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The 6 Golden Rules of Early Literacy Development

It’s never too late for anyone to improve their skill level in reading or writing. But it’s best if such a process starts early, hence the importance of early literacy!

Sprig Language was created to help early learners achieve the fundamental milestones of literacy, beginning with oral language and leading to foundational reading and writing skills. Sprig Reading helps teachers track, assess and monitor the foundational reading skills throughout the school year.

What sets Sprig Learning resources apart from any other early literacy resources is that they support learning both inside the classroom and at homes with families. 

They are ideally suited for early learning, taking into account a young child’s learning process, and their daily interactions with everyone in the home and community. 

Indeed, in a child’s developmental years, the mind is like a sponge. Young learners absorb every bit of information, whether they interact with their:

Parents

Siblings

Grandparents

Uncles, aunts, cousins

Teachers

Caregivers

Friends

Learning resources

Learning programs

Thus, it’s important that early literacy development is a collective effort between all of the people, supports and resources involved. 

 

The Six Rules to Drive Early Literacy

Four Rules to Drive Early Literacy

When it comes to something as pivotal to future success as early literacy, there are certain rules for educators, which the research tells us makes a big impact on learning. 

They help give early literacy activities a shape and structure. They also help to combine the people, the process and technology into one seamlessly blended learning experience.

These six rules are integral in ensuring that early learners are set up for future success. 

When crafting an early literacy strategy, keep these six rules in mind. All are golden, so they are listed in no particular order. 

 

Rule Number 1— Use Recommended Duration Time for Planning

Setting aside dedicated time to focus on activities that develop listening, speaking, reading and all other literacy skills is essential. Often, if it’s not scheduled, it doesn’t get done in a meaningful way.

To make planning easier, Sprig Language includes hundreds of whole-class, center-based and individual activities that teachers can incorporate in their scheduled literacy blocks.  Every activity highlights estimated durations for the activity to easily slot in a classroom planner or schedule (see below).

Recommended Duration Time

The time mentioned for each activity lets the educator know approximately how long each learning activity is expected to take.  

Practice makes perfect, and practice requires dedicated time.

 

Rule Number 2— Build a Literacy Rich Environment

A literacy rich environment is one that includes sufficient educational materials and resources, both print and digital. 

When a young learner is surrounded by engaging and attractive resources, they are inspired! Resources can include material such as books, alphabet cards, writing exercises, cutouts to decorate classrooms that teach certain concepts, etc.,

Furthermore, it’s important to foster some level of digital literacy as well. One way this can be done is by having literacy apps and/or animated versions of storybooks, which stimulate multiple senses like audio, to build literacy skills. 

When an early learner finds themselves in an environment that is designed to promote literacy, they learn faster. 

Active and playful practice centers create engaging and interactive learning environments for young learners. By incorporating hands-on activities, games, and interactive materials, educators can make the learning process enjoyable and effective. One of the ways this can be done is through guided play-based learning.

It is critical to provide educational materials that are both on- and off-screen. The Sprig Learning platform is focused on assessment, instructional support and classroom management, but often it’s the many wonderful digital and physical learning materials that enrich the classroom environment!

Build a Literacy Rich Environment

Above is an alphabetic arc that is used to help build speed, accuracy, and automaticity in alphabet knowledge, letter recognition, and sequencing. 

There are hundreds more printable assets available through Sprig’s programs which allow educators to plan engaging classroom and center-based literacy activities. 

 

Rule Number 3— Be Consistent in What You Teach (Training and Application)

Consistency in Teaching

The Center for American Progress, an independent nonpartisan policy institute, says that “the advancement of literacy as a national priority has been inconsistent.” There is a need for targeted funding to low-income schools with a high concentration of students in poverty. 

It’s not fair to isolate the US in this lack of uniform planning for literacy improvements. It’s the same case throughout the world. In a recent study from Alberta, Canada, students from grade 1 to 3 were 8 to 12 months behind their reading level. 

More alarming is the fact that 3 out of 4 students who do not overcome their reading difficulties by grade 3, struggle with lifelong learning. 

In the US, a significant number of states have made the science of reading a prerequisite for elementary school teacher licensure. However, not all of these states require a comprehensive assessment of knowledge in all five components of scientifically based reading instruction, namely: phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. 

There is a great opportunity for professional development (PD) to include all of these foundational reading skills, which happens through training. Equally, there is an opportunity to use tools that are built to help students master these essential reading skills.

Without such tools and training, there is a lot more room for improvisation on effective instructional strategies and for choosing the best evidence-based practices suited to building pronunciation, word recognition, etc. 

With a tool that is already optimized to work on all these areas, the PD finds an immediate outlet through which it can have the greatest impact.Sprig Reading works on the foundational reading skills such as alphabet knowledge, phonics, phonological awareness, reading fluency and comprehension.

 

Rule Number 4— Partner with Parents and Community

Learning to read can be so much more fun (and effective) for children when family members are engaged.

But aside from being fun, it’s a great way to ensure that learning continues outside of the classroom. Significant brain development for a child happens from two to seven years of age. So it’s important to maximize learning inputs during this time. 

Holistic learning is premised on building a comprehensive understanding of a child’s learning that occurs in the school, in the home and in the community, in a way that is both balanced and holistic.

Parents often struggle to find time to reach with their child, but there are many ways caregivers can  be actively involved in their child’s education. 

Just as a student is informed in school about all the reading resources that are available to them, parents should also be aware. There are many apps available for download that provide access to high-quality reading materials. 

To help bridge the communication divide between educators and parents, Sprig Learning resources have parent and caregiver surveys that help educators get a perspective of the learning opportunities that occur at home. 

Offer Structured Literacy Intervention

An example of a Caregiver Portal homepage where caregivers are able to see and complete personalized teacher-developed activities with the child to accelerate learning. They can also share their experience in a survey from the same portal.

 

Rule Number 5— Offer Structured Literacy Intervention

Structure ensures that no student falls through the cracks when it comes to acquiring the help they need.

Structured literacy intervention plays a crucial role in early literacy development. It focuses on providing targeted instruction to struggling readers, early and often, to help them build essential reading skills. 

With a structured approach, educators can effectively address individual learning needs and support students in their reading journeys. 

Sprig Reading offers the means to deliver structured literacy instruction, where the learning material is systematically organized, and provides the ability for teachers to deliver explicit instruction (for individuals, groups and/or classroom)  based on continuous assessment and observation.  

This empowers teachers to guide students towards reading success by following a structured approach to literacy interventions.

Regardless of the evidence-based intervention model used, such as multi-tier systems of supports or Response to Intervention, Sprig Reading enhances the capability for differentiated instruction.

The picture below shows a case where the assessment and instructional needs of students are similar, but where individual data is also displayed for further analysis as needed. 

Offer Structured Literacy Intervention

 

Rule Number 6— Formatively Assess All Students

Formative assessment is a powerful tool for understanding students’ progress and identifying areas that require additional support. It is a precursor to the earlier rule of offering structured literacy intervention. 

Formative assessments are essential for effectively supporting differentiated instruction. Solely relying on summative assessments can be detrimental, as the resulting data is often too late to address students’ current learning needs, and align them with appropriate lesson plans and curriculum. Without timely formative assessments, the opportunity to intervene and support students’ learning journeys may be missed, hindering their overall academic development.

By regularly assessing students’ reading skills and comprehension, educators can make informed instructional decisions and tailor their teaching accordingly. 

Sprig Reading offers a robust formative assessment mechanism via its circle charts that enable teachers to regularly track student growth, identify strengths and areas for improvement, and adjust instruction to meet individual needs.

Formatively Assess All Students

 

The Cheat Code

Cheat Code Eary Literacy Development

These six golden rules are incredibly powerful for early literacy development. It helps to have a summary takeaway that combines all of them into one effective adage. 

Summary Takeaway: 

Consistently schedule time to teach specific literacy skills in a resource-rich environment, in partnership with others involved in the child’s early learning. 

Formatively assess, track and monitor progress in a structured system that allows for timely interventions and personalized instruction.

Sprig Learning is passionate about early learning, especially as it relates to early literacy. If you liked reading this article, please consider subscribing to our blog. See button below.

If you have questions about implementing the right programs for early literacy development, please contact us

3 Crucial Factors in Bridging The Gap Between Research and Early Literacy Success

Research related to early reading success is most effective when the findings reach the educators and administrators who stand to benefit from implementing them in the classroom. 

Through exploration of translational science, researchers have examined the many layers that exist between research and classroom teachers. 

These layers encompass policies, politics, governing bodies, education leaders in districts and states, higher education institutes, and publishing companies. They influence decisions related to curriculum and professional development at the leadership level.

The existence of all these layers can impede the successful communication and adoption of research in classrooms.

But worry not, the gap between research and practice, and consequently, the achievement of early literacy success through practical application, can be bridged.

By addressing the three crucial factors outlined in this article, any school district, governing body, or elementary literacy team can enact policies or implement measures to successfully translate the latest research into actionable practices.

 

1. Stay Up To Par with Current Research: Leverage New Tools/Resources or Adapt Existing Ones

Stay Up To Par with Current Research- Leverage New Tools:Resources or Adapt Existing Ones

If your school lacks a comprehensive standard or curriculum that covers all the research-based foundational reading skills, consider exploring supplemental tools that offer structured lessons and engaging activities/resources. 

These resources play a crucial role in ensuring students receive essential lessons and participate in activities that enhance their understanding of key concepts.

While over half of elementary school teacher preparatory programs now have evidence-based components in them, this was not always the case. 

In instances where elementary school teacher preparatory programs may have lacked evidence-based components, educators might be accustomed to certain teaching methods.

If educators are not receiving training in structured literacy within their current school environment, how can they acquire this knowledge while fulfilling their teaching responsibilities?

Are there accessible teaching resources with integrated professional learning components? 

Alternatively, can support from specialists, such as literacy coaches, increasingly employed by many schools, fill this knowledge gap for educators?

These are legitimate questions that have to be answered if any education system is serious about bringing science-backed and proven early literacy research into schools.

Gathering the right support for teachers is one of the quickest ways to help them translate research into effective practice for early literacy success. That’s why it tops the list of three crucial factors.

 

2. Integrate the Science of Reading with The Science of Teaching Reading

Integrate the Science of Reading with The Science of Teaching Reading

There is a need for identifying strategies to align classroom practices with current knowledge on literacy development and instruction. Achieving this goal hinges on gaining a clear understanding of classroom teaching practices.

It needs to be understood how reading is taught in primary grades.

Is there resistance among teachers toward broad educational changes? One key point of contention in the discourse on word reading development is the appearance of total disregard of the language acquisition model. 

If such perceptions exist, they must be dispelled promptly. Evidence-based early literacy has consistently highlighted the crucial need for decoding skills, such as phonics and phonological awareness, and also skills such as oral language and comprehension. 

All these knowledge areas, and more that have not been mentioned, collectively constitute the foundational reading skills essential for evidence-based instruction and assessment tools.

Language can be universally and naturally acquired without explicit instruction, thriving in enriched linguistic environments. Whole language approaches leverage the innate development of language skills, arguing that children can deduce meaning from print.

Yet, studies indicate that word reading is distinct from the natural act of language learning and acquisition. Unlike oral language comprehension, reading is not universally inherent across cultures, languages, or individuals. 

Thus, it can be asserted that oral language comprehension is natural, while word reading necessitates explicit instruction.

Thus, it can be understood how educator knowledge, beliefs and perception about their teaching philosophies matter a great deal. Because it is ultimately them who will have to formulate the right teaching strategy and tactics, in line with the research, and with help from others.

They must teach and progressively monitor the foundational reading skills explicitly. Additionally, they need to create routines and classrooms with appropriate activities and learning environments. 

It’s a big ask. Thus, recognizing the importance of the science of teaching reading alongside the science of reading, is paramount.

Teachers require support through professional development which not only imparts new concepts but also provides practical, teacher-centric advice on applying these concepts in the classroom.

 

3. Adopt a Holistic Approach That Makes An Effort to Know the Full Context of Every Student

Adopt a Holistic Approach That Makes An Effort to Know the Full Context of Every Student

What if teachers, equipped with added support and enriched resources due to school initiatives, align their teaching with the latest research on early literacy success? 

What if there’s a concerted focus not only on the science of reading but also on the science of teaching reading, incorporating the best aspects of their existing practices and extensive teaching experience? 

Fulfilling the above criteria would result in a successful realization of the first two crucial factors discussed in the preceding sections.

Even with the fulfillment of the two mentioned criteria, the early learner’s perspective in bridging the gap between research and early literacy success remains unaddressed.

While school resources and personnel have been acknowledged, the ultimate beneficiaries of the education system, the students, have yet to be discussed.

They indirectly benefit from evidence-based teaching practices like explicit and differentiated instruction, which tailor lessons to their individual competency. But understanding their full backstory and current learning circumstance is also crucial for an effective early literacy approach.

What does understanding a student’s full circumstances entail?It involves gaining insights into their interests, strengths, and learning experiences beyond the classroom, encompassing their home and community environments.

Understanding all these different areas to get a complete picture is holistic learning. When combined with evidence-based learning, it is a powerful deciding factor for early literacy success.

 

Bridge The Gap Between Research and Early Literacy Success 

We stand at a crucial juncture, armed with compelling evidence supporting specific teaching content and practices, which is finally being implemented at large in schools throughout North America.

Therefore, in this very important era of widely translating research into early literacy success, it is strongly encouraged to bear in mind the three factors highlighted in this article.

Using enrichment/supplementary tools +combining research with the art of teaching + learning as much as we can about the student= Abridgment of Gap between Research and Early Literacy Success.

Foundational Reading Skills– Mastering Weekly Planning for Teachers

There are an average of 36 weeks in a school year. 

Each week is an opportunity for teachers to deliver explicit instruction and assess the specific foundational skills that support every child to grow as a young reader. 

The span of a week provides teachers with the ideal unit of time to delve into specific reading skills, creating an environment for students where they can absorb and apply these skills as a learner.  

Proper planning and execution of weekly teaching activities throughout the school year results in positive outcomes for students. 

A meticulous teaching process that is repeated week in and week out ensures that students receive a well-thought-out educational experience. It contributes to their overall literacy growth and development. 

When teachers create a weekly plan infused with research-backed early literacy strategies, it ensures a dynamic and effective learning experience.

Weekly plans can keep students engaged in learning essential concepts, while allowing flexibility to address individual learning needs and take appropriate next steps.

If you’re eager to explore a comprehensive list of research-backed and proven foundational reading skills, check out this detailed article on the Sprig blog. It covers each foundational skill, providing insights into their importance and citing supporting evidence. 

This article covers how classroom teachers can master the assessment, instruction and re-assessment of foundational reading skills on a weekly basis.

 

What is Weekly Planning? With A Scenario.

What is Weekly Planning_With a Scenario

Weekly planning for teachers involves the strategic organization of instructional activities, lessons and assessments for the upcoming week.

The activities done in any one week can change over the course of the term.

While school and class contexts can differ widely, the following scenario provides a detailed view of what effective weekly planning looks like as a term progresses:

The first week serves as a dynamic introduction, encompassing foundational reading skills such as reviewing alphabet knowledge and phonics or refreshing concepts from the previous school year. 

Simultaneously, targeted explicit instruction is provided on chosen skills, accompanied by assessments to gauge student comprehension. 

Subsequent weeks shift focus to the review and adjustment stage, analyzing assessment data to distinguish skills that students have mastered and skills that are proving challenging for certain students. 

Challenging skills are revisited through whole-class instruction, ensuring a comprehensive understanding.

As teachers progress through the weekly planning framework, small-group instruction becomes pivotal for students who require extra practice. Skill segmentation is adopted, allowing educators to differentiate between whole-class needs and those of individual learners. 

For students with multiple skill deficits, individualized support and potential interventions are explored. Team collaboration with the early literacy team is emphasized, providing a platform to discuss individual student needs and design effective support strategies based on a thorough understanding of each student’s context.

Addressing knowledge gaps extends support to students falling behind while simultaneously assisting those not significantly behind but still requiring additional help. 

The creation of practice centers becomes essential for skills demanding extensive practice, offering targeted doses to enhance skill proficiency.

In instances of significant skill gaps, a blitz intervention strategy can be initiated, quickly addressing multiple knowledge deficiencies via reading strategies over a short period of time.

During this time, alternative support mechanisms like parental involvement or peer pairing can also be explored. 

Exploring various strategies within the realms of tier 1 and tier 2 instruction offers ample opportunities for intervention before resorting to tier 3 assistance, which often involves significant resource allocation.

 

Regularity and Intentionality of Weekly Planning

Regularity and Intentionality of Weekly Planning

While the previous section covered what weekly progression may look like, there are many constants which are practiced every week by educators.

Such regular and intentional practices help to build an effective formative assessment culture. 

Two such very important practices are maintaining a weekly assessment routine, and a follow-up schedule.

 

Assessment Routine

The assessment routine becomes a structured part of the teacher’s week. Data-driven insights gleaned from these assessments guide modifications in teaching practices.

Purposeful learning design ensures that chosen activities align explicitly with the content students need. 

They offer ample practice opportunities before subsequent assessments, which compose the follow-up schedule.

 

Follow-up Schedule

The establishment of a follow-up schedule ensures regular tracking of skills for all students, highlighting the importance of progress monitoring as a foundational aspect of the early literacy strategy.

 

A Template for Mastering Weekly Planning

A Template for Mastering Weekly Planning

Depending on the assessment cycle—whether it’s the initial assessment, reassessment, introduction of differentiated instruction, or reassessment of—teachers need to tailor their actions for the week accordingly.

Using the information above the weekly planning section, the following template is provided for mastering weekly planning. 

It’s a task-based template, where one or more of the following tasks might have to be completed in a week, based on the advancement of the particular school term in question.

 

Skill Selection

In-Depth Analysis: Teachers conduct a detailed analysis of foundational skills, checking for alignment with grade levels.

Differentiated Start: The first week’s focus varies, either introducing new skills or reviewing concepts from the previous term/year.

 

Instruction and Assessment

Simultaneous Approach: Teachers integrate explicit instruction with real-time assessments during the week.

Immediate Feedback: Instant feedback guides adjustments in teaching strategies.

 

Whole-class Instruction

Data-Driven Reflection: Classroom performance is measured against set benchmarks and compared to other classrooms at the same grade. 

Identifying Challenges: Skills that pose challenges are revisited through whole-class instruction, ensuring a comprehensive understanding.

 

Small-Group Instruction

Targeted Support: Students needing extra practice are identified through assessment results.

Personalized Approach: Small-group sessions allow for personalized attention and focused skill reinforcement.

 

Skill Segmentation

Strategic Approach: Teachers adopt a skill-based approach, strategically identifying skills requiring additional attention.

Differentiated Instruction: Skill segmentation guides differentiated instruction based on the needs of the entire class and specific learners.

 

Individualized Support

Isolated View: Students with multiple skill deficits are isolated for individualized attention.

Exploring Interventions: The potential need for interventions is explored to address specific challenges.

 

Team Collaboration

Contextual Support: Early literacy team meetings involve detailed discussions on individual student needs.

Effective Support Design: Full context sharing ensures the design of effective and tailored support.

 

Addressing Knowledge Gaps

Targeting Gaps: Students with knowledge gaps, though not significantly behind, receive targeted assistance.

Holistic Assistance: Support is ensured for students falling behind. Conducting holistic assessments is essential to unveil insights into learning circumstances within the school, home, and community. 

 

Setting up Practice Centers

Strategic Practice: Dedicated practice centers are created for skills requiring extensive reinforcement.

Focused Skill Doses: Practice centers provide focused doses of practice for skill enhancement.

 

Early and Thorough Intervention

Swift Addressal: A rapid intervention strategy is implemented for students with multiple skill gaps.

Alternative Support: Exploring options like parental involvement or peer pairing for additional support.

 

Following-up with Reassessments

Regular Check-Ins: A scheduled routine for follow-ups ensures consistent monitoring.

Tracking Progress: Ongoing progress monitoring allows for timely adjustments.

 

Regularizing Intentional Assessment Practice

Flexibility in Approach: Teachers choose real-time or recorded assessments based on preference.

Timely Completion: Completion before the planning stage ensures comprehensive data for future weeks.

 

Data-Driven Adjustments

Strategic Modifications: Data-driven adjustments cater to the specific needs of each student.

Flexible Planning: Activities and games are modified based on the collected data.

 

Purposeful Learning Design

Strategic Infusion: Learning is strategically infused in small, purposeful doses to address specific practice needs.

Targeted Activities: Classroom activities and games are purposefully designed to explicitly teach required content with ample practice opportunities.

 

Putting It All Together

Putting It All Together

As teachers navigate the 36-week journey of a school year, orchestrating explicit instruction, targeted assessments, and purposeful interventions, they craft an educational experience that lays the foundation for a lifetime of literacy.

In professional development or professional activity days throughout the school year, teachers have an opportunity to review their weekly planning, and receive feedback from others on how to best optimize it, in line with the latest research and best practices.

Certainly, aligning professional learning with teachers’ weekly tasks is crucial. It helps when tools designed for activities like assessments and differentiated instruction also contain a professional development component. 

This synergy ensures that teachers not only have the necessary tools at their disposal but are also equipped with the knowledge and skills to wield them effectively. 

It transforms routine tasks into opportunities for growth and mastery, ultimately leading to more efficient weekly planning.

The Vital Role of Progress Monitoring Assessments in Early Literacy: A Comprehensive Guide

In the realm of early literacy, progress monitoring emerges as a driver for successful student outcomes, while also being a linchpin for effective assessment strategies. 

While various types of assessment serve distinct purposes, progress monitoring stands out as a dynamic and continuous process crucial for fostering optimal learning outcomes. Progress Monitoring also plays a pivotal role in enhancing all other types of assessments utilized in classrooms.

Progress monitoring assessments have been defined and contrasted with other types of assessments in previous Sprig Learning articles

This article shines the spotlight on just progress monitoring: why it matters, the components that make it effective, and how to best implement it in a school setting.

 

Section One. Why Progress Monitoring Assessments Matter

Section One. Why Progress Monitoring Assessments Matter

Formative assessments are undeniably crucial to informing student learning and supporting classroom instruction.  

Sprig has previously delved into various aspects, from weighing formal versus informal formative assessments to discussing holistic formative assessment approaches. 

Within this broad landscape, progress monitoring takes center stage. Unlike static report cards, it dynamically measures progress, offering insights that may vary day by day or week by week. 

This nuanced approach empowers teachers to personalize instruction dynamically, focus on foundational early literacy skills, and intervene promptly when needed.

 

Dynamic Learning Adaptation for Personalized Learning

Progress monitoring assessments offer a real-time and historical snapshot of a child’s academic journey, allowing educators to adapt instruction dynamically. 

As noted in many early education best-practice guides, continuous monitoring facilitates timely adjustments to teaching methods, ensuring tailored support for individual needs.

 

Identification of Foundational Reading Skill Development

Progress monitoring assessments go beyond traditional assessments by honing in on foundational reading skills development. 

As indicated in many studies, progress monitoring elucidates specific areas of growth and areas that require additional focus. 

This detailed insight aids educators in crafting personalized learning journeys for unique students. 

 

Early Intervention for Those Needing Something Beyond Core Instruction

By closely tracking progress, progress monitoring assessments allow educators to implement early interventions for struggling learners, when they are needed. 

The National Center on Intensive Intervention emphasizes the significance of timely interventions, emphasizing their potential to prevent academic challenges from escalating.

 

Section Two. Components of an Effective Progress Monitoring Assessments System

Section Two. Components of an Effective Progress Monitoring Assessments System

Selecting an assessment system goes beyond mere shelf-picking; it requires a thorough evaluation based on specific criteria. 

This qualification process should ask about the qualities raised in the previous section (section one), that is:

1) Do teachers have a mechanism in the progress monitoring system by which they can swiftly assess foundational skills, and then regularly adjust classroom instruction based on timely data?

2) Does the progress monitoring system come with a framework of skills so individual instruction can be personalized for every learner?

3) Does the progress monitoring system allow teachers to use the data to identify students for immediate and timely interventions, and group students to support small group instruction? 

Even with affirmative answers to these questions, a school must scrutinize how well the desired progress monitoring system addresses certain components. 

These key components of a progress monitoring assessment tool are mentioned in this section. Each component begins with a directive.

 

Clear Objectives and Benchmarks

Establish clear learning objectives and benchmarks aligned with early literacy standards. 

How is progress, or lack thereof, marked in the tool? At each grade level, or at the end of each term, what is the expected progress for children to learn and master the foundational skills? 

Having a clear guideline for marking progress, relative to research-based benchmarks, and then interpreting the data, allows teachers to maximize the effectiveness of the selected progress monitoring tool.

 

Frequency and Consistency

Regularly assess students’ progress to ensure continuous feedback. 

The progress monitoring tool must be intuitive enough where recording assessments is simple and straightforward, anytime and anywhere. 

Ideally, it should allow assessments to be conducted immediately after explicit instruction and concept practice, where practical. The routine of ongoing assessment then becomes a part of the teacher’s overall teaching strategy. 

This consistency in assessment intervals enables educators to capture trends in skill mastery and identify immediate interventions that need to be implemented.

 

Varied Capabilities 

Seamlessly conduct all other teaching practices, such as instruction and intervention, alongside assessments.  

The role of a progress monitoring tool extends beyond measuring progress in isolation. It should seamlessly integrate with the teacher’s schedule, avoiding limitations and enhancing the effectiveness of the overall teaching practice.

Help should be provided to make observations, by taking notes for example, and match resources and activities to the skills that are being assessed. 

Such diversified capabilities contained within a progress monitoring tool provide a better teaching experience for the educator.

 

Data-Driven Decision-Making

Utilize collected data to inform instructional decisions.

How effectively does the gathered progress monitoring data empower teachers to make informed decisions and plan their weekly instruction? 

Can educators make decisions based on the percentage completion of the standards/curriculum, support small-group instruction based on student needs and strengths, and/or discern progress trends from the start of the school year? 

The data should be readily accessible and easily interpretable in any good progress monitoring assessment tool.

 

Collaboration

Foster a collaborative approach by involving other educators, literacy specialists, and parents in progress monitoring. 

How many individuals should have access to and analyze the data? Principals, teachers, early literacy specialists, parents, or a collaborative team? While the answer may vary based on the classroom’s context, the tool must inherently support collaboration. 

This is crucial as it may require a multidisciplinary approach to comprehend a student’s situation, devise an appropriate plan, and ensure they acquire essential literacy skills effectively.

 

Section Three. Implementing an Effective Progress Monitoring System

Section Three. Implementing an Effective Progress Monitoring System

Understanding the distinctive attributes of progress monitoring systems in the first section, and following the directives for optimizing the efficiency of each of its components in the second section, one should be well-equipped to evaluate any progress monitoring tool.

However, upon selecting a tool, the question of optimal implementation still arises. This third section addresses the effective implementation of progress monitoring.

 

Utilize Technology

In the contemporary, swiftly evolving era dominated by technology and increasingly diverse classrooms, dependence solely on traditional resources like binders and printed sheets can be challenging.

It’s easier when these resources can be digitized and synthesized into online tools.

Leverage educational technology tools like Sprig Reading for efficient and comprehensive progress monitoring. 

Digital platforms streamline data collection, analysis, and communication, enhancing the overall progress monitoring process.

 

Provide Professional Development

Provide ongoing professional development for educators to enhance their understanding of progress monitoring methodologies. 

Workshops and training sessions contribute to the continuous improvement of assessment practices.

While not addressed as a component of progress monitoring assessments in section two, professional development warrants attention due to its immense importance. 

Whenever assistance is required to implement the system, troubleshoot challenges, or stay abreast of new best practices for future enhancements, on-demand professional development within the tool becomes a valuable resource.

 

Continuously Evaluate and Adapt

Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of the progress monitoring system. 

Using this guide as a criterion for selecting a preferred progress monitoring tool marks the initiation of a process geared towards delivering the optimal early literacy experience, for both teachers and students.

Based on feedback, technological advancements, and evolving educational standards, new methodologies may need to be adapted in the future.

 

Start Progress Monitoring Assessments 

Start Progress Monitoring Assessments

In this comprehensive guide, the crucial role of progress monitoring assessments in early literacy has been explored. 

Beginning with Section One, the significance of progress monitoring is emphasized as a dynamic and continuous process, offering insights for personalized instruction and timely interventions.

Section Two dives into the essential components of an effective progress monitoring system. Clear objectives and benchmarks, frequency and consistency, varied capabilities, data-driven decision-making, and collaboration are identified as key elements to ensure the system’s success.

Moving to Section Three, the focus shifts to the implementation of an effective progress monitoring system. Embracing technology, providing ongoing professional development, and continuous evaluation and adaptation are highlighted as essential steps to enhance the overall progress monitoring assessment process.

By following this comprehensive approach, educators can navigate the complexities of progress monitoring assessments in early literacy, ensuring optimal learning experiences for both teachers and students.

Progress monitoring assessments are often closely linked to diagnostic assessments. Read this article and its follow-up, to understand more about diagnostic assessments. 

Why Small Group Instruction is Needed For Assessments in Early Literacy

Early literacy is the cornerstone of a child’s educational journey. It’s the point where the magic of reading and comprehension begins. 

In the early stages, educators understand the significance of assessing a child’s reading skills. It helps them identify their strengths and areas that need improvement to become strong and confident readers.

However, what’s equally crucial is the opportunity to provide small group instruction in the classroom, driven by the results of these formative assessments.

It’s one thing to assess how a classroom is faring on the foundational reading skills– if they have been assessed, if they need explicit instruction, or if they need more practice.

It’s another thing to then have the means to provide differentiated instruction to all children in the classroom.  

This article will explore why small group instruction, along with early literacy assessments, are essential in early literacy. 

It will describe the advantages of this personalized approach to instruction and how it complements the formative assessment process, creating a more effective learning experience for budding readers.

 

Assessment: The Starting Point

Assessment- The Starting Point

Assessments play a vital role in early literacy education. 

Formative assessments help educators to diagnose specific foundational reading skills and monitor progress of every early learner in the classroom.

Furthermore, they enable educators to intervene early for students requiring additional help beyond core instruction, like those in tier 2 instruction, which provides targeted support to specific student groups.

Formative assessments provide valuable insights into a child’s reading abilities and challenges. 

But assessment is only part of the teaching process. 

It is also critical to use that assessment data to inform and  shape the reinforcement of instruction, increasing the intensity or specialization of instruction (may require the involvement of more than one role), further practice, and reassessment.

Some assessment solutions pride themselves in assessments alone, which is no doubt a necessary part of early literacy. 

Formative assessments are no doubt a critical tool for early literacy,  but in order to enhance student learning and optimize early literacy practices, tools need to include  functionalities that support teachers to act upon student assessment data.

Often this looks like the enablement of small group instruction.

 

The Power of Small Group Instruction

The Power of Small Group Instruction

Once diagnostic and progress monitoring assessments are completed, small group instruction can immediately come into play. 

This personalized approach to learning involves working with a small group of students who have similar reading abilities and needs. 

Here’s why it’s so important:

 

Targeted Support

Small group instruction allows educators to address specific reading challenges. 

Whether it’s decoding, fluency, comprehension, or vocabulary, teachers can tailor their instruction to meet individual needs when working in smaller groups.

 

Differentiated Learning

The practice of differentiated instruction is a topic by itself, and one that is covered extensively by Sprig. 

Small group instruction is one of the most common ways to provide differentiated instruction to a classroom of students

All students are never at the same point in their reading fluency and comprehension, at the same time.

Small group instruction enables educators to differentiate their teaching. They can provide more support for struggling readers while offering enrichment for advanced readers. 

 

Individualized Feedback 

Educators are always passionate about teaching and prefer to dedicate their time to instruction rather than being overwhelmed with administrative tasks.

In smaller groups, educators can provide more personalized feedback for students. This helps children understand their learning strengths and areas for improvement, fostering a growth mindset. 

 

Increased Engagement

Many states and provinces across North America are implementing evidence-based reading instruction policies. There is enough proof to show that when such instruction is delivered in play-based settings, it helps early learners engage with the lessons and retain the taught concepts.

Smaller settings are less intimidating for some children, leading to increased participation and engagement. This supportive environment is conducive to building confidence.

 

Progress Monitoring

Educators can continuously monitor students’ progress in small groups. As students advance in their reading skills, instruction can be adjusted to align with their development.

In fact, educators can continuously monitor the progress of the whole classroom, that is, each individual student. 

However, by grouping students by knowledge and/or specific skill level, teachers can enhance progress monitoring more efficiently for that specific group of children. 

 

Peer Interaction

Students in small groups can benefit from collaborative learning experiences. They can interact, discuss ideas, and learn from their peers, which adds a social dimension to their education.

Small group instruction encourages peer interaction. Students can learn from each other, ask questions, and engage in discussions, which enhances their understanding and love for reading.

 

The Synergy of Assessment and Small Group Instruction

The Synergy of Assessment and Small Group Instruction

The marriage of assessments and small group instruction creates synergy in early literacy education. 

Using small group instruction is powerful by itself, but when combined with assessments, the two complement each other very well.

Here’s how:

 

Small Group Instruction Includes Flexible Grouping. 

New Assessment Data Can Inform Groupings.

Unlike fixed small groups, flexible grouping allows students to work with various peers based on their current and evolving learning strengths, needs and interests. 

Educators can create groups for specific activities or projects, based on the learning needs of the students. Grouping can be constantly updated based on incoming assessment data specific for each child.

 

Small Group Instruction Allows for Scaffolding. 

Assessment Data on The Foundational Skill Acquisition Trajectory Can Inform Groupings.

In this approach, students receive unique work based on their readiness and interests. 

All students cover the same essential skills or concepts but are adjusted in complexity or content.

Sometimes, students within a given time frame may exhibit varying learning paces. To prevent any child from falling behind, it’s crucial to provide explicit instruction to all groups albeit with various degrees of difficulty, rather than avoiding teaching one concept to all students at one time.  

In these situations, it’s beneficial to create distinct groups to ensure that all students stay on track with their learning.

 

Small Group Instruction Allows for Group Efficiency

Teachers Can Dictate Terms Using Incoming Assessment Data.

Of course, small group instruction is not the only means of differentiated instruction. 

For example, there is also the idea of a flipped classroom, or learning contracts, where students are expected to engage with the learning materials and be accountable for learning certain concepts respectively.

There is a major issue here. Which is, that in early literacy, time is of the essence! 

Teachers need to dictate terms, teach explicitly, cover all the foundational skills before a certain point. So small group instruction is one of the most efficient ways where teachers can devise a strategy to differentiate instruction for as many students as possible, while still maintaining the option of creating further smaller groups if needed.

 

The Wonders of Small Group Instruction

The Wonders of Small Group Instruction

In conclusion, early literacy assessments are the first step in understanding a child’s reading abilities, but small group instruction is the bridge that helps them cross over from emergent readers to proficient readers.

It’s a blessing for struggling readers, and joyful for advanced readers.

Small group instruction is often preferred because it combines personalization, collaboration, efficiency, and adaptability to create a learning experience that can significantly benefit students.

When educators combine the power of assessments with the personalized support of small group instruction, they create a learning environment that nurtures confident, capable, and enthusiastic young readers.

30 More Compelling Statistics in Early Learning (Early Literacy Edition)

This article is the second installment in our series on early literacy statistics. If you haven’t already explored the first edition, it is strongly recommended you do so, as it features 30 figures that shed light on the state of early learning in North America.

In the last edition, while many of the data points were pertaining to early literacy, some of them also covered early childhood education more broadly. 

In this article, full concentration is exclusively placed on early literacy, delving deeper into the subject matter.

This article both reinforces key points from the previous edition and introduces new ones. 

Without further delay, let’s delve into these 30 compelling statistics of early literacy. Each  grouping of similar statistics, is followed by a key insight. 

Compelling Early Literacy Stats

 

Early Literacy Statistics 1 to 5 (The Critical Window)

The American Institute of Research conducted a study analyzing longitudinal research to discern attributes of reading skill profiles. 

It extended previous early reading growth investigations to yield empirical evidence applicable on a national scale. 

The results obtained through growth mixture modeling point to five distinct groups of students with specific patterns of early reading development.

They are as follows, and they comprise of the first 5 statistics.

1. High Performers (5 percent of students represent high reading skills at the beginning of kindergarten and maintaining high reading skills).

2. Early Boosters (20 percent of students represent rapid growth between kindergarten and grade 1).

3. Average Learners (52 percent of students represent average initial reading skills and average reading growth).

4. Steady but Slow Learners (20 percent of students represent average initial reading skills but slow reading growth between kindergarten and grade 1).

5. Struggling Learners (3 percent of students represent low initial reading skills and inadequate reading growth during the first 4 years of school).

 

Key Insight: The time spanning from kindergarten to Grade 1 proves to be exceptionally vital, where early literacy development can either gain momentum, decelerate, or maintain an average pace. Irrespective of prior learning achievements, this period offers an extraordinary opportunity to effect lasting positive changes in a child’s educational journey.

 

Early Literacy Statistics 6 to 10 (The Grade 1 Turning Point)

6. There is strong evidence indicating that poor readers at the end of grade one have an 88% likelihood of being well below grade level after three additional years of regular instruction.

7. 80% of students that are struggling to read at the end of 1st grade continue to be struggling readers in fourth grade.

8. 90% of children with reading difficulties will achieve grade level in reading if they get help in the Grade 1.

9. 75% of children whose help is delayed to age 9 or later continue to struggle throughout their school years.

10. 74% of children who are behind in third grade will never catch up.

 

Key insight: Identifying the need for early reading intervention must be done before the conclusion of Grade 1, offering the best chance to equip struggling learners with essential reading skills. In more challenging circumstances, support may still prove beneficial up to Grade 2. However, delaying intervention until Grade 3 drastically diminishes the likelihood of positively altering a young student’s reading trajectory.

 

Early Literacy Statistics 11 to 13 (Needing Support Frameworks)

A survey encompassing more than 400 educators and administrators nationwide aimed to provide deeper insights into their perspectives on and adoption of Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS).

The findings affirmed that numerous schools are indeed delving into student support frameworks to pinpoint, prioritize, and provide evidence-based interventions for their students. The following numbers stand out:

11. Only 28% of educators say they are far along in implementing a tiered support framework.

12. 52% of respondents rely on spreadsheets to track interventions.

13. Despite 78% of educators saying they believe it’s important to track tiered interventions, only 30% say they are tracking interventions effectively today.

 

Key Insight: Although there is a clearly identified need for adopting a comprehensive evidence-based tiered support framework (such as the MTSS) for progress monitoring and assessing interventions for all students, widespread adoption is still on the horizon. This indicates an opportunity for their further refinement and enhancement in early literacy. 

 

Early Literacy Statistics 14 to 18 (Lack of Readiness Very Early On )

14. By the age of 2, children who are ready to regularly display greater language comprehension, larger vocabularies, and higher cognitive skills than their peers.

15. Every year 40% of children walk into kindergarten one-to-three years behind grade level.

 

The Canadian Children’s Literacy Foundation and the Canadian Child Care Federation initiated a national survey targeting early childhood educators (ECEs) to gain insights into the current role of early literacy and learning in Canadian childcare settings. 

The objective was to pinpoint potential gaps and opportunities within this context. The survey reached approximately 8,500 members, resulting in 1,108 responses from ECEs who shared their professional experiences. The ensuing statistics offer intriguing perspectives.

16. Only 38% report feeling confident in supporting the early literacy development of the children they work with. 

17. Only 35% report feeling confident in identifying a concern with a child’s language development.

18. Fewer than 50% of respondents engage the children they work with in early literacy activities every day, while over 35 % do so once a month or less frequently.

 

Key Insight: Early literacy disparities emerge in the early stages of a child’s life, primarily due to differing circumstances and opportunities. Consequently, children arrive at kindergarten with varying levels of readiness. This creates a crucial window of opportunity during preschool to address and bridge these disparities. However, early childhood educators often lack the confidence and knowledge required to effectively assess, intervene, and tackle early literacy issues.

 

Early Literacy Statistics 19 and 20 (Interventions Do Work)

19. Wallace Foundation’s The School Administration Manager Projects, highly recommends that principals spend 50% or more of their time related to instructional work, including assessment that informs teaching and learning. 

20. Of the children who receive intervention in kindergarten and continue to require remedial support in first grade, 58% perform at average levels on all reading achievement measures by the end of first, second, and third grades.

 

Key Insight: Early literacy interventions, especially when applied at the right time,have proven to work. There must be sufficient planning at the administrative level to ensure the implementation of diagnostic assessments and progress monitoring,thereby facilitating targeted support for students.

 

Early Literacy Statistics 21 to 23 (Addressing the Root Issue)

21. Meta-analysis of close to 75,000 studies revealed that early literacy interventions are effective and instruction in language, phonological awareness, and decoding increases the likelihood of success in reading. 

22. For the first time, more than half of the elementary teacher education programs have adopted tenets of the Science of Reading in their curriculum.

23. High-quality tier 1 classroom instruction using an evidence-based, scientifically researched core curriculum meets the needs of about 80 to 90% of students.

 

Key Insight: Interventions are crucial, but they also emphasize the importance of enhancing core instruction to minimize the need for timely interventions. There’s a shift in the way educators are being trained in reading instruction. Foundational reading skills require explicit teaching and assessment, and evidence already suggests that this approach meets the needs of a significant portion of students in the classroom.

 

Early Literacy Statistics 24 to 26 (Resources Being The Equity Leveler)

Waterford.org combines learning science, mentorship, and technology to create family and community partnerships that provide access, excellence, and equity in early education for all children. In their article on “Equity vs. Equality in Education,” they present the following key statistics:

24. 60% of the most disadvantaged students come from under-resourced homes or communities.

25. 62% of schools in high-poverty areas report that it is challenging to retain high-quality teachers.

26. While 97% of teachers acknowledge the importance of equity, a significant number remain unsure about the most effective ways to promote it in their classrooms.

 

Key Insight: Due to limited budgets in their families or schools, students in high-poverty areas often lack equitable resources, making it challenging to provide for their educational needs. Under-resourced communities struggle to retain impactful educators who play a vital role in their students’ lives. It’s not just about retaining teachers; it’s also crucial to empower them with effective resources that benefit all students in their classrooms.

 

Early Literacy Statistics 27 to 30 (Need for Educator Support)

27. On average, a $1,000 decrease in per-pupil spending leads to a 3.9 percent of a standard deviation reduction in average test scores for math and reading.

 

The Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit, is dedicated to conducting comprehensive, nonpartisan research aimed at enhancing policy and governance on local, national, and global scales. A brief from the Brookings Institute’s Center for Universal Education offers insights into a global catalog of educational innovations. It is part of a series of snapshots on Leapfrogging in Education and reveals the following eye-opening statistics:

28. In a survey where Ed-Tech Innovations can select multiple goals, 84% of ed-tech innovations focus on improving students’ skills, whether cognitive or socioemotional, while 23% focus on improving teaching.

29. On supporting the learning process, 67% of Ed-Tech innovations focus on playful, hands-on learning, whereas 25% of them focus on tools to unburden teachers. 

30. Literacy is the most common skill targeted by technology innovations, at 61%.

 

Key Insight: Much emphasis is placed on leveraging technological innovations to address literacy, which is certainly appropriate given the other statistics presented in this article. However, it’s important to note that the majority of these innovations are geared toward helping students directly, rather than supporting educators in teaching these students effectively.

 

What These Early Literacy Statistics Tell Us

What These Early Literacy Statistics Tell Us 

In conclusion, this exploration of early literacy statistics  has unveiled several key insights that shed light on the complexities and opportunities surrounding early literacy. 

Following these key insights, the following scenario emerges: 

There exists a crucial window for timely intervention. Within this timeframe, there is a pivotal juncture at which intervention should be implemented. 

Schools are in the initial stages of mastering tiered support systems to identify those in need of intervention. 

The root cause of the significant disparities requiring intervention in the first place is the lack of equitable resources even before a child starts school. 

While interventions have proven effective, this system must be fine-tuned for incoming students. 

Part of this fine-tuning process includes reducing dependency on  interventions, which can be achieved via strengthening  core instruction.

While plenty of solutions exist to help students directly, teachers should also be equipped with resources to improve early literacy. The availability and use of these resources constitute the key to leveling the playing field.