2010 NCTE Annual Convention in Orlando, Florida
The National Council of Teachers of English, the professional home for English educators since 1911, has been on the front lines advocating for curriculum development and implementation that reflects a solid basis in pedagogy, theory, and best practice. With the continuation of high-stakes testing and resulting legislation that dictates particular programs and practices attached to school funding, more and more constraints are being placed on teachers, on curricula, and on classroom practices. Despite the research that demonstrates the failure of many mandated programs and initiatives, such as Reading First, many school districts and educators are mandated to implement and adhere to prescriptive programs and teaching methods and inauthentic forms of assessment.
The development and adoption of the Common Core State Standards and its inclusion of exemplar texts heightens the concern that the authority of teachers as professionals who make decisions regarding materials and practices in literacy education will be diminished.
NCTE has acted over the years to recognize teachers as professional decision makers. For example, NCTE’s “Features of Literacy Programs: A Decision-Making Matrix” (2005) offers guidelines for structuring critical conversations as part of the informed decision-making process. NCTE has also promoted effective literacy practices and authentic assessment. Past NCTE resolutions and policies, which are informed by professional research and theory (e.g., “On the Reading First Initiative,” 2002), clearly outline concerns about the development of national policy that results in mandates at the state, district, and local school levels. Be it therefore
Resolved that the National Council of Teachers of English
reaffirm the rights of teachers and their students to draw from many diverse and dynamic sources – not only a list of exemplar texts – in the selection of classroom texts and materials;
continue to endorse a school curriculum that honors cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, language variety, and the interests and needs of the individual student; and
continue to support and advocate for the inclusion of teachers at all levels of educational decision making.