The Pennsylvania Literacy Framework focus on “Writing: Composing Text” (http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_123625_1247846_0_0_18/chapter%204.pdf) is informed by the work of NCTE and scholars in rhetoric and writing studies.
Here are some noteworthy excerpts:
- “If we believe that it is through writing that we make discoveries and synthesize new knowledge, then it is unlikely that a paper written without planning or revision will fulfill that potential. Since thinking is often “messy, tentative, and exploratory” (Lytle & Botel, 1988), the opportunity to take one’s time, try things out, and change one’s mind, makes for writing that is not only better expressed but often more thoughtful, more original, and much more enjoyable to read” (4.3-4.4).
- “The implication of the meaning-centered perspective on writing is that developing writers need, as often as possible, authentic occasions for writing—such as long-term inquiry projects (Short, 1996) and integrative units (Daniels & Bizar, 1999)—not only teacher-made or textbook prompts” (4.6).
- “Lytle and Botel argue, “as much as possible, classrooms need to provide opportunities for language in the wider social world.” This will require some modification of the forms of writing that seem to exist only in and for schools: for example, instead of the book report, experimenting with the book review; instead of the five paragraph theme, the op-ed essay; instead of the research paper, the informational brochure” (4.8).
- “Instead of attempting to eradicate errors—something which can be achieved only in the context of safe, bland writing—we need to see errors as, in the words of Lytle & Botel (1998), “efforts after meaning, evidence of some system or concept at work” (p. 14)” (4.12).
Chapter 7 of the Pennsylvania Literacy Framework draws upon the recommendations of the Joint Task Force on Assessment of the International Reading Association (IRA) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the Standards for the Assessment of Reading and Writing document (http://www.ncte.org/standards/assessmentstandards) and focuses on assessment. The chapter identifies five main components of a literacy curriculum, and emphasizes that these five components “are not discrete entities and must be seen as the overlapping, interacting, and dynamic aspects of all our educational efforts. Together they form a recursive process.” Specifically: “The goals and standards of a literacy program drive and are therefore informed by instruction. Together, these first two components comprise what is often referred to as a school district’s curriculum. Appropriate instruction always addresses the program’s goals and standards, and it determines the types of assessment that are used. Assessment should look like instruction, and actually, assessment may occur at any time during the instructional process. The tools and procedures employed to evaluate student learning are affected by the goals and standards being addressed, the instructional procedures that are provided, and the student data collected for assessment. The information reported to the various stakeholders in literacy education must accurately reflect in a meaningful way and in varying degrees of detail all of the other four curricular components if it is to have authentic value” (7.4).
How do these policy documents affect classroom practice?