A bridge exists leading students to disciplinary or content area literacy . They call the link, effective professional development. In 2007, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) promoted literacy coaches as a way to provide professional development in school wide literacy campaigns (Kamil, 2003). The International Reading Association and other organizations joined together with the NCTE to determine the qualifications and responsibilities that would generally be required of coaches to create today’s standards (NCTE 2006). Insert standards for coaches.
The movement to put literacy coaches into secondary school settings is not primarily motivated by empirical research (Campbell and Sweiss, 2010). Instead, the move to place literacy coaches is a no-nonsense approach to improve literacy at the secondary level (Snow, Ippolito, and Schwartz, 2006, p. 36) “based on its convergence with theory and the wisdom of its practitioners.” Snow et al. agree that it would not be wise to delay the use of literacy coaches until research provides evidence of how effective this professional development delivery method has been.
Moje (2008) called for a change in the way disciplinary literacy took place at the secondary level. She questions the wide knowledge base that would be necessary for teacher educators to obtain when coaching disciplinary teachers how to incorporate literacy in the classroom. Moje and her colleagues (3rd space article) also ponder the difference between “content learning and content literacy learning”. How can a literacy coach, a “master teacher who provides essential leadership for the school’s overall literacy program” (Sturtevant, 2003, p.1) provide disciplinary or content area literacy instruction to his/her peers? Blarney, Meyer, and Walpole (2009) initiated one of the few studies regarding the leadership role of literacy coaches in American schools and found that the group, as a whole, has less confidence helping teachers of disciplines other than English/Language Arts employ literacy strategies in the classroom. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between effective professional development and student achievement in disciplinary literacy.
Fisher, Frey, and Lapp (2009) entered Western High School (pseudonym) aiming to raise Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) numbers in a failing school. Effective professional development opportunities provided to content area teachers made a significant difference within the two and a half years of study. A year long professional development study by Wilson, Graham, and Smetana (2009) investigated content area teachers understanding of how a literacy framework can enhance student achievement. Cantrell and Callaway (2008) studied the efficacy of content literacy instruction implemented in a year-long professional development program. Middle and high school teachers interviewed that time claim confidence in their ability to deliver content literacy...