Get the Steps to Improve Literacy Instruction and Reading Scores District-Wide
In the ever-evolving landscape of education, district leaders play a pivotal role in boosting student achievement. One of the most pressing challenges they face is ensuring that teachers are equipped with the latest pedagogical tools and methodologies. Among these, the science of reading is top of mind, offering insights into what matters and what works in literacy instruction.
District leaders must not only champion literacy instruction backed by research but also help with large-scale implementation. By understanding the intricacies of the science of reading and promoting its integration with classroom best practices, leaders like you hold the key to unlocking a brighter future for students, where literacy is not just a skill but a gateway to a lifetime of learning.
5 Steps to Successfully Implement the Science of Reading in Your District
The science of reading has recently gained renewed traction in mainstream news. While it’s new to some, the science of reading refers to decades of interdisciplinary research on literacy. Its main contributors are educators, linguists, neuroscientists, and psychologists — and together they’ve reached solid conclusions about what students need to learn and how they need to learn it.
Today only 25% of training programs for elementary teachers adequately cover the research-proven components of reading instruction. So it’s time for district leaders to take action.
These 5 steps are designed to help district leaders successfully implement the science of reading district-wide.
Step 1. Understand the Science of Reading
To successfully implement the science of reading, district leaders need to understand it and its implications. Firsthand knowledge builds confidence and optimism about the outcome.
To start, attend a science of reading webinar or conference. Next, make time to read academic journals and anthologies that address the science of reading. And seek out real-life examples: visit districts that have already implemented this change successfully.
Step 2. Cultivate a Team of Experts
Once you have a solid understanding, you can implement the science of reading with fidelity and build a team of experts in your district. Equip this team with professional development opportunities to set them up for implementation success.
Since most elementary school teachers haven’t been taught how to use the science of reading during their instruction, this team of experts should facilitate training and help roll out research-based literacy instruction in a systematic way.
This ensures a district-wide understanding of how to properly use instructional resources based on the science of reading and sustainable effective instructional change.
Step 3. Audit Assessments
Effective literacy instruction based on the science of reading starts with unlocking key assessment data. The science of reading breaks down which skills to assess that are indicative of reading success. It emphasizes that assessments should be given frequently to allow for early intervention and ongoing progress monitoring.
District leaders should determine whether current assessment tools are systematically testing the foundations of literacy and whether these assessments are efficient and sufficiently frequent.
Research-based reading programs like Istation offer monthly formative assessments that screen students in 30 minutes or less in the five key areas of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The real-time results provided by these assessments give educators critical insights to determine what literacy instruction should come next to support literacy growth.
Step 4. Consider Curriculum Tools and Resources
Curriculum tools and resources should be checked as well. Is your district set up to instruct students in the five areas of literacy learning, from phonemic awareness to comprehension? In addition to having lesson plans that address each skill, teachers will need supplementary materials for certain students, such as mini lessons, worksheets, printable stories, and more. Materials should suit students at every level of learning so that everyone is appropriately challenged.
Istation provides equitable learning opportunities for all students with an online, supplemental curriculum that is explicit, systematic, and cumulative. The program tailors the instructional experience to each student’s individual needs while providing teachers with classroom resources to lead one-on-one and small-group interventions.
Step 5. Adapt Schedules
District leaders are well aware that some students will need more time to work on developing strong literacy skills. Unless school hours are extended, or students learn at home, this means taking time from other subjects. Pulling students from other classes for intervention may meet resistance, and it’s critical to get teachers’ input when planning. District leaders must emphasize that when students haven’t learned to read, they can’t read to learn in any subject area.
To learn more watch our on-demand webinar “Science of Reading Essentials: What Every District Leader Needs to Know.”