Dear NLP Friends and Supporters,
We embark on our eighth year in the classroom with the wind at our back and a world of opportunity before us.
We’ve now reached more than 21,500 students in well over 100 schools in New York City, Chicago, the Washington, D.C., area and Houston. Our Spotlight feature highlights new student assessment data that reflect our dramatic impact.
Our profile of Carlos McKnight illustrates the transformational role that NLP is playing with students. Carlos, who graduated in June from Thurgood Marshall Academy in Washington, is off to college and a bright future armed with the news literacy skills that he learned in high school.
Our video is one of our open-access digital unit lessons. We’ve reached most of our students to date with various versions of this unit, which educators will be able to access at no cost through our website this fall. Our digital program for schools will be replaced in early 2016 by the exciting CHECKOLOGY™ e-learning platform, which we’re designing as our prime path to national scale.
Finally, we’re pleased to announce three grants to support NLP’s programs in the Washington area and CHECKOLOGY™ pilots nationally. We’ve also received a great outpouring of donations to the John S. Carroll Memorial Fund in honor of our late chairman.
As always, thank you for your interest — and for your support, which makes our progress possible and our prospects so promising.
All the best,
Alan C. Miller
Check out NLP's interactive video lesson on the limits on school speech, which takes students through four Supreme Court precedents (the video requires Adobe Flash Player).
NLP in the News
Peter Adams, NLP's senior vice president for educational programs, discussed the importance of news literacy and skeptical habits of mind play for today's information consumers last week on the Big Picture Science public radio show and podcast. You can listen to Peter's segment here.
E-learning, Partnerships, New Grants and Memorial Fund
For the past three years, NLP has offered a digital unit to our partner schools in our major markets. This fall, through our website, we are making an open-access digital unit available to teachers and students everywhere. These core online lessons can be combined with our Learn Channel lessons to create units tailored to specific classroom needs.
As part of the National Community and News Literacy Roundtables project, Wally Dean, an ASNE consultant and media trainer, leads a discussion at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism on the media's role in pedestrian safety and traffic policy in New York City. Photo by Elis Estrada
We’re also proceeding with the design of our cutting-edge CHECKOLOGY™ e-learning platform, which will replace the digital unit that we released in 2013. Look for the launch of the new platform in early 2016.
NLP is partnering with the American Society of News Editors and the American Press Institute to produce a series of National Community and News Literacy Roundtables. An Aug. 13 roundtable at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism focused on pedestrian safety and traffic policy in New York City.
Mic, an online news outlet focusing on millennials, is NLP’s 31st participating news organization and seventh digital-first partner.
We’re also pleased to announce three new grants. The Dow Jones Foundation has awarded NLP $50,000 to pilot the CHECKOLOGY™ platform in 2016 in underresourced schools in New York City, Chicago, the Washington, D.C., area, Houston and Los Angeles. This is the second such grant from Dow Jones.
NLP received a renewal of a $35,000 grant from The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation to support the Washington, D.C., regional program in 2015-16. This will be the fourth year that the Cafritz Foundation has supported the project.
The Kiwanis Club of Washington, D.C., has awarded NLP $15,000 to support a classroom program and CHECKOLOGY™ pilots in schools in the District of Columbia. This is the second year that Kiwanis has supported NLP in D.C.
Finally, we have received 86 donations totaling $25,543 for the John S. Carroll Memorial Fund to honor NLP’s former board chairman, who passed away in June. The funds will support both classroom program and the CHECKOLOGY™ e-learning pilots for students in underserved communities across the country. Donations can be made here.
NLP Model Can be Successfully Sustained and Replicated, Data Show
|Students who participated in NLP’s programs last year said that they were more likely to take some type of civic action as a result of what they learned in the curriculum.
Newly compiled data from the 2014-15 school year indicate that the News Literacy Project’s model is successful, sustainable and replicable.
NLP’s curriculum consistently produces strong gains in students’ knowledge and prompts them to change the way they think about and act on news and information, according to surveys of students who have participated in NLP digital and classroom units.
The data also suggest that NLP’s method of teaching news literacy can be widely replicated in schools across the country.
The findings mark significant milestones in NLP’s seven-year history as it prepares to launch a redesign of its digital program to schools nationwide early next year. They are based on pre- and post-unit surveys of students’ attitudes, knowledge and behavior and were collected and analyzed by Anita M. Baker, NLP’s independent evaluation consultant.
“I am impressed with the high caliber of results across the board,” Baker said. “That's no small accomplishment. They reflect an undeniable level of skill-building.”
Results from the 2014-15 school year showed that 80 percent of the students who were enrolled in NLP’s digital programs and completed the surveys said that they were better able to evaluate news and information as a result of the unit and that what they learned from NLP was valuable.
The findings also showed that a substantial proportion of students reported noteworthy increases in:
- Their frequency reading a newspaper online or in print
- Their knowledge and appreciation of the First Amendment
- Their belief that a free press is important
NLP’s classroom program produced similar results during the past school year. More than 80 percent of participants in the assessment surveys said they learned:
- How to gather, produce and use credible information
- How to seek out news that makes them knowledgeable about their communities, the nation and the world
- To approach information found on the Internet with skepticism
This year, two new factors were included in the evaluation reporting. The results include Houston, NLP’s first pilot program outside its initial major markets since 2009. Baker also compiled the results nationally over a three-year period (the 2012-13 school year through the 2014-15 school year).
The Houston program produced strikingly similar results to those in the more established regions.
“NLP is able to take a fairly complex strategy, implement it into a public school where no relationships have been established before, and the results look similar to locations that have been using the program for five or six years,” Baker said. “It’s impressive that the project can do this.”
The over-years data show both consistency over time and gains from one school year to the next.
Baker’s message to NLP? “Don't change what you're doing,” she said, “because it certainly seems to work."
Learn more about the results of NLP’s 2014-15 evaluation and the three-year assessments.
Carlos McKnight: Making Connections and Thinking Critically
|Gwen Ifill of “PBS NewsHour” and “Washington Week in Review” joins NLP students (from left) Carlos McKnight, Margaret Sella and Stewart Gray at the national conference of the Council on Foundations. Photo by Council on Foundations
On a sunny Friday morning in June, Carlos McKnight was startled when he checked his Twitter feed.
“You are a true definition of what it means to actively engage in our democratic society,” read a tweet from @TMAtalks, the account of the high school from which Carlos had graduated just two weeks earlier. Attached was a photo of Carlos on the steps of the Supreme Court, shot hours earlier by an Associated Press photographer.
“Where did you find it?” Carlos messaged back. “It’s everywhere!” @TMAtalks replied.
Indeed, by the end of the day, the image of Carlos — clad in white T-shirt and baseball cap, waving a rainbow flag and holding a “Love Can’t Wait” sign while the sun peeked over the iconic court building — was featured by news organizations around the world, including Time magazine, CNN and Bloomberg. The striking photo appeared alongside articles about the court’s historic 5-4 ruling that same-sex couples had the right to marry.
“Well, it shows how rapidly news travels,” Carlos mused recently, reflecting on the connection between the viral photograph and his News Literacy Project lessons at Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School in Washington, D.C. His media literacy class was the first in the school to partner with NLP.
Carlos recalls numerous moments from the class that he took as a sophomore, including sessions with reporters Tracie Potts of NBC News and Pierre Thomas of ABC News, who impressed him with an understanding of what it takes to be a journalist — or, as Carlos put it, “how to suppress your own opinion to give news factually and without bias.”
|NLP President Alan Miller presents Carlos McKnight with a framed print of the Associated Press photo of Carlos on the steps of the Supreme Court at an NLP dinner in July. Photo by Elis Estrada
CNN producer Brian Rokus was a guest as well, sharing multiple script drafts and revisions of a documentary he produced. That lesson, said Carlos, informed his own work when he created a short documentary for a class assignment in 2013. He interviewed teachers at his school and others about their attitudes toward the media and bias; he even ventured into the halls of the nearby Capitol, where he posed a few on-camera questions to Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).
Learning how to distinguish between news and opinion and writing objectively or subjectively “taught me how to be a critical thinker and less gullible about news,” Carlos said.
For the past three years, Carlos has remained engaged with NLP.
At NLP public forums held at Georgetown and George Washington universities in 2012 and 2013, he assisted behind the scenes before posing thoughtful questions to the panels of prominent journalists.
In 2014, he joined five other students who had completed NLP units for a panel discussion moderated by NLP board member Gwen Ifill before an audience of more than 1,000 at the plenary session of the national conference of the Council on Foundations in Washington.
Soon after, he became a member of NLP’s youth advisory committee. In June, he eloquently described the importance of news literacy at an NLP VIP breakfast featuring Gerald Seib, the Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau chief.
Carlos also appears in the NLP video “News Literacy Is.”
Following a summer internship at the State Department, Carlos will enroll next month at Daemen College in Buffalo, New York, where he plans to major in political science.
He’ll be taking his news literacy lessons with him.