Learned Awarded Spencer Foundation Grant to Study Youth Readers

Albany, NY (September 20, 2017) – Julie Learned, Educational Theory and Practice, was awarded a Spencer Foundation Grant for her project, A Study of Youth Readers across the Contexts of Secondary School.

Dr. Julie Learned

Youth readers navigate different classrooms, disciplinary domains, teachers, peers, and texts. Research suggests that through these ever-shifting contexts, youths demonstrate varying literacy skills and identities. Yet schools assign static labels to students (e.g., struggling reader). Little research has examined how different classroom or institutional contexts (e.g., state oversight) mediate youths’ reading. In this project, Learned will shadow eleventh graders assigned different reading labels across classes in a culturally and linguistically diverse school, which entered receivership with the state for not demonstrating adequate student achievement gains. Building on analyses from a pilot study in this site —made possible by UAlbany’s Faculty Research Awards Program—and a study of “struggling” readers, Learned will investigate how multifaceted contexts mediate youths’ reading and how young people as literate beings construct and resist school contexts.

Findings from Learned’s work will inform the needed reconceptualization of adolescent reading proficiency and difficulty, explicate the dynamic construction of secondary readers, and facilitate the creation of productive, just contexts for secondary literacy.