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5 Hidden Gems for Teaching Reading in Schools

In early literacy, there is a growing body of evidence which outlines the best way to teach young children how to read. 

Sprig Learning has covered these topics previously, such as highlighting the need for focused professional development, supporting existing roles such as principals, literacy coaches, and primary teachers, taking on projects aimed at alleviating literacy inequity, and dissecting evidence-based trends that are delivering results.

Furthermore, Sprig has covered the academic return on investment angle to achieving higher literacy scores, advised on the implementation of strategic reading instruction, and discussed the ideal cost-effective early reading intervention. 

The linked articles above should provide plenty of reading material for anyone looking to understand the drivers of early literacy success and managing all aspects of policies, resources and systems that go into raising literacy scores for prekindergarten, kindergarten and elementary school children. 

However, there is more information to process when it comes to teaching reading in schools and early learning centers. 

 

More Gems for Teaching Reading and Developing Early Literacy

More Gems for Teaching Reading and Developing Early Literacy

In Sprig’s research thus far, there have been advice and case studies that fell outside the purview of previously written articles. These bits of wisdom deserve to be highlighted however, as they have shown to be just as successful in closing the early literacy gap. 

When these five gems of recommendations listed below were followed, schools and early learning centers were successfully able to surpass student language and literacy learning indicators targets.

 

1. Pinpoint Problem Areas in the Early Literacy Journey

Carmen Alvarez, Director of Early Childhood Learning in the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District in Texas, vouches for the ability to see where a student needs help, rather than just understanding if they are progressing or not. 

In her words “the ability for teachers to see the exact sounds a student is struggling with, and know which concepts students have mastered” are advantageous in teaching reading. 

It’s one thing to pass students along based on if they have met certain reading qualification criteria. It’s another approach to specifically zero in on certain difficulties that could hamper reading proficiency in the future. 

 

2. Integrated Reading Instruction for Holistic Reading Development

Dr. Gina Cervetti is an associate professor of Literacy, Language, and Culture at University of Michigan’s School of Education. She says that in the early years, “reading instruction needs to be integrated”. 

Learning the code of written language is critical, which deals with phonics and phonological awareness. Enriching conversations to develop student’s oral language and vocabulary is also critical in this equation for literacy success. 

This is not to be confused with a balanced approach. According to the evidence, alphabet knowledge and phonics instruction should be direct and systematic and inclusive for the whole classroom. But alongside these practices, there should also be enough conversations and reading sessions to help practice the reading concepts that are being taught.

 

3. Specifically Devise Strategies for Those Student Groups Who Need Extra Support

Strategic reading instruction should involve regular assessments, systematic instruction, and appropriate interventions for the whole classroom, so the right support can be assigned to students who should be in a different tier of support all together. 

Taking this bottom-up approach to instructional coverage ensures that every student receives an education that is of a high caliber, before being designated to another tier. 

Being assigned to another tier without receiving an evidence-based high-quality education can sometimes be at the detriment of other students, who need those same resources more.

 Sometimes however, a certain case may warrant devising a specific strategy for dealing with a certain group of students who are disadvantaged to begin with. This could be dyslexic students, or English Learner (EL) students.

Waltham Public Schools’s EL students grew to almost one fifth of the of the student body, which was twice the state average. These students fell behind their peers on foundational literacy measures and English and language arts assessments. 

To address the issues Waltham established a new elementary school to establish a language immersion program, used funds to invest in a literacy professional development program for dual language program’s teachers, and created a  summer program for the students. 

 

4. Use a Co-Teaching Arrangement to Provide Greater Supports

Three districts in northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts, made the decision to collaborate in order to strengthen inclusive practices for kids in grades PK–2 through a special education audit and professional development. 

A co-teaching approach was put into place where an occupational therapist was pushed into preschool and kindergarten classes to assist any students who needed it. 

Push-in versus pull-out strategies for differentiated instruction have their own merits, but there is no doubt that push-in strategies are more inclusive.

Push-in strategies deem the early literacy recovery or acceleration efforts serious enough, where they want the presence of both the homeroom teacher and the other specialist professional inside the classroom. These types of strategies want every student to benefit from a situation where these professionals co-teach with homeroom teachers in the classroom.

 

5. Differentiate Instructional Strategy Based on Parent Participation

Active parental involvement is an indicator of early literacy success. Passive participation is when the school has to prompt the parent to contribute or engage in their child’s learning process. Active participation is when the parents collaborate with the teacher and the school by themselves, before being told to. 

It’s great if parents have a way to see what is being taught, or receive insights into the learning strengths and weaknesses of their child, so they can offer help at home accordingly.  But beyond active participation, what ends up happening at home is also important for teachers to know so they can take necessary measures.

For example, the Conejo Valley Neighborhood for Learning Early Childhood Program in Ventura County, California, said they would reinforce the importance of daily reading. But soon they discovered that some parents had limited access to books. 

Upon learning this information, they “developed tips on how to use the same book repeatedly”. This specialized information was provided to those parents who needed this support. 

 

The Best Way to Teach Reading in Schools

Best way to teach reading

Along with the information covered in prior articles, Sprig hopes these 5 gems help schools and early learning centers to improve early literacy skills in students. 

The best way to teach reading will ultimately depend on the situation at the said school, but seeing what has worked in other places is always good for drawing inspiration, tweaking current strategies, or implementing new ideas. 

If you want more content on early literacy, be sure to check out the Sprig blog. We write blogs every week focusing on early reading instruction for both educators and administrators. Please consider joining our newsletter where you will be updated twice a month on the latest blogs, exclusive news from early learning and company updates.

A free trial of Sprig Reading is now available to all. It was developed accounting for many of the best practices teachers were using in the classroom to achieve up to 95% literacy at each grade level. 

With Sprig Reading, instructors can quickly learn how to assess what children already know and what they still need to learn in order to help them develop into strong and independent readers.

Sprig Reading offers student-centered, classroom-tested instructional and assessment strategies to improve the reading ability of every child. 

Both trial and subscription options are on the Sprig Reading page. 

Why Guided Play-based Learning in Early Literacy?

Play-based learning is an approach to learning that maintains a child’s enjoyment of either free play or guided play while engaging with learning content. 

Free play is purely initiated and driven by the student, while guided play has some degree of teacher involvement.

In early literacy, play-based learning is proven to have a significantly positive effect on narrative language ability and grammar. 

Play-based learning with teacher guidance has been shown to raise phonemic awareness and phonics skills in kindergarteners. 

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that when literacy materials and teacher involvement are added to play-based learning, language skills improve significantly. 

With such a strong association between guided play-based learning and the advancement of early literacy skills, it’s worthwhile to explore the benefits of play-based learning, its examples and the extent of teacher involvement that constitute it. 

Play-based learning is one approach to differentiate learning— something Sprig has covered in a previous article showing how differentiated learning supports all other forms of learning

Indeed some children may display a greater preference for play. 

But by itself, play-based learning as a strategy for the whole classroom is a great way to improve early literacy scores.

Play-based learning supports early literacy development in multiple ways.

 

Benefits of Play-based Learning. How it Supports Early Literacy.

Benefits of Play-based Learning. How it Supports Early Literacy.

 

Directly Impacts Language and Reading Acquisition

Play-based learning enhances children’s literacy and language development. It allows children a chance to both learn and practice their newly acquired skills. 

Children are able to connect oral and textual modes of communication as they learn about  the structure and meaning of new words.

 

Drives Cognitive and Social Development which Moderates Language Development

Play-based learning engages all of early learners’ senses. It allows them to express their thoughts and feelings, investigate their surroundings, and make connections between what they already know and new information and abilities. Such cognition ability is helpful in learning how to read. 

As early learners playfully express themselves to their classmates and teachers, they bring their language, traditions, and culture into the classroom. Such healthy social development aids reading ability. 

 

Builds Learning Language Positivity

Just as there is a concept called positive identity as a math learner, the same concept carries over to language. A growth mindset is required to develop the confidence to improve reading skills. 

Including play in learning activities fosters a love of learning languages in kids. Children are more likely to learn and explore new literacy topics when they appreciate their learning environment. Including play in the classroom improves memory and new information retention — important factors in learning how to read. 

 

Provides Deep Understanding of the Required Components of Reading

Play-based learning evokes many other types of learning, such as inquiry-based learning, problem-solving, curiosity-based learning, etc. Working on all of these different types of learning is great for clarifying knowledge structures that ultimately lead to a deep understanding of language. 

Decoding words and understanding language are crucial for reading comprehension. A deep understanding of both processes can be grasped by direction instruction and play-based practice.

 

Examples of Play-based Learning

Examples of Play-based Learning

Examples of play-based learning need not be newly introduced to any early childhood or primary educator out there. They are so common in fact, that when listing them, one immediately recognizes their place in the classroom. 

Role-playing, drawing, using playdough, blocks and puzzles for learning activities, dancing and singing, are all considered to be a part of play-based learning. 

However, more so than just knowing these play-based activities, it’s important to understand how to engage in these activities. The next section describes what play-based learning looks like in action. 

 

Characteristics of Guided Play. Continuum of Student-driven and Teacher-led Play-based Learning.

Characteristics of Guided Play. Continuum of Student-driven and Teacher-led Play-based Learning

Guided play was distinguished from free play at the opening of this article, to demonstrate how effective play-based learning was when it had some level of involvement from the teacher, either as an organizer, observer or planner. 

But guided play should include some free play inside its structure in order for it to be truly classified as play-based learning.  

Dr. Angela Pyle, an early childhood education researcher from the University of Toronto says that guided play “starts with free play driven by the children and their imaginations, and ends with direct instruction, which is completely driven by the teacher.”

 

Guided play can be thought of as both student and teacher initiated. 

A child can initiate play by starting to play with an object. The teacher can then use the opportunity to teach literacy skills such as building vocabulary around the items that the child is curious about. 

But if the teacher creates centers in the classroom that are specifically made for play, then this whole process can be thought of as teacher initiated. 

High-quality classrooms use hands-on activities that are carefully planned by the teachers. The teacher can teach a child how to learn, instead of just what to learn. 

  Purposeful play experiences can be designed by teachers to create richer learning experiences that are better remembered and internalized by early learners. 

 

Guided play experiences are directed by the child and facilitated by the teacher. 

The ratio of direction and facilitation can be adjusted to ensure that the lesson plans are being met. 

It is chosen by the student, but teachers plan, observe and guide the whole experience. This type of educational experience is self-chosen by the student, but it is sufficiently process oriented. 

 

What Sprig Does with Play-based Learning

What Sprig Does with Play-based Learning

This article barely scratches the surface when it comes to the wonders of play-based learning! 

Primarily, it’s important to establish the specific link between play and early literacy. When this bond is understood however, there are many play-based strategies that can be explored. Some of them are codified in the Sprig Reading App, an interactive tool for Pre-K to Grade 2 teachers to implement evidence-based reading instruction.

To systematically instruct and practice hundreds of essential early literacy skills, a healthy amount of play is required in the classroom. Many actionable tips are showcased in the teacher training modules that are contained within Sprig Reading. 

The teacher has great responsibility in choosing the type of play-based activities and controlling their level of involvement to ensure that their students reap maximum benefits from guided play-based learning. 

For every foundational reading skillset, there are playbooks designed by former educators and researchers that have a demonstrable impact on improving those very skillsets. 

If done well, the play-based learning approach fosters the interest and curiosity of the students  through exchanges that are meant to challenge the students’ thinking.

Children who co-construct their early reading experience with classmates, apply what they learn to real-world situations and make significant discoveries while they work towards learning objectives.

For early literacy, this amounts to playing with word and language concepts to sufficiently develop the right skill sets in order to start reading. 

Need for Professional Development in Strategic Reading Instruction

Despite $18 billion spent each year on professional development (PD) in schools across the United States, the lack of satisfactory PD and training in the primary grades continues to be a recurrent theme in early learning. It was identified as one of the 5 major early learning challenges faced by schools, along with the lack of time, lack of pay, resource shortage, and learning loss. 

It’s not enough to have more and more PD. PD should be goal-oriented and improved upon annually to meet the demands of educators. Particularly at a time when there is a call for more evidence-based practices to be taught in teacher training programs and implemented in classrooms, PD needs to be strategic. 

When done right, PD can be a tool for strategic reading instruction. 

It can consolidate and further advance the learning gained from teacher preparatory programs on evidence-based instruction. 

Furthermore, it can introduce these concepts to teachers who have not heard of them before. 

Most importantly, it can provide practical and actionable guidance to teachers by which they can improve reading proficiency for their students. 

This article explores the goals of PD for strategic reading instruction and the ideal components of PD. It subsequently discusses the types of PD that are available, and the expectations of a high-quality PD program.

 

Professional Development for Strategic Reading Instruction

Professional Development for Strategic Reading Instruction

Professional development (PD) is the ongoing training received by teachers to improve their skills, knowledge, and expertise as a teacher. School districts provide PD to teachers to educate them about curricular adoptions or other school-wide and classroom initiatives. 

From a teachers’ perspective,  learning must introduce and reinforce the latest teaching practices so teachers can better support their students. Teachers also want PD to be aligned with the vision of their school district. Additionally, teachers want to improve their professional skills and methods which they know produce the best results for early reading success. 

For strategic reading instruction, all three of these reasons are important on their own merit.

 

Ongoing Learning

If there are new ways, methods or approaches to teach young students the science of reading, teachers should be equipped with this knowledge.

Vision Alignment

If the school has a particular goal towards improving reading scores, teachers must evaluate what they can do within the given timespan, to work towards achieving this goal. This can include seeking help or consultation.

Optimizing Teaching Practice

Teachers have amazing classroom insights. Rather than overhauling the way teachers teach, it’s more likely that the information learned and knowledge gained in PD sessions will be used to bolster existing teaching practices. The best case scenario for PD is when the teacher can use the information presented to address concerns, and improve their existing teaching practice. 

 

Components of Professional Development for Excelling in Reading Instruction

Components of Professional Development for Excelling in Reading Instruction

The positive effect of professional development on student reading performance is well established, where increased quality of teaching and greater teacher knowledge improves reading outcomes. 

In a meta-analysis of 35 studies that featured an experimental design, controlled for student characteristics and other contextual variables, seven commonly shared PD traits were identified that lead to successful student outcomes.

 

Successful PD programs:

  1. Focus on teaching strategies associated with specific curriculum content.
  2. Incorporate active learning to get hands-on experience in designing and practicing teaching strategies. 
  3. Support collaboration with other teachers, members of teaching staff and paraprofessionals.
  4. Uses models of effective practice.
  5. Provide coaching and expert support.
  6. Offer opportunities for feedback and reflection.
  7. Is of sustained duration. 

When choosing PD, it’s important to ask if these seven components are reflected in the program. PD today can be executed in multiple ways. Some examples follow in the next section. 

 

Professional Development Examples in Early Literacy 

Professional Development Examples in Early Literacy

Professional development today is much more than passive training outside of school hours. Sometimes, it is collaborative in nature, and is integrated into the daily teacher schedule. 

Also, PD need not necessarily consist of just one activity or session at a particular point in time. PD can take the form of a PD plan, which can consist of multiple PD activities conducted over a certain period of time. 

Today’s world of high-speed communications is advantageous for professional development, where it’s possible to have interactive learning sessions from the comfort of your home or school office, as well as collaborate with others who may not be in the same vicinity. 

PD such as action research, attending conferences, curriculum planning, curriculum mapping, professional books and journals, peer coaching, workshops, and/or seminars can now all be conducted online. Of course, there are certain advantages to doing them in-person and in-school. 

There are other forms of PD which cannot be conducted by using virtual means only. They best lend themselves to being done on site.  Namely: classroom/school visitation, education exchange and examining student work.

There is another class of PD that is more long-term, such as: professional development schools, leadership development programs, journaling and school improvement teams. 

As long as these PD modalities have the seven characteristics covered in the previous section, the likelihood of success of early readers increases. 

 

Professional Development Expectations

Professional Development Expectations

 What does ideal PD for early reading instruction look like? 

Due to the:

  • range of modalities varying in length, location and timespan
  • the variety of goals that range from support, alignment and improvement
  • and the specific content area addressed by PD

…there are many options for constructing the ideal PD.

Sprig Learning  provides evidence-based PD that is grounded in foundational reading skills that have been proven to create successful readers by Grade 3. 

All of the PD material is the final product of decades of research and reports on effective reading instruction. All of the workshop best practices are packed into Sprig Reading, an evidence-based interactive tool for Pre-K to 2 teachers. It is designed to be used with any reading program or approach.

Attend Sprig’s Early Reading Assessment, Instruction and Planning Interactive Workshop this Tuesday, October 11. As the first part of a multi-part workshop series on evidence-based instruction, educators can expect to learn what has worked best for classrooms engaged in strategic reading instruction.

Sprig Reading workshops contain information that can be integrated into existing curriculums across multiple content areas to improve reading scores. They are created to help teachers support both pre-emergent and emergent readers. 

By attending these workshops, teachers can expect to increase their knowledge on the assessment-instructional link, progress monitoring and goal-setting for both individual readers and smaller groups of students with similar needs. 

Evidence-based Early Literacy in the United States (Covers All 50 States)

As the new school year begins, teachers, schools, school districts, organizations and governments are looking to improve early literacy scores post-pandemic. Some states across the US have strengthened previous legislative acts, other states have action plans in place to deal with literacy inequity, while others have enacted new laws to increase early reading achievement.

Several resources exist covering much of the good work underway across the US.

We’ve reviewed all these resources and selected the most pertinent information that relates to early literacy achievement and summarized it for you here. Our interactive map offers an additional way to navigate the information. It is the only one of its kind that focuses solely on the Pre-K to 3 education journey. Simply click on any state and see what efforts are in place to improve literacy scores.

 

How to Read Each Evidence-based Early Literacy Profile

Evidence-Based Early Literacy Profile

Each state identified share three common components in reading achievement for early learners. These three elements look at the planning behind each student when they enter kindergarten, their Pre-K to 3 education experience, and their level of reading achievement at Grade 3. 

Each profile includes succinct answers to all of the following questions:

Quality of Instruction

  • Is instruction evidence-based? How so?

Assessments & Monitoring of Data

  • Besides mandated assessments, what other structures are in place to monitor student progress?
  • Given the importance of identifying dyslexic early learners, is there a provision to screen for these learners?
  • Is there a plan for connecting Pre-K data to school data, and a mechanism for dealing with students who don’t meet reading requirements by Grade 3?

Interventions

  • Is there any guidance on how the assessment data is to be used?
  • Is guidance provided on the type of interventions that should be implemented?

The education industry in the US is regulated at the federal and state level. It is helpful to see the policies of each state in the US, to get a feel for how things are progressing. 

Sprig hopes that this information is useful in understanding the current landscape of evidence-based early literacy policies in the US. 

Sprig Reading is an interactive tool for JK-2 teachers that was designed to implement evidence-based instruction for diverse classrooms. It strongly encourages screening for dyslexia and formative assessments, and fits well within the framework of existing screening and assessment policies. Additionally, it agrees with and conforms to all assessment use cases that are in law currently, such as informing intervention policies, reporting to parents, or informing instruction.

 

The Interactive Evidence-based Early Literacy Map of the US


Alabama

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“The Alabama Literacy Act, passed in 2019, has sharpened the focus on early grades reading and directed coaching support and additional resources to support reading instruction based on the science of reading. The law now requires all schools to assess all students in reading from kindergarten through third grade.” (Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with certain exemptions. 

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third-grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of interventions:

– Summer school.

– After school.

– Saturday school tutorial programs.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Alaska

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“In June 2022, Governor Mike Dunleavy signed the Alaska Reads Act into law, creating four new programs to support early literacy: district reading intervention program, department reading program, voluntary Pre-K and Parents as teachers, and  a virtual education consortium.” (The Alaska Reads Act)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Allowed, but not required. Retention policy is a local decision.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third-grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Not specified in statute or regulation.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Arizona

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“Arizona’s Move on When Reading law was first enacted in 2010 and implemented in 2013.  The purpose of the legislation is to identify struggling readers and to provide them with specific, targeted interventions so that they are reading at or above grade level by the end of the 3rd grade.

A student may not be promoted from the third grade if the student fails to demonstrate sufficient reading skills on the statewide assessment as determined by the Board.” (Arizona State Board of Education). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with certain exemptions. 

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Screening and formative assessments in reading are required in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Inform instruction.

– Monitor student progress.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Intensive intervention based on high-quality research findings.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Arkansas

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“The Right to Read Act, amended by the Arkansas Legislature in 2019, requires curriculum programs that are supported by the science of reading and based on instruction that is explicit, systematic, cumulative, and diagnostic, including without limitation: (1) dyslexia programs that are evidence based and aligned to structured literacy or grounded in the Orton-Gillingham methodology, (2) evidence-based reading intervention programs, and (3) evidence-based reading programs that are grounded in the science of reading.” (Division of Elementary and Secondary Education)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Yes. 

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Literacy and mathematics assessments are required in grades K-2.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Reporting to students, parents and the community.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– In school intensive reading instruction.

– Summer school programs.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

California

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

Senate Bill 488 Teacher credentialing: reading instruction was signed in 2021, “which will require the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) to revise and strengthen teaching standards for licensure for new teachers that incorporate both the science of reading and the California Dyslexia Guidelines. Decoding DyslexiaThe new law will require that accredited teacher preparation programs meet higher standards with respect to preparing teachers in evidence-based reading instruction, particularly foundational reading skills. The CTC will also be required to certify that existing accredited teacher preparation programs are aligned with the new teaching standards. The new law will sunset the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (or “RICA) and it will be replaced with a new Literacy Teaching Performance Assessment that will include assessing instruction on foundational reading skills.” (New California Reading Law Tightens Teaching Standards)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with certain exemptions. 

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

No additional assessments are required. However, districts can receive support from the state department of education to provide K-2 English language arts and mathematics formative assessments.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Summer school.

– Interim session remediation.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No. 

 

Colorado

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“The Colorado Reading to Ensure Academic Development Act (READ Act), passed by the Colorado legislature in 2012, focuses on early literacy development for all students and especially for students at risk to not read at grade level by the end of the third grade. The READ Act focuses on literacy development for kindergarteners through third-graders. Students are tested for reading skills, and those who are not reading at grade level are given individual READ plans. In 2019, the legislature strengthened the READ Act, adding new emphasis on the importance of instruction that is scientifically proven to be effective in teaching all students to read at grade level. It required all K-3 teachers to receive training in evidence-based reading instruction.” (Colorado READ Act).

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Allowed, but not required. 

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments in reading are required to be given by teachers in grades K-3. Summative reading assessments may be administered in grades K-2.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Informing individual intervention.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Student specific strategies based on their needs.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Connecticut

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?“New mandates within the recently enacted state budget bill require every school district in the state to have a reading curriculum that focuses on the so-called “science of reading” by 2023.The legislation, initially dubbed the “Right to Read” act, also calls for $12.8 million in spending to ensure that school districts where students are falling behind can hire reading coaches.” (Right to Read CT)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with certain exemptions. 

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments in reading are required to be administered to students in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Informing instruction.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Supplemental reading instruction.

– Tutoring

– After school, school vacation, weekend, ro summer reading program.

– Individual reading plans.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Delaware

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

Senate Bill 4 was introduced in March 2022. “This Act requires the Department of Education to maintain and publish a list of evidence-based, reading instruction curricula for grades kindergarten through 3. Each curriculum on this list must align with the essential components of literacy, known as the “science of reading” and use high-quality instructional materials. This Act also requires that by the beginning of the 2027-2028 school year, school districts and charter schools serving students in grades kindergarten through 3 do all of the following: 1. Adopt a reading instruction curriculum from the Department list. 2. Demonstrate that all educators who teach reading complete professional development aligned with the essential components of evidence-based reading instruction. 3. Identify a school-based supervisory position responsible for assisting with the implementation of the adopted curriculum.” (Delaware General Assembly)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with certain exemptions. 

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments on student progress on state standards must be given to students in grades K-2.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Reporting results to parents.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Individual improvement plan.

– Summer school.

– Before and/or after school instruction.

– Saturday school.

– Tutoring.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Florida

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

Just Read, Florida! was launched in 2001 with the unequivocal goal of every child being able to read at or above grade level. The 2022 Florida Statutes ensures that the office shall provide “training to reading coaches and school administrators on the evidence-based strategies for purposes of implementation, modeling, and classroom observations to support professional growth and inform performance evaluations of instructional personnel. It shall create multiple designations of effective reading instruction, with accompanying credentials, to enable all teachers to integrate reading instruction into their content areas. It shall also work with the Lastinger Center for Learning at the University of Florida to develop training for K-12 teachers, reading coaches, and school administrators on effective content-area-specific reading strategies to improve student reading performance.” (The 2022 Florida Statutes)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with certain exemptions. 

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Screening, diagnostic, progress monitoring assessments can be administered to identify reading deficiencies.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Identifying reading deficiencies.

– Informing intensive, explicit, systematic, and multisensory reading interventions.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of interventions:

– Personalized intensive, explicit, systematic and multisensory.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Georgia

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

HR 650 passed in 2022, which has the following committee goals 

“1. Define evidence-based literacy instruction.

  1. Understand impact of low-literacy on Georgia’s workforce competitiveness.
  2. Identify all the programs that exist along the pipeline and understand how they can work together.
  3. Examine how changes can be made to education standards to support evidence-based instruction and enable adaption as new science emerges.
  4. Determine how Georgia can best support and expand local ecosystems to maximize potential and while enabling local flexibility.
  5. Recommend actions and legislation as needed.” (HR 650: EVIDENCE BASED LITERACY STUDY COMMITTEE)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with the opportunity for a parental or teacher appeal.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments in reading and mathematics are required in grades 1 and 2.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Class augmentation.

– Self-contained instructional models.

– Reduced class size.

– Pull-out models.

– Reading Recovery.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Hawaii

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

 Hawaii “requires all schools to have early screening and assessments for early identification of dyslexia. These requirements include:

  • A multi-tiered system of research-validated interventions and supports.
  • Multi-sensory structured language education.
  • Program content includes phonology and phonological awareness, sounds and symbol association, syllables, morphology, syntax, and semantics.” (Journal, IMSE)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Not specified in statute or regulation.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No. 

 

Idaho

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

The Idaho Comprehensive Literacy Plan, introduced in 2020, “ lays a good framework for the state’s literacy instruction. The 45-page document identifies the five essential reading components as phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension.It also puts focus on research-based interventions and systematic, explicit instruction. It lays out how teachers shall use a wide variety of information about their students to develop individualized instruction that addresses students’ unique needs.” (Journal, IMSE)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments in literacy are required twice per year in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Informing interventions.

– Determining whether struggling schools will require a school intervention program.

– Reporting annually to the state board, legislature and governor and public.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Extended time literacy intervention.

– Minimum of 60 hours of supplemental instruction for students who score below basic on the reading screening assessment.

– Minimum of 30 minutes of supplemental instruction for students who score basic on the reading screening assessment.

– Online or digital instruction materials or programs may be used.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Illinois

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

The Right to Read Act passed the house committee in 2022. It requires “that the State Board of Education shall offer support: to each public school district to select evidence-based core reading instruction programs and implement them using structured literacy instruction; and to each early childhood, elementary, and special education teacher, reading specialist, literacy coach, and administrator to complete evidence-based training in teaching reading. Requires the State Board of Education to annually compile and post on its website information on the steps it has undertaken to support school districts to deliver high-quality, evidence-based literacy instruction, including a list of any Early Literacy Grant recipients, documentation of how the recipient allocated the funding to support improved literacy, and what evidence-based literacy curricula the recipient is utilizing.” (Bill Track 50)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is allowed. Retention policy is a local decision.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Summer bridge program of no less than 90 hours.

– Tutorial sessions.

– Increased or concentrated instructional time.

– Modifications to instructional materials.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Indiana

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

It was announced in August 2022 that “Indiana will spend $111 million to revamp its method of teaching reading to young students by prioritizing phonics, state leaders announced Thursday. The lion’s share of the funds will go to training teachers in the “science of reading” — a vast body of research on optimal early literacy techniques.  The bulk of the total money $85 million will go toward training current and future teachers on phonics-focused literacy instruction. Up to $60 million is for the state education department to increase the number of instructional coaches who specialize in phonics-based literacy in elementary schools.” (Chalkbeat Indiana). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with certain exemptions. 

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Formative and summative assessments in reading for grades K-2 must be included in a district’s reading plan.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Scientifically-based reading strategies that meet the student’s needs.

– Instruction by an effective teacher as measured by student performance results.

– At least 90 minutes of reading instruction each school day.

– At least one of the following instructional options:

– Tutoring before or after school.

– Parent workshops and a parent-guided home reading program.

– A mentor or tutor with specialized reading training and may include volunteers or school staff.

– Extended-day programs, supplemental instruction services.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Iowa

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“Iowa has two codes in place that promote effective, evidence-based programming, instruction, and assessment practices. It requires that each school district must assess all students K-3 for their level of reading or reading readiness. For students who are persistently at risk in reading, schools must provide intensive instruction, including 90 minutes daily of scientific, research-based reading instruction.” (Journal, IMSE).

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Yes. 

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Locally determined or statewide assessments in reading or reading readiness are required in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Informing instruction and intervention for students.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:- Reduced teacher-student ratios.

– More frequent progress monitoring.

– Small group instruction.

– Tutoring or mentoring.

– Extended school day, week, or year.

– Summer reading programs.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Kansas

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

HB 2567 was passed in 2022, which creates “the Every Child Can Read Act, which requires every school district in Kansas to implement a literacy program based on the science of reading, designed to ensure every student learns to read by third grade.” (Kansas Lawmakers Pass Transformational, Student-Centered Legislation)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No. 

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

State or diagnostic assessments that meet state standards in math and reading are required in grades K-3

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required use of K-3 assessment data include:

– Informing target specialized instructional interventions, programs and strategies.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Individualized instruction.

– Alternative teaching methods.

– A restructured school day.

– Extended time strategies.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Kentucky

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“Kentucky passed a few laws relating to dyslexia in 2018. House Bill 187 required the Department of Education to create a dyslexia toolkit that contains guidance, training, and technical assistance aimed at implementing evidence-based practices.House Bill 367 created a dyslexia trust fund administered by the Kentucky Department of Education. The purpose of the fund is to finance grants to local school districts for support of students identified by the characteristics of dyslexia.” (Journal, IMSE)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Diagnostic assessments in reading must be provided by school districts for grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Informing intervention services for students who are not at a proficient reading level.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Response to Intervention.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Louisiana

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

In 2021, Louisiana passed Act 108, “which requires early literacy training for all K-3 teachers of reading, math, science, and/or social studies as well as principals and assistant principals of schools that include the K-3 grade levels. This training, which consists of the science of reading, must be completed no later than the beginning of the 2023-2024 academic year.” (Richland Parish School Board). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Screening in literacy must be administered to all students in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of the K-3 assessment data include:

– Identifying reading deficiencies.

– Identifying possible physical or mental impairments.

– Informing instruction and intervention.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Not specified in statute or regulation

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Maine

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

The updated 2020 Maine Reading Standards “provides earning targets in developmental progressions for each grade K-5.”(Maine Department of Education). Reading Foundational skills are a part of the supporting materials to better implement the reading standards. 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Allowed, but not required.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments in reading, mathematics, science and social studies are required in grades K-12.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

School districts are required to provide interventions to students in grades K-12 to support them in meeting academic standards and requirements. Interventions must be timely and based on ongoing formative assessments and progress monitoring

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Maryland

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

The Ready to Read Act “requires local school systems to screen students in kindergarten for reading difficulties and to screen students in first grade who have not been screened or who are at-risk for reading difficulties. It also requires supplemental instruction to be provided to those students found to be at risk for reading difficulties. “ (Maryland State Board of Education)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is allowed with exemptions.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Screening in reading must be administered by a district to students entering a school in kindergarten or first grade.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Informing intervention.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Enrollment in a reading assistance program.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Massachusetts

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“Starting in 2018, staff in the Department’s Office of Literacy and Humanities engaged educators and other stakeholders statewide to develop the Department’s Literacy Strategic Plan.This strategic plan, called Mass Literacy,  responds to the concerns of educators along with ELA/Literacy achievement data. As a result, it identifies two areas of focus for the Department’s instructional support for English Language Arts and Literacy: high-quality core instruction and evidence-based early literacy.” (Massachusetts, Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Not specified in statute or regulation

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Michigan

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“In 2016, the Michigan Legislature passed a law that requires schools to identify learners who are struggling with reading and writing and to provide additional help. The law states that third graders may repeat third grade if they are more than one grade level behind beginning with the 2019-2020 school year.” (State of Michigan)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with exemptions.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Screening, formative, and diagnostic assessments in reading must be administered at least three times per year to K-3 students.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Diagnosing reading difficulties.

– Informing instruction and intervention needs.

– Assessing progress towards a growth target.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of Intervention:

– Additional instructional time during the school day.

– Students in third grade can receive:

– Daily small group instruction or 1-on-1 instruction.

– Parent-lead reading at home programs.

– Ongoing progress monitoring.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Minnesota

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

The 2021 Minnesota Statutes cover the literacy goal of seeking “to have every child reading at or above grade level no later than the end of grade 3, including English learners. It requires that teachers provide comprehensive, scientifically based reading instruction.” It also says that “Reading assessments in English, and in the predominant languages of district students where practicable, must identify and evaluate students’ areas of academic need related to literacy. The district also must monitor the progress and provide reading instruction appropriate to the specific needs of English learners. The district must use a locally adopted, developmentally appropriate, and culturally responsive assessment and annually report summary assessment results to the commissioner by July 1. (Minnesota Legislature)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Allowed, but not required.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Locally determined reading assessments are required in grades K-2.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Reporting results to parents.

– Reporting results to the state department.

– Informing instruction and intervention.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Attendance in summer school.

– Intensified reading instruction that may require that the student be removed from the regular classroom for part of the school day.

– Extended-day programs.

– Programs that strengthen students’ cultural connections.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Mississippi

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“In 2013, Mississippi passed a law to use science-based instruction to ensure students read at or above grade level by the end of third grade.” (The Hechinger Report). The Literacy-Based Promotion Act (LBPA) “ensures a comprehensive approach to teaching all children to read starting as early as kindergarten. The true spirit of the law is to identify K-3 students who need additional help in reading as early as possible and to provide effective instruction and intervention to ensure they read on grade level by the end of third grade. In 2016, the law was amended to include individual reading plans for students identified with a reading deficiency, and a higher cut score was established for third-grade promotion.” (Excel in Ed). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with exemptions.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Screening assessments are required in literacy and numeracy in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Identifying reading deficiencies.

– Reporting to the state department of education.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Small group instruction.

– Reduced teacher-student ratios.

– Tutoring in scientifically research-based reading services in addition to the regular school day.

– The option of transition classes.

– Extended school day, week or year; and Summer reading camps.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Missouri

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“Missouri still abides by the Reading Instruction Act, established in 2002. The bill was enacted to ensure that all public schools establish reading programs in kindergarten through third grade that are based in scientific research.These programs must include the essential components of phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. All new teachers who teach reading in kindergarten through third grade must receive adequate training in these areas.” (Journal, IMSE.)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with exemptions.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Reading assessments must be administered by a district at the beginning of the school year to all third-grade students.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of the K-3 assessment data include:

– Informing reading improvement plans and instruction.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Individual intervention plan.

– Summer reading program.

– Individual or group development activities.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Montana

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“Montana enacted SB0140 in July of 2019, which is cited as the “Montana Dyslexia Screening and Intervention Act.The act addressed dyslexia in Montana by providing a definition of dyslexia and requiring school districts to screen students and address the needs of students identified with dyslexia. The screening instrument must be designed to assess developmentally appropriate phonological and phonemic awareness skills.”( Journal, IMSE). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Not specified in statute or regulation

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Nebraska

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“The NebraskaREADS initiative was created to serve the needs of students, educators, and parents along the journey to successful reading. The NebraskaREADS initiative supports the policies and practices outlined in the Nebraska Reading Improvement Act, which was enacted in 2018 and went into effect during the 2019-2020 school year. The law takes a comprehensive approach to improve the early literacy skills of Nebraska’s K-3 students. It emphasizes the importance of strong early reading instruction and individualized supports for students who are struggling.”(Nebraska Department of Education). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Not specified in statute or regulation

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Nevada

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“Nevada’s Grade 3 Reading laws, which were revised in 2019, require districts to create a literacy plan for elementary school students. At the school level, principals must identify a literacy strategist to assist other teachers with reading instruction, and teachers must complete state-mandated professional development around reading. If a student in kindergarten through third grade falls behind in reading, the district must notify parents, and districts must create a plan to monitor the students’ progress. The state had planned to phase in a retention requirement in the coming years, but 2019 revisions to the law eliminated that requirement.” (Third Grade Reading Laws). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is allowed, but not required.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Reading assessments are required in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Informing reading interventions.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Small group reading sessions.

– Specific instruction based on reading deficiencies.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

New Hampshire

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

New Hampshire law states, “The student’s school district shall provide age-appropriate, evidence-based, intervention strategies for any student who is identified as having characteristics that are associated with potential indicators or risk factors of dyslexia and related disorders beginning no later than January 1, 2018.”In the event  that a diagnosis of dyslexia or other reading disability is confirmed by the comprehensive assessment, the board of education shall provide  appropriate evidence-based intervention strategies to the student, including  intense instruction on phonemic awareness, phonics and fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension.” (National Center on Improving Literacy)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Not specified in statute or regulation

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

New Jersey

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“The most recent literacy policy of note that was passed in New Jersey was AB3606. This act stated that during each five-year, 100-hour professional development period, teachers are required to complete at least 20 hours of professional development instruction on the screening, intervention, accommodation, and use of technology for students with reading disabilities such as dyslexia.” (Journal, IMSE).

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is allowed, local decision and policy.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Not specified in statute or regulation.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

New Mexico

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

Senate Bill 398 was signed into law in 2019. It states that “ Every school district shall develop and implement a literacy professional development plan that includes a detailed framework for structured literacy training by a licensed and accredited or credentialed teacher preparation provider for all elementary school teachers and for training in evidence-based reading intervention for reading interventionists and special education teachers working with students demonstrating characteristics of dyslexia or diagnosed with dyslexia.” (54th Legislature, State of New Mexico)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is allowed, local decision.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Screening and progress monitoring in reading, language arts and mathematics are required for grades kindergarten and one. Diagnostic tests in reading and language arts are required in grades two and three.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 Assessment date include:

– Inform, in part, grade placement determinations.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Tutoring.

– Extended day or week programs.

– Summer programs.

– Other research-based interventions and models for student improvement.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

New York

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

In 2022, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced that elementary schools in the biggest district in the country would be required to adopt a phonics-based reading program. (Time). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Diagnostic screening in reading, mathematics, problem solving, motor development, articulation skills, and cognitive development are required of all new entrants to school and those with low test scores.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Individualized instruction.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

North Carolina

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“The Excellent Public Schools Act of 2021 modifies the implementation of read-to-achieve programs, including changes to reading instruction in North Carolina public elementary school classrooms, with the aim of improving literacy levels by the time students reach the third grade. Notably, the law transitions reading instruction away from a ‘look and say’ method to adopt a ‘Science of Reading’ approach based on phonetic practices of comprehension, and establishes an Early Literacy Program in the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to provide teacher training and support.The law means teacher licensing will include three continuing education credits directly related to literacy and based upon the science of reading method.” (The Carolina Journal). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with exemptions.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Formative and diagnostic assessments in reading are required in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Identifying student reading difficulties.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Individual instruction.

– Tutoring, or mentoring that targets specific reading skills and abilities.

– Reading camp.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

North Dakota

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“The Science of Reading legislation passed by the North Dakota legislature in 2021. This legislation is intended to support the improvement of core reading instruction for students in kindergarten through third grade throughout North Dakota. The Science of Reading legislation requires schools and districts to use curriculum to provide reading instruction and correctly diagnose reading struggles. Specifically, K-3 educators and administrators must receive training in instructional practices that align with research that reveals the science of how the brain learns and engages in reading.” (North Dakota Department of Public Education). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Summer school.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Ohio

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“Bill 436 was signed into law in 2019 that requires the department, in collaboration with the Ohio Dyslexia Committee, to identify screening and intervention measures that evaluate the literacy skills of students using a multi-sensory structured literacy program.” (Ohio Department of Education). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with exemptions.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Diagnostic assessments in reading, writing and mathematics are required in grades K-2. Diagnostic assessments in reading and writing must be administered in grade three.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Understanding student progress towards meeting learning standards.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Alternative or supplemental instruction.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

Oklahoma

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

Teachers in Oklahoma “are now required to receive annual training for dyslexia awareness from a multi-sensory structured language training institute. “ (Journal, IMSE)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with exemptions.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Screening instruments in reading are required in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Identifying the need for intervention and additional instruction.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Additional instructional time.

– After school tutoring.

– Summer school programs.

– Student who have been retained

– Minimum of ninety minutes of daily uninterrupted time.

– Scientific-research-based reading instruction.

– Individualized instruction.

– Small group instruction.

– Reduced teacher-student ratio.

– Progress monitoring, tutoring or mentoring.

– Transition classes containing third and fourth grade students.

– Extended day/week/year programs, and summer school.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Oregon

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“The Oregon Legislature passed the Student Success Act in 2019, which was a historic investment in Oregon education.” It pledged $1 billion per year on initiatives that included early Learning. It required that the Teachers Standards and Practices Commission “establish the standards for the professional development of teachers. Schools must be able to demonstrate that candidates receive training in how to provide literacy instruction that enables all students to meet or exceed third-grade reading standards.” (Journal, IMSE). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Ongoing screening, progress monitoring and assessments can be administered to students in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Guiding instructional decisions.

– Informing instructional strategies for student groups.

– Supporting structured interaction with parents.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Not specified in statute or regulation.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Pennsylvania

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

House Bill 2045 passed in 2022,  “which requires the state Department of Education to establish a teacher training course in the “science of reading,” starting next school year.It defines “science of reading” as evidence-based instructional and assessment practices that integrates listening, speaking, reading, spelling and writing in the development of oral and written language skills. The statewide literacy program would be voluntary for public schools to participate. Its purpose is to train educators on how to identify potential risk factors for early reading deficiencies and instruct them in how to differentiate instruction to improve reading outcomes.” (Penn Live)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Each school must design an assessment system for all students to determine the degree to which students are achieving academic standards.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Identifying and providing assistance to students who are not achieving proficiency on academic standards.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Not specified in statute or regulation.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Rhode Island

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“The Rhode Island Right to Read Act was passed in July of 2019.  The law requires educators to exhibit either proficiency in or awareness of the knowledge and practices of the Science of Reading and Structured Literacy. In addition, Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) must provide professional learning for educators to support these requirements, and Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs) must address these requirements within their programs of study.

The Science of Reading, or scientific reading instruction, is defined as empirically-based instruction that is grounded in the study of the relationship between cognitive science and educational outcomes. Structured Literacy is defined as an approach to teaching that integrates speaking, listening, reading, and writing by providing explicit, systematic, diagnostic-prescriptive instruction in phonological and phonemic awareness, sound-symbol correspondence (phonics), syllables, morphology, semantics, and syntax.” (Rhode Island Department of education)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Districts must develop an assessment plan to monitor and assess all students’ progress.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Inform teacher evaluations.

– Improving performance in the school district.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Supplemental instruction.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

South Carolina

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

The South Carolina Read to Succeed Act requires the  implementation of “ a comprehensive, systemic approach to reading which will ensure that classroom teachers use evidence-based reading instruction in prekindergarten through grade twelve, to include oral language, phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension; administer and interpret valid and reliable assessments; analyze data to inform reading instruction; and provide evidence-based interventions as needed so that all students develop proficiency with literacy skills and comprehension.” (South Carolina Legislature). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with exemptions.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Formative assessments in English language arts and mathematics are required in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Informing and improving literacy instruction and planning at the school and district level.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Individual or small group assistance.

– 30 minutes of additional reading and writing instruction.

– Summer reading camps.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

South Dakota

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“In 2018, South Dakota updated its State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy. The detailed plan focuses on the shared responsibility for students’ literacy development, focus and coherence in instruction and assessment, and formative and summative assessment among other things.

The standards break down the foundational skills of reading into four major components:

  • Print Concepts
  • Phonological Awareness
  • Phonics and Word Recognition

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of interventions:

– Scientifically-based literacy instruction.

– Educational and behavioral evaluations.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Tennessee

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

In 2021, “The Tennessee General Assembly approved a $160 million package of bills, legislation aimed at tackling student learning loss during the pandemic, the state’s stagnant literacy rates and how schools will handle standardized testing after a year of academic disruptions. 

The new legislation lawmakers approved requires local school districts to use a phonics-based approach for teaching children to read. It also provides training and support for educators to teach phonics-based reading instruction.” (The Tennessean). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with exemptions.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Response to Instruction and Intervention.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Texas

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“House Bill 3, passed during the 86th Texas Legislature, established the requirement that all teacher candidates who teach students in grades Pre-K-6 demonstrate proficiency in the science of teaching reading on a new, standalone certification exam. This requirement took effect on January 1, 2021.” (Texas Education Agency)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is required with exemptions.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Reading assessments are required in grades K-2.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Determining if students have reading difficulties or dyslexia.

– Informing parents of students’ reading skills and difficulties.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Before, after and nontraditional school time instruction.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Utah

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

Utah Senate Bill 127 was signed into law in 2022. “This bill amends and establishes programs to emphasize literacy in kindergarten through grade 3. This bill requires the state board to establish strategies and administer programs to improve early literacy outcomes in kindergarten through grade 3, including:providing statewide and regional support in literacy coaching and professional learning in early literacy; establishing a panel with expertise in the science of reading and the science of reading instruction.” (Utah Legislature)

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Benchmark assessments in reading are required in grades 1-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Reporting to parents.

– Determining if a student needs individualized intervention.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Individualized interventions.

– At home resources for parents to use to support reading skill development.

– Tutoring.

– Before and after school programs.

– Summer school.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Vermont

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“ Under Title 16:Education, the Vermont Statutes state that the State Board of Education, in collaboration with the Agency of Human Services, higher education, literacy organizations, and others, shall develop a plan for establishing a comprehensive system of services for early education in the first three grades to ensure that all students learn to read by the end of the third grade.A public school that offers instruction in grades one, two, or three shall provide highly effective, research-based reading instruction to all students. All students need to receive systematic reading instruction in the early grades from a teacher who is skilled in teaching reading through a variety of instructional strategies that take into account the different learning styles and language backgrounds of the students. “ (Vermont General Assembly). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Research-based reading instruction.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

Virginia

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

The Virginia Literacy Act was signed into law in 2022. It “makes several changes relating to early student literacy, including requiring (i) each education preparation program offered by a public institution of higher education or private institution of higher education or alternative certification program that provides training for any individual seeking initial licensure with an endorsement in a certain area, including as a reading specialist, to demonstrate mastery of science-based reading research and evidence-based literacy instruction, as such terms are defined in the bill; (ii) the literacy assessment required of individuals seeking initial teacher licensure with endorsements in certain areas to include a rigorous test of science-based reading research and evidence-based literacy instruction; (iii) each school board to establish a divisionwide literacy plan; and (iv) each local school board to provide a program of literacy instruction.” (Bill Track 50). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Standards of Learning or diagnostic assessments in reading must be administered in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Determining the need for reading intervention.

– Reporting to the state department of education.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention include:

– Special reading teachers.

– Trained aides.

– Volunteer tutors under the supervision of a certified teacher.

– Computer-based reading tutorial programs.

– Aides to instruct in-class groups while the teacher provides direct instruction to the students who need extra assistance.

– Extended instructional time in the school day or school year for these students.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Washington

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

In 2018, Washington passed Senate Bill 6162 which defines dyslexia as a specific learning disability and requires early screening for dyslexia. The bill states that each school district and charter school must screen each student in kindergarten and first grade for indications of dyslexia.Each school district must also use evidence-based multitiered systems of support to students who display indications of dyslexia.It also called for the dissemination of research and information to schools about evidence-based reading programs and practices. (Journal, IMSE). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is allowed, local decision.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Reading assessments are required in grade 2..

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 Assessment data include:

– Informing parents, teachers, and school administrators on the level of oral reading accuracy and fluency skills for each student.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Superintendents are required to develop a list of intervention strategies to support student reading skills and provide that list of interventions to the state department of education.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

West Virginia

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“The West Virginia Leaders of Literacy: Campaign for Grade-Level Reading  works with all 55 counties to close the literacy gap by the end of third grade.

It focuses on four components to help improve literacy rates:

  • School Readiness
  • Attendance
  • Extended Learning
  • High-Quality Instruction

 The instruction involves immersion in a literacy-rich environment to develop awareness and understanding of reading and writing.” (Journal, IMSE). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

Retention is allowed based on a teacher recommendation.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Assessments beyond federally required third grade assessments are not specified in state statute.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Not specified in state statute.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Before, during and after school instruction.

– Summer instruction.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

 

Wisconsin

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“Under current law, school boards and independent charter schools must

annually assess pupils enrolled in four-year-old kindergarten to second grade for

reading readiness using an assessment of literacy fundamentals selected by the

school board or independent charter school. The selected reading readiness

assessment must evaluate whether a pupil possesses phonemic awareness and letter

sound knowledge. “ (Wisconsin State Legislature). 

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

Yes.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Reading assessments are required in grades K-2.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 Assessment data include:

– Informing parents of student reading difficulties.

– Informing and determining if students need additional instruction and intervention..

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Types of intervention:

– Scientifically-based, individualized reading interventions in areas of deficiency.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

No.

 

Wyoming

Are there any laws about evidence-based literacy instruction?

“Wyoming introduced an act in 2019 (HB297) that states each school district must select and implement a reading assessment and intervention program that uses an instrument that screens for signs of dyslexia. 

This program must be administered to all students in kindergarten through grade three. In order to best assist the school district, the department of education will collect kindergarten through grade two longitudinal data from assessments. These assessments will measure the specific skills that evidence-based research has concluded are predictive of reading proficiency, which include:

  • Phonological awareness
  • Phonics
  • Decoding words and non-words
  • Oral reading fluency
  • Reading comprehension” (Journal, IMSE).

Is the state connecting birth-to-age-5 data with K-3? 

No.

Is there a Grade 3 Retention Law? 

No.

Beyond the federally required Grade 3 assessments, what other assessments are required in grades K-3?

Reading assessments are required in grades K-3.

What are the required uses of assessment data in statute?

Required uses of K-3 assessment data include:

– Informing intervention programs.

– Identifying signs of dyslexia and other reading difficulties.

What interventions are available for students in grades K-3?

Type of intervention:

– Individualized reading program.

Is there mandated dyslexia screening? 

Yes.

How Principals Can Improve Foundational Reading Skills at Their Schools

School principals have a leadership role in influencing educators in their respective schools. They also have influence over the district leadership if they can successfully implement new ideas that raise student achievement. 

Sometimes they act as the enforcers of new ideas that have been already decided upon at the district level. But given that they know their schools best, the successful implementation of such ideas completely depends on their knowledge, expertise and experience. 

Improving foundational reading skills requires the collaborative effort of many. Sprig has written about these players in previous blogs. See for example, the primary teacher, the literacy specialist and the literacy coach. This article deals with the all important role of the school principal. 

When enough principals adopt a validated, peer-reviewed approach to literacy, they can also influence the superintendents in their districts to try out evidence-based methods, which have been proven to reduce risk of reading failure.

 

What Should Principals Know About Foundational Reading Skills?

What Principals Should Know About Foundational Reading Skills

How many foundational reading skills are there? The traditional answer is five. Phonics, phonological awareness, vocabulary, reading fluency and reading comprehension. But more recent research includes word study along with phonics. Then, there is other research that includes print concepts as one of the main pillars of early reading.

While there are varying degrees of overlap between some of these concepts, it helps to isolate them from one another, and focus on an ideal number of evidence-based foundational reading skills. The Sprig Reading framework for example, has eight such pillars, which includes the 5 main Science of Reading(SoR)-based components, but also concepts of print through shared reading and dolch superpower sight words. 

It’s better to look at all studies from multiple sources and cover every listed foundational reading skill. 

 

There are 10 states in the US that either mandate teachers to use SoR instruction, or require districts to provide SoR-based curriculum or professional development. In addition, there are 12 other states that require teachers to take a SoR-based reading instruction exam, or require teacher prep programs to teach the SoR.

It’s not a case of SoR vs Balanced Literacy. It’s a matter of being more comprehensive versus less comprehensive. Focusing on the visual process of reading, and the practice of reading, are contained within the SoR. 

Popular phonics instruction in Balanced Literacy, such as focusing on the visual appearance of sight words, is already a component of a SoR-based framework. But in addition, SoR heavily focuses on the decoding aspect of reading by looking at letter-sound relationships. 

It’s not a case of abandoning one and choosing another. It’s about including everything with a focus on the 5 core foundational skills.  

 

Literacy Training for Principals

Researchers have studied the balance between managerial and content area knowledge of principals. It’s seen that when school principals develop literacy content knowledge, the students’ literacy scores increase because of more effective literacy instruction. 

Given how important the principal’s role is in a school system, there is a case to be made for principal involvement in literacy training. In a review of 100 hundred principal preparation programs, only seven referenced the term “literacy” in one of their course titles or descriptions. Out of these seven, only three specifically focused on literacy as a content topic. 

It’s safe to say that principals should be included in any literacy-related professional development. 

 

Characteristics of Effective Principals

Characteristics of Effective Principals

There is research to show that principals’ contribution accounts for a quarter of a school’s impact on student achievement. It’s amazing to think of the difference an involved principal has on reading success. Such findings are corroborated by studies which say that an above-average principal can raise student achievement by as much as 20 percentage points.

Such a large swing in student achievement could mean the difference between someone reading below, or higher than, grade level. 

 

There have been countless studies on effective principals which highlight the following behaviours for optimum student success: 

Work directly with teachers to strengthen their teaching practice.

Implement high-quality instructional approaches. 

Offer meaningful professional development opportunities.

Analyze student data with the aim of improving instruction.

Set a culture of collaboration and high expectations.

 

Each of these 5 traits can be applied in an early literacy context to focus on the foundational reading skills. 

 

The Effect of Principals on Those Who Need Most Help

Effect of Principals on Those Who Need Most Help

Foundational reading skills are important for all students, but especially for those who may require extra support. 

In a synthesis of existing studies by the Wallace Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization  that seeks to foster improvements in learning for disadvantaged children, it was discovered that effective principals lead to equitable school and student outcomes via their positive leadership behaviours. 

These primary behaviours include instructionally focused interactions with teachers, building a productive school climate, facilitating professional learning communities and engaging in strategic personnel and resource management processes. 

Principals make a big difference in schools with a high number of at-risk students. They build a sense of community by jointly developing a shared meaning of the school’s vision, mission and goals. They actively participate by discussing with teachers about instructional issues, observing instruction in the classroom, and examining student data alongside teachers.

 

How Much Involvement Is Ideal?

In a research paper titled The Impact of Instructional Leadership on Student Reading Success, the issue of the level of principal literacy involvement was explored in the literature review section.

Too much literacy content knowledge negatively affects the formative walkthrough, which is an intentional learning process where the principal assumes the student’s position as a learner in order to foster collaborative conversations. 

Less than sufficient literacy content knowledge is not good for obvious reasons, as the principal does not know how to advise teachers who are struggling to meet the instructional needs of students. 

Thus, the principals should have enough knowledge of literacy by which they are able to articulate solutions and means of improvement to teachers and staff. 

 

An Active Principal with Adequate Literacy Knowledge = Foundational Reading Success

Active Principal with Literacy Knowledge

Given the leadership position that is held by principals, they have a tremendous responsibility in transforming the vision for literacy success into a reality for schools. 

By following research-based instructional leadership behaviours as stated in this article, they are able to ensure that all students learn the foundational reading skills.

Sprig Learning is developing Sprig Reading, which can be used by principals and teachers alike, to complete ongoing assessments that track and monitor student achievement, and intervene as necessary according to need for more practice or instruction. 

Every student can be helped in their journey to reading mastery. For more insights into building an ideal literacy team, please get in touch with us. With the right tools, principals can build a role-model early literacy instructional system for an entire school district. 

Early Literacy State of Affairs. 6 Major Ways to Make a Difference.

Literacy rates in the US were already dropping before COVID-19, but the pandemic has definitely worsened the situation. 

In Virginia for example, approximately one-third of K-2 students scored below the early literacy benchmark last fall. This is a record high in the 20-year history of conducting The Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening assessment in the commonwealth of Virginia.

This year, various states are reporting improvements in grade-level literacy rates as schools, for the most part, have returned back to normal. But in the majority of the states, the number of students at risk of not learning to read remains higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Data from over 1,300 schools in 37 states in the US using the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills assessment suggests that a large share of the improvements have been made for Grade 3 to 5 students. 

K-2 students and students from marginalized socioeconomic backgrounds have been affected disproportionately by the pandemic. 

There is data to show that students attending schools in lower-income zip codes or in schools serving a higher portion of Black and Latino students faced the brunt of missed or disrupted learning opportunities. 

The above finding is also true when we zoom in on any particular region. In the Boston region, for example, the percentage of students in low-income schools who are at risk of reading failure doubled during the pandemic. 

This is a major concern because birth to age 8 (Grade 3) is a critical period for learning how to read. It reveals the issue of literacy inequity, which is a big thorn to achieving reading success for all.

Vulnerable groups, either due to age or background, are lagging behind on the road to learning recovery.

 

 6 Major Difference Makers for Early Literacy 

6 Major Difference Makers for Early Literacy

Given the current state of affairs for K-2 students, and for those from marginalized backgrounds, Sprig has identified six factors that make a positive difference in the learning outcomes of children. 

These six factors, when understood properly, can be used to make a difference for students who are: struggling to read, just beginning to learn how to read, or going to start learning in the near future.

Below, we’ve paired each factor with a recommendation for action. 

 

 1. Correlation of Schooling and Reading— Equip Teachers To Spend More Time With Students.

Stanford University conducted a study which showed that Grade 2 and 3 students were 30% behind in reading fluency last year, compared to a typical school year. As soon as school stopped in the spring of 2020, the students’ development of oral reading fluency did too, and remained stagnant during the summer. 

There was a strong recovery in the fall, which is a testament to the hard work of the teachers. But the resurgence in growth was not strong enough to make up for the earlier loss, which carried over to the next year.

The takeaway here is that in-person instruction, or its closest substitute, is still the best way to teach early literacy skills and concepts to young readers. 

Post-pandemic, there is a big rise in remote and blended learning. While it’s good to have such measures in place as contingency plans, one-on-one time between a teacher and a student is still irreplaceable, especially for our youngest learners. 

Such personalized attention can best be received in a classroom environment, where the teacher gets to know the student over time and builds trust. 

 

2. Teacher’s Knowledge of Foundational Literacy Skills— Offer Evidence-based Instruction.

20 empirical studies were reviewed to validate the positive effect of teacher preparation and training programs on elementary teachers’ knowledge of the science of reading (SoR), and also student outcomes in reading. 

When teachers are well versed on the SoR, their students achieve better outcomes in reading. 

In particular, training where teachers had the opportunity to apply their learned knowledge and skills under expert guidance resulted in the biggest growth in teacher knowledge. 

The next factor (Factor 3) in this article talks more about receiving the right guidance, but the first step is to have the right knowledge about reading instruction. 

Any time evidence-based instructional strategies are used, especially those that comply with the SoR, the early learner has a better shot at reading success. It’s why Sprig Reading uses an early literacy framework that is based on the SoR. 

3. Role of Literacy Coaching— Support The Teacher With Specialist Literacy Roles.

Literacy specialists make a big difference in the success of early literacy programs. Primary school teachers have many tasks to do, and it helps to have reading specialists in the team to work with to provide a more well-rounded educational experience to striving readers. 

In particular, the literacy coach role has had a great impact on the reading achievement of early learners. 

There are many examples, such as this one research paper from a large urban school district in southeast Ohio, where literacy coaches improved teacher’s sense of efficacy in literacy instruction in multiple survey items. 

Such as:

  • Using a student’s oral reading mistakes as an opportunity to teach effective reading strategies.

 

  • Using a variety of informal and formal reading assessment strategies.

 

  • Providing specific, targeted feedback to students’ during oral reading.

 

  • Provide students with opportunities to apply their prior knowledge to reading tasks.

 

The greatest gain of working with a literacy coach was: matching differentiated reading materials to the accurate level for students in their classrooms.

The number of different ways in which specialist roles like that of a literacy coach can help primary teachers is quite amazing. What if a literacy coach is not available? In such an instance, a robust platform backed by learning resources can guide teachers.

But in an ideal scenario, both teachers and literacy specialists should collaborate in a team-based setting.  

 

4. Culturally Responsive Teaching— Ensure Diverse Student Needs are Being Met.

There are studies to show that when teachers’ self-efficacy for culturally responsive instruction increases, it increases the likelihood of early literacy success for English Learners. Not everyone starts off on an even playing field. In diverse communities, those from different backgrounds might require specialized teaching expertise or learning materials.

Sprig’s work with Indigenous communities in Canada is an example of combining high-quality early learning programs and adapting them to local traditions, language and customs. This truly helps position every child to succeed in early literacy. 

 

5. Appropriate Screening at the Right Time. — Diagnose Early.

Studies show that early literacy assessments in pre-kindergarten are correlated to literacy performance in kindergarten and beyond. These assessments are good at identifying students who may benefit from early literacy interventions as they enter kindergarten.

Sprig has highlighted the importance of early literacy intervention in a previous blog.

The K-2 group of students is especially vulnerable, because the type of educational experience they get in this formative period could either make or break their case for reading success in future years. 

Therefore, it helps to have some type of formative assessment in place, where a student is immediately assessed as they enter a program. This allows commensurate intervention to be applied if needed, which can unblock reading struggles and pave the road to reading mastery. 

 

6. Parental Involvement in the Early Years—  Communicate With Parents.

Early childhood learning experience, at home, or in any early learning program has a tremendous impact on future reading success. 

For example, one study determined that the number of words children hear by age 2, significantly predicts 16 language and literacy outcomes over the next 9 years. This includes letter identification, phonological awareness, vocabulary, and reading comprehension, which are building blocks of the Science of Reading. 

Learning begins at home, but then continues in school, as a child is introduced to a formal schooling system. As such, it’s so important to build that crucial nexus between parents and educators, so they can fill each other in on the particular needs, interests, strengths and weaknesses of the student when it comes to early reading. 

All of Sprig Learning’s platforms, including Sprig Reading, have this component built-in, whereby educators can share progress reports with parents. In Sprig Language, parents are invited to fill out surveys to build a broader understanding of the learning needs for their child. 

 

Take the Recommended Steps for Early Literacy Success

Steps for Early Literacy Success

The current state of affairs in early literacy is uncertain. Yes, progress is being made. But that progress is geared towards getting back to pre-pandemic levels of reading success, which was not ideal to begin with. Also, it’s not clear if the progress made is at risk of regression in the future. 

The good news is that more and more evidence is emerging which directly states what works in early literacy. The scope of the issue is large enough to deserve district-wide and state-wide attention, and indeed it has. 

By understanding these six factors and taking appropriate measures, it’s possible to provide adequate, sustained, and targeted supports which will usher us into a new era, where high-reading proficiency for diverse classrooms is the norm. 

Sprig Reading, Sprig Learning’s new platform for evidence-based early instruction for K-2 teachers, is going to be released on August 26th. Join the waitlist now to receive exclusive updates.