Nationwide, and in the Philadelphia area, adolescents are underperforming on literacy assessments. By 11th grade, only 11 percent of Chester-Upland School District students and 37 percent of Philadelphia School District students score proficient in reading on required state tests. While students engage readily in social and media literacy, educators are struggling with how to re-engage adolescents in academic literacy.
Through her Emerging Leader Fellowship, Joslyn Young worked with Research for Action to conduct applied, qualitative research on two after-school programs where youth were engaged in multi-media literacy activities. The project focused on two sites: Chester Voices for Change and the Philadelphia Student Union. By investigating the out-of-school settings in which youth are motivated to engage in literacy activities, Joslyn was able to identify elements of the programs that might be transferable to an academic setting. She observed, interviewed, and worked directly with young people participating in these programs and assembled a literature review of alternative literacy resources—including videos, short papers, presentations, and resources—which were shared and distributed via a public web portal. Joslyn documented her findings in a report, presented them at the research two sites, and developed recommendations for educators and education advocates.