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The Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Plan for MassachusettsGerri Fegan

Last October, I was asked by the Massachusetts DESE to serve as part of an expert panel that would review the draft of the new literacy plan for our state.  The working group that put together the first draft consisted of DESE literacy experts and outside literacy organizations, reading specialists, publishers, universities, early childcare specialists, and health professionals.  The group produced a thoughtful and proactive way to help our students “prepare for college, career, and citizenship.”

The Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grant, awarded to Massachusetts in the fall of 2010, asked the state (and other awardees) to prepare a statewide literacy plan for all children from birth to high school.  This differed from the previous statewide plan, not only in age requirements, but in the depth of the 21st century complex goals for literacy success.  The previous plan from 2005 needed to be revised to include the objectives set forth by the grant.

When the expert panel met in January to review the first draft, I found myself humbled to be in the presence of my educational heroes and to be representing Massachusetts school librarians.  It became evident that this team was comprised of all the stakeholders who are very active in student success.  I prepared by submitting our national standards and MSLA documents that demonstrate our unique purpose, objectives and commitment to the service of students and was grateful to see that other members of the panel agreed that school librarians play an important role in student academic success. 

We reviewed the efforts of the working group and made bold statements in terms of the accomplishments that we felt need to be made in the next ten years.  While I can’t divulge specifics about the document because it has been submitted to Washington for approval, I can say that I am thrilled that the whole child aspects of the plan are strong and vibrant.  From medical aspects of a child’s early development to the standardized tests that will evolve to place students in the careers of their choice, the plan is all-inclusive.  The opportunities for school and public librarians to work together to promote new literacies, to incorporate the Common Core into enrichment, and to collaborate on the same academic goals for students through free access to all information and literature are some of the ways we hope to see substantial improvement. 

Massachusetts has seen substantial success in many literacy programs, including the establishment of the Center for Curriculum and Instruction. Working with the Center could very well be the key for school librarians to infuse the critical skills we teach into assessments and curriculum, and demonstrate the versatility of our unique positions in our schools as conduits from classroom to real world learning, from the physical library shelf to the worldwide web.  Massachusetts has taken many steps this year to bring school librarians into working groups, committees and planning sessions.  As I step down from my presidency in May, I have been proud to represent Massachusetts school librarians and encourage all of you to step up to the plate when the DESE calls. 

As of this writing, the President’s budget has cut the funds for this project.  I am hopeful that this will be reinstated.  So much work, so much promise, and such devotion to our children is a light in the dark.

Gerri Fegan

President, MSLA


Last Updated ( Tuesday, 01 March 2011 )

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