National Council of Teachers of English

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The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is an American professional organization dedicated to "improving the teaching and learning of English and the language arts at all levels of education. Since 1911, NCTE has provided a forum for the profession, an array of opportunities for teachers to continue their professional growth throughout their careers, and a framework for cooperation to deal with issues that affect the teaching of English." In addition, the NCTE lists its mission as:

"The Council promotes the development of literacy, the use of language to construct personal and public worlds and to achieve full participation in society, through the learning and teaching of English and the related arts and sciences of language."

The NCTE is involved in publishing journals (College Composition and Communication and College English) and books that address the concerns of English language arts educators. Since the 1970s, it has issued annual Doublespeak Awards and Orwell Awards.


As stated on the official NCTE website, The National Council of Teachers of English was founded in 1911 by a group of educators in Chicago, Illinois, known as the English Round Table of the National Education Association.This group wanted to create a professional response to changing needs and values regarding education, particularly English language education. The impetus for this early effort was a concern that school curricula were becoming too narrow and were incapable of addressing the needs of an increasingly diverse student population. A special committee was formed to address these issues.Since this time the NCTE has provided a forum for English teaching professionals to continue their professional growth throughout their careers, in addition to providing a framework for cooperative action pertaining to issues that affect the instruction of English.

These concerned educators at first set themselves a limited task: to explore the problems arising from a rigid, narrowly defined approach to English language instruction. Soon, however, it became apparent that more was needed, and that only a national professional organization would have the ability to affect policy decisions. By 1919 the original investigatory committee had grown large enough to become such an organization. Because of its open-door policy regarding membership, the NCTE from the first maintained a divisional structure, with separate groups representing elementary, secondary, and postsecondary educators.

Over the next several decades the organization continued to grow. By 1948 it was clear that the simple divisions based on grade level were inadequate, and the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) was formed to address the special needs of communication and composition teachers at the college level. This reliance on committee organization proved to be extremely useful, for it permitted interested groups to concentrate their focus on particular issues or trends. Membership grew dramatically in the second half of the twentieth century, and over the years new committees were formed, leading to the five-conference structure in place at the beginning of the twenty-first century. A notable past president was Lou L. LaBrant in 1954 who lived to be 103 and taught for 70 years.[1][2]


NCTE offers its members opportunities to grow professionally by interacting with colleagues in all facets of English teaching. Individuals belong to any of four broad Sections of membership – Elementary,[3] Middle,[4] Secondary[5] or College.[6] They may also join other groups centered on various teaching specialties within English, each with its own journal, meetings, and projects. Major interest groups, called Conferences, serve teachers of college writing and rhetoric; teacher educators in higher education and in-service posts; teachers with an interest in whole language; and English department chairs, K-12 supervisors, and other English instruction leaders. Assemblies are informal special interest groups, ranging in focus from computers in English to research, which meet at NCTE conventions. Commissions monitor and report on trends and issues in the teaching of language, composition, literature, reading, and media. Nearly 50 committees and task forces carry out projects on issues and topics in the teaching of English, among them testing and evaluation, censorship, instructional technology, response to literature, teacher preparation and certification, and English in urban schools.

Strategic governance

In November 2003, the NCTE Executive Committee adopted a new model of policy-oriented style of governance for the Council. They have studied the meaning and ramifications of the following issues for the organization as a whole.[7]

Political activities

The NCTE is engaged in a variety of political issues affecting English Education and does so primarily through SLATE: Steering Committee on Social and Political Concerns. According to the NCTE website, SLATE attempts to "influence public attitudes and policy decisions affecting the teaching of English language arts at local, state, and national levels; to implement and publicize the policies adopted by NCTE. As part of its political action function, SLATE will serve as NCTE's intellectual freedom network."[8]


NCTE and Slate are involved in many political issues, some of which include:


The Education Reporter, the newspaper of the Eagle Forum, published an article entitled "English Standards Provoke Criticism".[12] The group criticized NCTE for publishing a set of "12 Standards" that 'do not direct educators to teach phonics, spelling, grammar, or punctuation, or provide any suggestions for reading lists.' The article includes information concerning the Department of Education, which initially gave $1 million to support the project but stopped their funding in March 1994. Additionally, The Eagle Forum scoffs at NCTE’s new definitions that were set into place, as well as their philosophy that supports non-conventional spelling, bilingual education, non-traditional English use, and multiculturalism. Some of the words with updated definitions include: Standard English, text, language, reading, and literacy. Furthermore, The Eagle Forum is also quoted in saying that, “despite an enormous commitment of time and federal money, the standards have so far had no discernible impact upon student learning.”

Present and future

The NCTE currently has a reported 35,000 members and subscribers in the United States and internationally. This membership is composed of teachers and supervisors of English programs ranging from elementary, middle, and secondary schools to faculty in college and university English departments as well as teacher educators, local and state agency English specialists, and other professionals in directly related fields. Sponsoring over 120 regional, state, provincial, local, and student affiliates within the United States, Canada, and Asian countries, the NCTE continues it rapid annual growth. [13]

See also


  1. Guthrie, James W. (2002). Encyclopedia of Education: IEA-Lowenfeld. Macmillan Publishers. Retrieved September 5, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Hunnicutt, Clarence William; Iverson, William J. (1958). Research in the three R's. Harper. Retrieved September 5, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Elementary Section". Retrieved 2014-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Welcome to the Middle Level Section of NCTE - your home in the middle!". Retrieved 2014-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "HIGH SCHOOL MATTERS: The Secondary Section". Retrieved 2014-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Welcome to the College Section". Retrieved 2014-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. [1][dead link]
  8. "NCTE/SLATE Steering Committee on Social and Political Concerns". Retrieved 2014-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. [2] Archived October 8, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  10. [3] Archived October 11, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  11. [4] Archived July 13, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  12. "June Education Reporter - English Standards Provoke Criticism". Retrieved 2014-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links