STEL professor working to improve standards for literacy educators
Radford University School of Teacher Education and Leadership (STEL) Professor Jennifer Jones Powell was among a group of literacy professionals who worked with the International Literacy Association (ILA) to update its standards.
Jones Powell was part of a team of 28 literacy experts who drafted updated standards that describe characteristics of effective literacy professional preparation programs. In doing so, the group integrated research-based practices, professional wisdom and feedback from stakeholders made during public comment periods.
Jones Powell worked on the Assessment and Evaluation strand of standards, in which her team updated standards for various literacy leadership roles, including elementary and secondary classroom teacher, literacy specialist/literacy coach, and other roles. In addition, she worked with a team to draft standards for administrators.
“It was meaningful for me to be a part of this work because these standards fuel the work that is done to prepare literacy professionals across our nation,” Jones Powell said. “Schools and higher education institutions use these standards as a blueprint for preparing literacy professionals.”
The ILA’s standards, updated last in 2010, reflect the association’s expanded definition of literacy beyond reading and promote a “broader repertoire of skills,” the association said, which can be achieved through more vigorous field work and digital learning and equity-building practices, to ensure all literacy professionals “are prepared to meet the demands of 21st-century literacy instruction.”
The collaboration “examined the present roles of literacy professionals, our research and practice, and also looked into the future in regard to literacy professionals and their knowledge, roles and responsibilities,” Jones Powell said. “It is exciting to see where our field has been and where it is going.”
The professor is happy, she said, that Radford University was represented on the authorship team, “as we work to cultivate cutting-edge literacy leaders in all our education programs at the undergraduate level and in the Literacy Education program at the graduate level.”
Jones Powell teaches undergraduate and graduate courses at Radford University. Her courses focus on research-based ways to assess, teach and support the teaching of reading in the K-12 academic setting. She has specific interests in literacy assessment and intervention within a Response-to-Intervention framework, as well as in the clinical setting; reading comprehension; and effective, ongoing professional development.
Jones Powell has published articles in such venues as The Reading Teacher, Reading Research Quarterly, and Science and Children. She has co-authored two books, as well as invited chapters for various books.
The STEL professor has served on the board of the Literacy Research Association (LRA) as field council chair and currently serves as the chair of the Albert J. Kingston Committee for LRA.
She has served as president of the Virginia College Reading Educators (VCRE), president of the Virginia State Reading Association (VSRA), and in the Roanoke Valley Reading Association board of directors. Jones Powell served as editor of Reading in Virginia, Journal of the Virginia State Reading Association, and as editor of Educational Practice & Reform, the College of Education and Human Development’s online journal at Radford University.
A former third and fourth grade teacher, Jones Powell has served as a literacy consultant in various school systems, grades K-12, with a focus on word study, as well as comprehension instruction.
Jones Powell was the recipient of a 2015 Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award, given by the State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV). The award is the Commonwealth's highest honor for educators in Virginia's public and private colleges and universities.