors introduce the topic — differences that clearly illustrate the need for readers to consult the books as a pair.

    In Taking Action, coaches are introduced with the statements, “A school’s literacy improvement effort can be more effective if led by a professional literacy coach. A well-trained literacy coach offers invaluable feedback to teachers, providing a clearer picture of their strengths and weaknesses” (p. 149). These statements are straightforward and suggest to administrators that coaches are a worthwhile investment. In Informed Choices, literacy coaching is also offered as a viable form of professional development and support, but it is introduced in a far more cautious manner: “Some states and districts have turned to literacy coaches as a form of support for classroom teachers seeking to meet the literacy needs of their students. As this volume goes to press, there is little systematic research on the efficacy of literacy coaches, particularly at the secondary level” (p. 58).

    While the authors of Informed Choices are clear whenever the research base does not fully support a particular decision, such as hiring coaches, the authors of Taking Action are more willing to make recommendations based equally on research and their own experiences in school reform. Whether or not to spend $50,000 to hire a new literacy coach is precisely the kind of decision that Informed Choices does not necessarily help administrators make, and yet the scant research behind literacy coaching is not discussed at length in Taking Action. The authors of Taking Action are willing and able to take the additional step in recommending practices that they believe school leaders may want to consider, even if the research base has not yet fully endorsed those practices. Although recommending practices that are not fully supported by research is a somewhat risky enterprise, the authors of Taking Action are appropriately heeding the call from Reading Next to attend to the needs of students in schools today. Administrators who are eager to provide high-quality professional development opportunities for their teachers may want to consider literacy coaching as a promising option even before the practice is fully supported by research. Moreover, by consulting both Taking Action and Informed Choices in concert, school leaders will be able to cross-reference recommendations before moving forward, thereby safeguarding against making hasty decisions. Neither book’s approach may be completely satisfying alone, alternately erring on the side of too little or too much caution; however, together the books highlight the tensions between action and research in adolescent literacy and ultimately offer valuable information about how to make informed decisions now.

    Informed Choices and Taking Action mirror the tensions that secondary administrators, teachers, and other school staff face on a daily basis. On one hand, middle and high school leaders want to institute research-based organizational and instructional practices that improve adolescent literacy achievement. On the other hand, these leaders must make thousands of decisions every week based on constantly shifting student, parent, teacher, and economic factors. There simply may not be enough research, time, or money to support all of the decisions that must be made. By consulting Informed Choices and Taking Action simultaneously, and specifically, by using Taking Action as an overall guide to reform while using Informed Choices to add nuance and complexity to the decisionmaking process, middle and high school administrators and staff have a much better chance of creating change. Middle and high school literacy teams nationwide should consult these two texts as they prepare to meet the challenge of improving adolescent literacy achievement.


    1. Such organizations include: the Alliance for Excellent Education (http://www.all4ed.org/), the Carnegie Corporation of New York (http://www.carnegie.org/literacy/), the International Reading Association (http://www.ira.org/), and the National Council of Teachers of English (http://www.ncte.org/collections/adolescentliteracy).

    2. Components described in the text (pp. 37–47), include decoding, fluency, vocabulary and background knowledge, direct and explicit comprehension instruction, writing, information and communication technologies literacies, and alternative literacies.

    3. Instructional characteristics described in the text (pp. 49–55) include teaching for transfer, diverse texts, self-direction and choice in goal setting and reading, text-based collaborative learning, formative and summative assessment, scaffolds for struggling students in content areas, and technology as a tool. Supports (pp. 57–59), include increased time for literacy, high-quality professional development, teacher teams, coordination across content areas, strategic tutoring, and literacy coaches.

    4. The fifteen elements listed in Reading Next are: (1) direct, explicit comprehension instruction, (2) effective instructional principles embedded in content, (3) motivation and self-directed learning, (4) text-based collaborative learning, (5) strategic tutoring, (6) diverse texts, (7) intensive writing, (8) a technology component, (9) ongoing formative assessment of students, (10) extended time for literacy, (11) professional development, (12) ongoing summative assessment of students and programs, (13) teacher teams, (14) leadership, and (15) a comprehensive and coordinated literacy program (Biancarosa & Snow, 2004, pp. 3–4).

    5. Cognate instruction might include, for example, connecting words such as admiración in Spanish with admiration in English. Asking students to note similarities and differences provides the opportunity to learn how the word-ending “-ción” often becomes “-tion” when shifting from Spanish to English.

    6. For a more comprehensive listing of recently published adolescent literacy books and reports, please visit http://www.adlit.org/researchandreports/ and http://www.carnegie.org/literacy/


    Alvermann, D. E., Hinchman, K. A., Moore, D. W., Phelps, S. F., & Waff, D. R. (Eds.). (2006). Reconceptualizing the literacies in adolescents’ lives. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    Alvermann, D. E., Hinchman, K. A., & Sheridan-Thomas, H. K. (Eds.). (2008). Best practices in adolescent literacy instruction. New York: The Guilford Press.

    August, D., Carlo, M., Dressler, C., & Snow, C. (2005). The critical role of vocabulary development for English language learners. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 20, 50–57.

    Beck, I. L., & McKeown, M. G., & Kucan, L. (2002). Bringing words to life. New York: The Guilford Press.

    Beers, K., Probst, R. E., & Rief, L. (Eds.). (2007). Adolescent literacy: Turning promise into practice. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

    Biancarosa, G., & Snow, C. E. (2004). Reading next — A vision for action and research in middle and high school literacy: A report from Carnegie Corporation of New York. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education. Retrieved December 17, 2007, from http://www.carnegie.org/literacy/pdf/ReadingNext.pdf

    Biancarosa, G., & Snow, C. E. (2006). Reading next: A vision for action and research in middle and high school literacy A report from Carnegie Corporation of New York (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education. Retrieved December 17, 2007, from http://www.carnegie.org/literacy/pdf/ReadingNext.pdf

    Cassidy, J. (2007, February). What’s hot, what’s not for 2007. Reading Today, 24(4), 1.

    Conley, M. W., Freidhoff, J. R., Sherry, M. B., & Tuckey, S. F. (Eds.). (2008). Meeting the challenge of adolescent literacy: Research we have, research we need. New York: Guilford Press.

    Elmore, R. F. (2004). School reform from the inside out: Policy, practice, and performance. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

    Fisher, D. B., Brozo, W. G., Frey, N., & Ivey G. (2006). 50 content area strategies for adolescent literacy. New York: Prentice Hall.

    Fisher, D. B., & Frey, N. (2007). Improving adolescent literacy: Content area strategies at work (2nd ed.). New York: Prentice Hall.

    Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a culture of change: Being effective in complex times. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Fullan, M. (2007). The new meaning of educational change (4th ed.). New York: Teachers College Press.

    Goldenberg, C. (2004). Successful school change: Creating settings to improve teaching and learning. New York: Teachers College Press.

    Graham, S., & Perin, D. (2007). Writing next: Effective strategies to improve writing of adolescents in middle and high schools. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.

    Heller, R., & Greenleaf, C. (2007). Literacy instruction in the content areas: Getting to the core of middle and high school improvement. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.

    Ivey, G., & Fisher, D. (2006). Creating literacy-rich schools for adolescents. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

    Jetton, T. L., & Dole, J. A. (Eds.). (2007). Adolescent literacy research and practice. New York: The Guilford Press.

    Langer, J. A. (2002). Effective literacy instruction: Building successful reading and writing programs. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

    Lewis, J., & Moorman, G. (Eds.). (2007). Adolescent literacy instruction: Policies and promising practices. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

    Moore, D. W., Bean, T. W., Birdyshaw, D., & Rycik, J. A. (1999). Adolescent literacy: A position statement for the Commission of Adolescent Literacy of the International Reading Association. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

    Nagy, W. E., & Scott, J. A. (2000). Vocabulary processes. In M. L. Kamil, P. B. Mosenthal, P. D. Pearson, & R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of reading research (Vol. III, pp. 269–284). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    National Association of State Boards of Education. (2005, October). Reading at risk: How states can respond to the crisis in adolescent literacy. Alexandria, VA: Author.

    National Commission on Excellence in Education. (1983). A nation at risk: The imperative for educational reform. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

    National School Boards Association. (2006). The next chapter: A school board guide to improving adolescent literacy. Alexandria, VA: Author.

    Quint, J. (2006). Meeting five critical challenges of high school reform: Lessons from research on three reform models. New York: MDRC.

    Pressley, M., Billman, A. K., Perry, K. H., Reffitt, K. E., & Reynolds, J. M. (Eds.). (2007). Shaping literacy achievement: Research we have, research we need. New York: The Guilford Press.

    Short, D., & Fitzsimmons, S. (2007). Double the work: Challenges and solutions to acquiring language and academic literacy for adolescent English language learners — A report to Carnegie Corporation of New York. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education. Retrieved December 17, 2007, from http://www.all4ed.org/files/DoubleWork.pdf

    Snow, C. E., Porche, M. V., Tabors, P. O., & Harris, S. R. (2007). Is literacy enough?: Pathways to academic success for Adolescents. Baltimore: Brookes.

    Sturtevant, E. G., Boyd, F. B., Brozo, W. G., Hinchman, K. A., Moore, D. W., & Alvermann, D. E. (2006). Principled practices for adolescent literacy: A framework for instruction and policy. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    Torgesen, J., Houston, D., & Rissman, L. (2007). Improving literacy instruction in middle and high schools: A guide for principals. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction.

    Torgesen, J. K., Houston, D. D., Rissman, L. M., Decker, S. M., Roberts, G., Vaughn, S., et al. (2007). Academic literacy instruction for adolescents: A guidance document from the Center on Instruction. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction.

    Table 1 A Sample of Recently Published Adolescent Literacy Books and Reports


    Best Practices in Adolescent Literacy Instruction, edited by Alvermann et al.

    Meeting the Challenge of Adolescent Literacy: Research We Have, Research We Need, edited by Conley et al.


    Academic Literacy Instruction for Adolescents: A Guidance Document from the Center on Instruction, edited by Torgesen et al.

    Adolescent Literacy Instruction: Policies and Promising Practices, edited by Lewis & Moorman

    Adolescent Literacy Research and Practice, edited Jetton & Dole

    Adolescent Literacy: Turning Promise into Practice, edited by Beers et al.

    Double the Work: Challenges and Solutions to Acquiring Language and Academic Literacy for Adolescent English Language Learners, by Short & Fitzsimmons

    Improving Adolescent Literacy: Content Area Strategies at Work, by Fisher & Frey

    Improving Literacy Instruction in Middle and High Schools: A Guide for Principals, edited by Torgesen et al.

    Informed Choices for Struggling Adolescent Readers: A Research-Based Guide to Instructional Programs and Practices, by Deshler et al.

    Is Literacy Enough?: Pathways to Academic Success for Adolescents, by Snow et al.

    Literacy Instruction in The Content Areas: Getting to the Core of Middle and High School Improvement, by Heller & Greenleaf

    Shaping Literacy Achievement: Research We Have, Research We Need, edited by Pressley et al.

    Writing Next: Effective Strategies to Improve Writing of Adolescents in Middle and High Schools, by Graham & Perin


    50 Content-Area Strategies For Adolescent Literacy, by Fisher et al.

    Creating Literacy-Rich Schools For Adolescents, by Ivey & Fisher

    Meeting Five Critical Challenges of High School Reform: Lessons from Research on Three Reform Models, by Quint

    The Next Chapter: A School Board Guide to Improving Adolescent Literacy, by the National School Boards Association

    Principled Practices for Adolescent Literacy: A Framework for Instruction and Policy, by Sturtevant et al.

    Reading Next: A Vision for Action and Research in Middle and High School Literacy (2nd ed.), by Biancarosa & Snow

    Reconceptualizing the Literacies in Adolescents’ Lives, by Alvermann et al.


    Reading at Risk: How States Can Respond to the Crisis in Adolescent Literacy, by the National Association of State Boards of Education

    Note: Full bibliographic information for these texts can be found in the References section of this review.

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    Spring 2008 Issue


    Why Adolescent Literacy Matters Now
    Jacy Ippolito, Jennifer L. Steele, and Jennifer F. Samson
    Adolescent Literacy
    Putting the Crisis in Context
    Vicki A. Jacobs
    Teaching Disciplinary Literacy to Adolescents
    Rethinking Content-Area Literacy
    Timothy Shanahan and Cynthia Shanahan
    Redefining Content-Area Literacy Teacher Education
    Finding My Voice through Collaboration
    Roni Jo Draper
    Cognitive Strategy Instruction for Adolescents
    What We Know about the Promise, What We Don’t Know about the Potential
    Mark W. Conley
    The Complex World of Adolescent Literacy
    Myths, Motivations, and Mysteries
    Elizabeth Birr Moje, Melanie Overby, Nicole Tysvaer, and Karen Morris
    Toward a More Anatomically Complete Model of Literacy Instruction
    A Focus on African American Male Adolescents and Texts
    Alfred W. Tatum
    Implementing a Structured Reading Program in an Afterschool Setting
    Problems and Potential Solutions
    Ardice Hartry, Robert Fitzgerald, and Kristie Porter
    State Literacy Plans
    Incorporating Adolescent Literacy
    Catherine Snow, Twakia Martin, and Ilene Berman
    Beyond Writing Next
    A Discussion of Writing Research and Instructional Uncertainty
    David Coker and William E. Lewis