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University of Connecticut Neag School of Education ORCA


Leu, D.J., Forzani, E., Rhoads, C., Maykel, C., Kennedy, C., & Timbrell, N. (2015). The new literacies of online research and comprehension: Rethinking the reading achievement gap. Reading Research Quarterly, 50(1), 37-59. Newark, DE: International Reading Association. doi: 10.1002/rrq.85. Download for personal use only. ( )

Is there an achievement gap for online reading ability based on income inequality that is separate from the achievement gap in traditional, offline reading? This possibility was examined between students in two pseudonymous school districts: West Town (economically advantaged) and East Town (economically challenged; N = 256). Performance-based assessments were used within a simulation of the Internet developed as part of a larger project. A significant gap persisted for online research and comprehension after we conditioned on pretest differences in offline reading, offline writing, and prior knowledge scores. These results suggest that a separate and independent achievement gap existed for online reading, based on income inequality. Current estimates of this gap, which rely solely on measures of offline reading, may underrepresent the true nature of the U.S. reading achievement gap in an online age.

Leu, D.J., Zawilinski, L., Forzani, E., & Timbrell, N. (2014). Best practices in new literacies and the new literacies of online research and comprehension. In Morrow, L.M. & Gambrell, L. B. (Eds.) Best practices in literacy instruction. 5th Edition. New York: Guilford Press. Download for personal use only. [PDF]

This chapter defines a dual-level theory of New Literacies, useful to guide instruction, especially in the New Literacies of online research and instruction. It explains how we should interpret the Common Core State Standards in reading with both a lens to the future and a lens to the past, integrating instruction in the new literacies of online research and comprehension with traditional reading comprehension. It also provides 10 research-based principles that inform instruction in New Literacies and provide two specific ideas to implement each principle in the classroom. It concludes by providing a glimpse into what New Literacies classrooms may be like in the future.

Leu, D. J., Forzani, E., Burlingame, C., Kulikowich, J., Sedransk, N., Coiro, J., Kennedy, C. (2013). The new literacies of online research and comprehension: Assessing and preparing students for the 21st century with common core state standards. In Neuman, S. B. & Gambrell, L.B. (Eds.), Massey, C. (Assoc. Ed.) Reading instruction in the age of common core standards, 219-236. International Reading Association: Newark, DE. Wiley-Blackwell. Download for personal use only. [PDF]

This chapter explains why the Common Core Standards (CCSS) have appeared and why the digital literacies of online research and comprehension are emphasized within the CCSS. It also shares innovative assessments that evaluate students’ abilities to conduct research online and write a short report. Finally, it explores how we might think about evaluating students’ abilities with online research and comprehension in ways to inform instruction.

Leu, D. J., Kinzer, C. K., Coiro, J., Castek, J., Henry, L. A. (2013). New literacies: A dual level theory of the changing nature of literacy, instruction, and assessment. In Alvermann, D.E., Unrau, N.J., & Ruddell, R.B. (Eds.). (2013). Theoretical models and processes of reading (6th ed.). (pp. 1150-1181). Newark, DE: International Reading Association. Available at:

How can we possibly develop adequate theory when the object that we seek to study is itself ephemeral, continuously being redefined by a changing context? This is an important theoretical challenge that our field has not previously faced. The purpose of this chapter is to advance theory in a world where literacy has become deictic. It suggests that a dual-level theory of New Literacies is a useful approach to theory building in a world where the nature of literacy continuously changes. 


Leu, D. J., Forzani, E., Kennedy, C. (2013). Providing classroom leadership in new literacies: Preparing students for their future. In Shelley B. Wepner, Dorothy S. Strickland, and Diana Quatroche, Editors. The Administration and Supervision of Reading Programs, 5th edition. New York: Teachers College Press. (5th), 30pp. Teachers College Press. Download for personal use only. [PDF]

Continuously new literacies pose a fundamental challenge for literacy educators -- the reading and writing skills our students require tomorrow will include ones that we do not know about today. This chapter explores this dilemma and proposes ten principles to enact in your classroom to inform an instructional response.

Coiro, J. & Castek, J. (2010). Assessment frameworks for teaching and learning English language arts in a digital age. In D. Lapp & D. Fisher (Eds.), The Handbook of Research on Teaching The English Language Arts, Third Edition (pp. 314–321). International Reading Association and The National Council of Teachers of English. New York, NY: Routledge. [Google Books]

This handbook chapter highlights research that suggests the Internet is reshaping reading, writing, and communication and sparking a transformation in the ways we teach and assess literacy and language arts. It is structured around the notion that educational assessments should draw on principles of evidence-centered design (National Research Council, 2001) to answer three essential questions: (1) What evidence is needed to represent proficiency in online literacy and language arts? (2) What situations or tasks can elicit such evidence? and (3) How can this evidence be interpreted in meaningful ways?

Leu, D. J., O’Byrne, W. I., Zawilinski, L., McVerry, J. G., & Everett-Cacopardo, H. (2009). Expanding the new literacies conversation. Educational Researcher, 38(4), 264–269. doi:10.3102/0013189X09336676

In this article, the authors suggest that continuous, not dichotomous, change in the technologies of literacy and learning defines the Internet. They argue that a dual-level theory of New Literacies is a productive way to conceptualize this continuous change, especially for education. They describe uppercase (New Literacies) and lowercase (new literacies) theories, using the new literacies of online reading comprehension to illustrate the process. They suggest this approach is likely to lead to greater equity, understanding, and acceptance of continuously new technologies within educational systems.

Coiro, J. (2009). Rethinking online reading assessment: How is reading comprehension different and where do we turn now. Educational Leadership, 66, 59–63. [ASCD Website]

This article summarizes preliminary evidence of five ways that reading comprehension on the Internet differs from traditional reading comprehension and offer ideas for how teachers might expand their reading assessment practices to capture the skills and strategies students need to comprehend information in a digital age.

Leu, D. J., Jr., Coiro, J., Castek, J., Hartman, D. K., Henry, L. A., & Reinking, D. (2008). Research on instruction and assessment of the new literacies of online reading comprehension. In C. C. Block, S. Parris, and P. Afflerbach, (Eds.), Comprehension instruction: Research-based best practices. (pp. 321–346). New York: Guilford Press. [Google Books]

This chapter summarizes work conducted under a previous federally funded research grant that sought to characterize the nature of online reading comprehension and how to develop instruction and assessment practices that support the use of online reading strategies. One result of this work was the set of online reading skills and strategies that students should be working toward during the three phases of Internet Reciprocal Teaching – you can find these in checklist form at the end of this chapter. This set of online reading strategies directly informed the development of the tasks and rubrics associated with the Online Reading Comprehension Assessments featured in the current ORCA Project.