In 2007, Commissioner Jones released “Forward Thinking” which laid out the Colorado Department of Education’s vision to develop a “consistent voice around literacy with which to address literacy challenges in Colorado and provide a foundation for focused support from CDE.” In support of that goal, the Colorado Literacy Alignment Project, under the guidance of Debora Scheffel, Special Assistant to the Commissioner, was established to create a statewide literacy framework.
In fall 2009, a comprehensive review of the literacy-related initiatives that CDE administers and supports was undertaken. That review resulted in identification of a group of phrases that represent beliefs, values and practices tied to the varied literacy work of CDE units.
CDE leadership and staff provided essential feedback through informal discussion, surveys, focus groups and interdepartmental meetings. Ultimately, the leadership developed a common core of statements that encapsulate shared values and beliefs about effective practices. A common voice emerged and CDE adopted this mission statement for literacy initiatives:
Literacy is the backbone of a democratic society and is the gateway to opportunity. Anchored in the most rigorous research available, CDE collaboratively leads, supports and extends effective practice in literacy for all learners. As stewards of the public trust, CDE embraces responsibility for educational excellence in partnership with our constituents, the residents of Colorado.
Ten days of on-site observations of P-12 schools, adult/family education centers and public libraries were conducted, during which interviews with administrators, teachers and staff provided helpful feedback. Their feedback contextualized how the effective practices translate to the field and provided additional insight into how a statewide literacy framework could support their work.
The guidance of literacy experts and practitioners also helped to inform the development of the literacy framework, ensuring that research-based best practices remained at the project’s core and that the framework was well-grounded in state and national contexts.
The confluence of these activities led to the development of the Colorado Literacy Framework. In keeping with CDE’s vision that “all children in Colorado will become educated and productive citizens,” the framework supports a multi-tiered instructional approach to closing achievement gaps among learning groups. The framework will be continuously informed by current research in the context of Colorado’s literacy goals.The Colorado Department of Education is committed to aligning its voice in literacy across units and departments, knowing that improved student literacy achievement is predicated on sound, unified, professional support for Colorado districts and schools.