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GRADE LEVEL READING

An Action Framework for School And District Leaders


Š 2010 Foundations, Inc. All rights reserved. Foundations, Inc. Moorestown West Corporate Center 2 Executive Drive, Suite 1 Moorestown, NJ 08057 www.foundationsinc.org GRADE LEVEL READING: An Action Framework for School And District Leaders can be viewed and downloaded at www.foundationsinc.org.


GRADE LEVEL READING

An Action Framework for School And District Leaders


CONTENTS 1 introduction 9 elements 1 0 aim 1 2 attract 1 6 assess 2 0 assemble 2 4 act 31 align 3 3 assist 37 advocate 40 conclusion


INTRODUCTION Reading by the end of 3rd grade is the foundation on which students’ success in school is built. Through 3rd grade, many students are typically still learning to read and a substantial portion of their learning day is focused on developing basic reading skills. After 3rd grade, the focus shifts from learning to read to reading to learn. Research shows that students who are not fully prepared with basic reading skills by the end of 3rd grade—those whom we call “striving readers”—are less likely to progress on track and will lag behind their peers in academic performance. Research also shows that students who continue to struggle with reading after the primary years are more likely to become school dropouts, teen parents, underemployed adults, and at greater risk for involvement in the criminal justice system later in life.

This document lays out a framework for school and district leaders to help students read on grade level by the end of 3rd grade and to stay on track through graduation. The framework recognizes that many different stakeholders—parents, teachers, school boards, community members, and policymakers at all levels—have important roles in ensuring that all children learn to read. But school

and district administrators have the most direct responsibility for organizing and managing the people and resources in the key institution responsible for teaching children to read proficiently. This action framework is based on best practices and our experience with the work that school and district leaders have to do to get all children reading on grade level.

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PARTNERING TO HELP STUDENTS READ BY THE END OF 3RD GRADE

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The Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF), one

Several years into the Making Connections

of the nation’s largest private foundations,

initiative, it became clear that an essential

supports diverse efforts to build better

link was missing. In most sites, there was

futures for millions of children at risk of poor

only limited involvement of the schools

educational, economic, social, and health

and little, if any, attention to instructional

outcomes. One of AECF’s major multi-site

issues. To make that link, AECF’s Making

initiatives is called Making Connections.

Connections engaged Foundations, Inc., with

Launched in 1999, it was designed to

its track record of assisting urban schools,

demonstrate that outcomes for children and

to partner with schools and school districts

families in low-income neighborhoods can

in eight Making Connections cities—Denver,

be changed for the better through building

Des Moines, Indianapolis, Louisville,

the capacity of their neighborhoods and the

Oakland, Providence, San Antonio, and

institutions that serve them.

White Center (in Washington State).

GRADE LEVEL READING: An Action Framework for School And District Leaders


Maintaining its focus on achieving

eight schools to address the goal of 3rd grade

results, AECF charged Foundations, Inc.

reading. AECF then engaged Foundations,

with determining what it would take for

Inc. to assist those schools and districts in

children in these communities to read

implementing the recommendations.

proficiently by the end of 3rd grade. AECF asked Foundations, Inc. to focus its work

This publication grew out of that work. Our

on one elementary school serving a target

partnership with AECF and the eight Making

neighborhood in each of the eight cities.

Connections communities has exclusively

Drawing on evidence-based best practices

focused on making grade level reading—

in literacy teaching and learning, as well

proficient reading by the end of 3rd grade

as wisdom and promising practices from

and then continuing to stay on grade level in

practitioners on the ground, Foundations,

reading—a reality for all students.

Inc. recommended specific strategies for the

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COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH We believe that the set of interrelated and

The strategies we present highlight critical

interdependent elements, and the associated

actions that ensure all children are in

strategies, in the following pages are what

school, ready, and able to learn. We pay

schools and districts can do right now to

attention not only to instruction, but also

enable all children to read on grade level by

to student attendance and health. Our

3rd grade and beyond. Preliminary evidence

approach calls for identifying and addressing

from the eight Making Connections schools

each striving reader’s assets and needs in

with which we work suggests we—and

academics, health, and attendance, bringing

they—are on the right track. In seven of the

together those who teach and nurture each

eight schools, levels of 3rd grade reading

striving reader to determine appropriate

proficiency have improved. Six of the eight

interventions, assess the impact of the

schools have narrowed the gap between

interventions, and adjust the interventions

school and district results, including three

until every striving reader reaches

which have closed that gap and now equal or

proficiency.

surpass district-wide results. The schools still have a long way to go, but school and district

Taken one by one, the elements and strategies

leaders are putting the action framework

in the action framework for grade level

in place to extend and sustain grade level

reading are familiar. Educators will recognize

reading in each of these communities.

them as the logical and right things to do. However, it is rare for schools, especially

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GRADE LEVEL READING: An Action Framework for School And District Leaders


those serving predominantly low-achieving

leaders and their partners to design their

children, to implement any one element fully,

own strategies. The strategies we suggest

and even rarer for schools to implement the

include both those we consider to be critical

entire set over a sustained period. Even more

and those that illustrate the actions to

atypical are school districts fully committed

achieve the goal. Such flexibility makes sense

to supporting, sustaining, and bringing the

in that schools and districts which want to

work to scale in all schools.

improve their performance—like striving readers—have different assets and needs.

The innovation in our approach is the

What is essential is adding elements that

guidance it offers school and district

are not yet in place, adjusting strategies that

leaders for implementing fully and well

already exist but are not sufficiently effective,

the entire set of elements and strategies

eliminating practices that distract or interfere

at the school, district, and community

with student success, and reallocating

levels simultaneously. The framework was

resources to support strategies and practices

designed to leave room for schools and

that work in moving all students toward the

districts to determine exactly how they will

goal of grade level reading.

operationalize the elements and strategies. There is also room for school and district

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While our action framework makes a point

enact policy, shift focus, and commit district

of incorporating elements and strategies

resources in support of grade level reading.

that support, enable, or amplify grade

Spreading the elements and strategies

level reading, at its core is effective literacy

district-wide not only puts more children

instruction by qualified teachers. We believe

in more schools on track for grade level

nothing can substitute for that. We also

reading, but also increases the likelihood of

believe there are many standards-based

sustaining the work in schools where it has

curriculum options available to schools

already taken hold.

and districts which can undergird effective literacy instruction. We do not promote

The rest of this action framework catalogues

any particular curriculum over another.

the eight elements and enumerates strategies

However, we are steadfast in our belief that

for each. It is intended to give schools and

any curriculum must be implemented with

districts a concrete idea of what it will take to

fidelity and consistency, and monitored

implement this grade level reading approach

intelligently to ensure that it is benefiting

fully and effectively. While the primary

children.

audience is school and district leaders, other stakeholders including teachers, parents,

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It is not enough to improve literacy

state and local education officials, residents,

instruction, attendance, and health of the

and funders can use this information to

children in one school or a few schools. We

assess what is in place, how well it’s working,

address the action framework to school and

what’s missing, and what else needs to be

district leaders because we believe districts

done to promote grade level reading and

are also central to this work. Districts can

children’s school success.

GRADE LEVEL READING: An Action Framework for School And District Leaders


A WORK IN PROGRESS With help from Foundations, Inc., schools

But we also are aware that even the best

in Making Connections sites are using

thought-out ideas can be improved, and

this action framework to improve the

that every day school leaders and teachers

performance of striving readers. These

around the country are bringing ingenuity

schools’ efforts give us the opportunity to

and creativity to the challenges they face in

test and refine our approach. An earlier

helping students read on grade level. For

draft of this publication yielded enthusiastic

that reason, we consider the set of elements

feedback from school and district leaders in

and strategies in this publication as a “work

the sites. They appreciated the added value of

in progress.� We expect to amend and refine

a comprehensive and coordinated approach

them as the schools and districts with which

that brings together the right people and the

we are working, and others throughout the

right data for individual striving readers, and

nation, find even more effective ways to

develops an aligned set of interventions to

foster student success.

build on strengths and overcome barriers to student achievement.

We welcome your feedback. We would like to learn your views on the strategies in

This feedback coupled with the progress

this publication, your own examples and

in reading among students in Making

ideas about how to help young striving

Connections communities prompted

readers succeed, and your suggestions for

Foundations, Inc. and AECF to share these

other tools and materials that support

ideas more broadly. We are confident that

grade level reading.

the school and district strategies we describe can make a significant difference in turning striving readers into proficient readers.

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ABOUT FOUNDATIONS, INC. Foundations, Inc. is a non-profit organization committed to improving the quality of education and educational opportunities in school, out of school, in families, and in communities, across the day and across the year, transforming the best in research and theory into the best in practice and partnerships for children’s success. We got our start in 1992 operating afterschool programs in low-income neighborhoods. We have grown into a capacity-building organization for creating and promoting meaningful learning experiences for children and youth in schools and programs across the country, to which we provide tools, training, and technical assistance. Our staff and consultants bring both academic qualifications and school- and district-based know-how when making assessments and recommendations, and providing hands-on support for improvement. This blend of knowledge and practice distinguishes us and our approach.

Please feel free to contact us at: Grade Level Reading Foundations, Inc. 2 Executive Drive, Suite 1 Moorestown, NJ 08057 Toll-free phone: 888-977-5437 GradeLevelReading@foundationsinc.org www.foundationsinc.org

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GRADE LEVEL READING: An Action Framework for School And District Leaders


ELEMENTS

1 Aim

for high achievement by setting clear targets. Set specific improvement targets for individual students and for groups of students, classes, grades, schools, and the district as a whole.

2 Attract

families and community partners to share in the work. Include organizations and individuals, such as neighborhood residents, who can support striving readers by promoting good health, consistent attendance, and stability at home and in the neighborhood. Partner with families to ensure they understand the approach to grade level reading for the school and for their children, and have the tools they need to support it through their own actions.

3 Assess

—as frequently as necessary—the needs and assets of individual students, groups of students, and schools. Screen first to flag issues, then diagnose specific needs, and design interventions. After intervention, regularly monitor progress in striving readers’ academic skills, attendance, and health. Create user-friendly data systems to track individuals and groups of students in academics, attendance, and health. Assess the needs and assets of teachers and other staff, schools, and districts for moving striving readers to proficiency.

4 Assemble

key data and key people in one place. Review individual students’ needs with those who instruct or interact with the students. Schedule reviews at intervals that allow for intervention, progress monitoring, and adjustment of interventions. Look also at aggregate data to discern group needs.

5 Act

on individual needs and group needs. Ensure that classroom literacy instruction—the core strategy for grade level reading—is undergirded by a standards- based curriculum and is implemented with fidelity and consistency. Identify and use best practices and high-impact instructional interventions for students across classrooms, schools, and the district.

6

Align learning opportunities for students across systems and

educational settings. See the early learning years as a unified educational system and build bridges for children, families, and practitioners between preschool and the early grades. Coordinate and reinforce learning experiences for striving readers before and after school, during the summer, and in school, community, and home settings.

7 Assist

teachers, school leaders, other school and program staff, families, and partners to build their capacity to implement all aspects of this grade level reading approach. Provide adults who work with striving readers the information, training and coaching, supportive supervision and evaluation, materials, and opportunities to collaborate that will support reading proficiency among all students.

8 Advocate

for adequate resources and supportive policies by enhancing public awareness and engagement. Educate families, residents,

business and community leaders, and public officials about the importance of grade level reading and the need for a comprehensive approach to achieving it. Seek changes in policy and systems that will foster implementation and sustain commitment to grade level reading. www.foundationsinc.org

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Aim

for high achievement by setting clear targets. Set

specific improvement targets for individual students and for groups of students, classes, grades, schools, and the district as a whole.

SET DISTRICT-LEVEL TARGETS FOR ATTENDANCE, HEALTH, AND READING ON GRADE LEVEL FOR PRE-K THROUGH 3RD GRADE. District Start by examining data you already have on reading proficiency by school and sub-groups. Include data from earlier grades that can be used to monitor students’ progress toward reading proficiency by 3rd grade. What do these data reveal about reading proficiency among 3rd graders? Are there patterns in the way proficient and striving readers are distributed across the district? What do these data imply about the scope and nature of need for a strategic district-wide approach to grade level reading?

District Confirm that the assessments used by the district test for appropriate content and rigor in measuring grade level reading.

District Set up a process for determining the markers for being on track for grade level reading. Include staff, parents, residents, and community partners. Make sure that everyone who wants to participate has a chance to participate. Use a skilled facilitator who is familiar with the issues and the community to manage the process.

District Define the essential information that will flag current and prospective striving readers and their needs in the areas of attendance, health, and reading. For example, look at chronic absence—missing 10% or more of school for any reason—among all students. Also check whether all students have undergone a developmental screening and have medical insurance and a medical home that manages individual students’ ongoing care.

District Identify, document, and track other factors that put students in your community at risk for becoming striving readers.

District Set targets for attendance, health, and reading progress that will lead to all students reading on level by the end of 3rd grade.

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GRADE LEVEL READING: An Action Framework for School And District Leaders


USE THE TARGETS TO GUIDE DISTRICT-LEVEL DECISIONS. District Collect only essential data that help determine if students are on track for grade level reading. Consider how much of the data the district currently invests in collecting, analyzing, and reporting contributes to a better understanding of student learning and the factors that impact it, such as students’ health and attendance.

District Shape interactions with schools—allocation of resources and support for schools, recognition of schools—around the targets and progress in achieving them. Keep the spotlight on grade level reading as the primary goal.

SET SCHOOL-LEVEL TARGETS. District Collaborate with schools in setting specific targets for schools and subgroups within schools.

School Set targets for reading, health, and attendance by grade and by year for a three- to five-year period that are keyed to the district’s targets. Work backwards from the goal of each student reading on grade level by 3rd grade to determine the school’s reading targets. Use guidance from the district in determining how and when reading proficiency will be measured.

INCORPORATE THE TARGETS IN YOUR DAILY WORK AND COMMUNICATIONS. School Let everyone know what the targets are. Report publicly your schools’ progress on each target. Make results visible—display charts and reports. Refer to the targets and progress often.

School Hold sessions to help staff, families, students, and community members understand the targets, why they are important, and the progress your school is making in reaching them.

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Attract

families and community partners to share in the work. Include

organizations and individuals, such as neighborhood residents, who can support striving readers by promoting good health, consistent attendance, and stability at home and in the neighborhood. Partner with families to ensure they understand the approach to grade level reading for the school and for their children, and have the tools they need to support it through their own actions.

EDUCATE FAMILIES AND COMMUNITY PARTNERS ON THE IMPORTANCE OF READING PROFICIENCY, HOW THE DISTRICT’S STRATEGIC APPROACH TO GRADE LEVEL READING CAN ACHIEVE IT, AND HOW THEY CAN HELP. District Publicize the importance of grade level reading through the district’s communications channels. Make the case for grade level reading and your approach to families, community, and staff through regular updates at school board meetings, in district newsletters, and on the district’s web site.

District Publish your district’s grade level reading strategies and information on how partners—agencies, individuals, families—can help. For example, use the district’s web site and partner with the local newspaper to keep families and the general public informed about opportunities for service or support.

District Work collaboratively with the local public health department, department of social services, and non-governmental service agencies toward improving students’ health status.

District Reach out to residents and community groups. Formalize ways for residents and members of the broader community to collaborate with the district and individual schools on the grade level reading approach. For example, partner with a community-based organization to run a grade level reading fair that showcases ways to support reading proficiency and find stakeholders interested in supporting these efforts. Recruit outreach counselors (paid or volunteer) to support improved student attendance at the schools. Develop policies and implement procedures for volunteers who work with students to assure student safety.

District Keep school-based staff informed about district outreach to the community for support for grade level reading. Prepare school staff to respond appropriately, including knowing how to route inquiries or offers of help that go beyond the school’s scope.

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GRADE LEVEL READING: An Action Framework for School And District Leaders


DEVELOP STRATEGIC RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE LOCAL HEALTHCARE COMMUNITY TO INCREASE ACCESS TO CARE FOR LOW-INCOME CHILDREN. District Work with the healthcare community to identify or add resources for counseling and therapy, in school or community settings, for children with potential or moderate delays who might not qualify for school-based services or who might have to wait months for service otherwise.

School Work with community partners and healthcare providers to address the social and emotional issues diagnosed by developmental screenings.

School Provide information for parents on health and wellness through health fairs, neighborhood events, Parents as Teachers, Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY), and similar programs, community outreach, and one-on-one contacts with teachers, school nurses, and outreach specialists.

ENGAGE STUDENTS, FAMILIES, AND COMMUNITY PARTNERS IN ESTABLISHING A CULTURE OF SCHOOL ATTENDANCE. District Ensure that families understand why attendance matters starting as early as pre-K and kindergarten, and suggest specific strategies to use at home for fostering regular attendance.

District Enlist the support of community agencies in educating parents, reaching out, and offering resources to improve attendance.

District Establish district-wide incentive and recognition programs for schools with best and most improved annual attendance records. Announce results for all schools and publicly congratulate the winners. Share the winners’ strategies with all schools.

School Offer school-wide incentives and use them consistently to encourage all students and families to improve attendance. www.foundationsinc.org

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School Reach out to the families of students with problematic attendance to learn about the barriers they face and how the school and community agencies might help.

School Partner with other families to get children to school.

BE EXPLICIT ABOUT THE STANDARDS FOR OUT-OF-SCHOOL TIME (OST) PROGRAMMING FOR STRIVING READERS AND INSIST THAT PARTNERS MEET THOSE STANDARDS. District Recruit OST partners who can provide high quality, literacy-rich, engaging, and interactive activities for striving readers in an OST setting. Create memoranda of understanding that spell out roles and responsibilities clearly. Specify how coordination and communication will take place, and build in checkpoints for discussing how things are going and making needed adjustments.

District Make school space available to OST partners during the summer and school vacations, or actively seek other venues for OST programming. For example, partner with the local public library to provide access to computers where striving readers can get skill building and enrichment, both online and off line.

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GRADE LEVEL READING: An Action Framework for School And District Leaders


DESIGN CULTURALLY SENSITIVE OPPORTUNITIES FOR FAMILIES AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS TO JOIN WITH THE SCHOOL IN SUPPORTING STRIVING READERS. District Structure opportunities and develop tools that will make it easier for parents to engage with the school in support of striving readers.

School Involve families in ways that work for families. Schedule meetings at times parents can attend. Provide interpreters or make presentations in multiple languages, if needed. Consider making home visits or arranging for meetings elsewhere in the community.

School Listen to parents. They are experts on their own children. Ask them about their children’s strengths, interests, and accomplishments at home and in other settings.

SEEK OUT INDIVIDUALS, GROUPS, AND ORGANIZATIONS FROM THE COMMUNITY TO SUPPORT STRIVING READERS AND THEIR FAMILIES. School Enlist residents in promoting the grade level reading approach and in working with families. For example, deploy trained residents, known as promotoras in some communities, to contact families with information about health and chronic absenteeism, and to provide individualized support for accessing school and community resources.

School Formalize and structure the work of partners. For example, in collaboration with partners, set up regular communication times and procedures, plan for coordination, and determine how partnership activities will be supervised. Consider creating a formal memorandum of understanding with partners for their work in support of the school’s students and their families.

School Use best practices in working with volunteers. For example, write job descriptions, establish thorough intake and screening procedures, provide training and supervision, and make a point of thanking volunteers publicly. www.foundationsinc.org

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Assess

—as frequently as necessary—the

needs and assets of individual students, groups of students, and schools. Screen first to flag issues, then diagnose specific needs, and design interventions. After intervention, regularly monitor progress in striving readers’ academic skills, attendance, and health. Create user-friendly data systems to track individuals and groups of students in academics, attendance, and health. Assess the needs and assets of teachers and other staff, schools, and districts for moving striving readers to proficiency.

COLLECT DATA ON HOW WELL SCHOOLS ARE DOING IN SUPPORTING GRADE LEVEL READING. District Develop or enhance data systems that enable schools to collect and analyze data on individual students and groups of students over time.

District Assess how well schools are already implementing the district’s grade level reading approach and how well each strategy is working. At a minimum, take a one-day initial look and listen as each school begins to adopt grade level reading strategies. Examine how the school provides literacy instruction, identify the school’s assets and needs, and make specific recommendations about needed improvements.

District Consider engaging principals and literacy leaders in assessing each other’s schools—if not in the initial assessment, then in subsequent reviews of their implementation of the district’s grade level reading approach. Cluster schools for this purpose by geographic proximity, common characteristics, or any other way that makes sense. Include a district representative on the team. Provide a template and writing help for the school assessments.

District Specify in a written report the concrete ways that each school can make needed improvements. This report should include a brief account of how the school currently addresses each element of the district’s grade level reading approach as context for the recommendations. Wherever possible, include suggestions for addressing needs by building on the school’s strengths.

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GRADE LEVEL READING: An Action Framework for School And District Leaders


District Engage with the school leadership and staff in a frank dialogue about the report and its recommendations. Discuss the match between the assessors’ and the school’s perceptions of the school’s strengths and needs, the need for any further data to clarify points of disagreement, the appropriateness and feasibility of the recommendations, and the priority and costs for implementing them in a timely manner.

District Repeat the school assessment annually to check progress. Conduct a comprehensive assessment annually where warranted or alternate a comprehensive assessment one year with a more targeted assessment the next year that focuses on how well the comprehensive assessment’s recommendations are being implemented.

DEVELOP DATA SYSTEMS AND USE TECHNOLOGY TO SUPPORT THE COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS OF DATA ON ACADEMICS, ATTENDANCE, AND HEALTH. District Develop data systems that enable schools and the district to store and analyze the data they need on students’ academic achievement, attendance, and health at the individual level and aggregated in various ways (for example, by gender, ethnic group, grade, status as a striving reader). Ensure that the data system allows absences to be tracked electronically.

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District Institutionalize and support a district-wide system for collecting health data at all schools. Develop organizational capacity to track outcomes related to health targets at regular intervals. Partner with community health providers to obtain and update the data.

District Adopt and use technology to share information among administrators, teachers, other staff, and parents about which students are struggling the most with academics or with attendance. For example, use data dashboards or other computer-generated reports for daily updates and announcements about concerns and interventions.

COLLECT DATA TO IDENTIFY INDIVIDUAL STRIVING READERS AND THEIR INDIVIDUAL NEEDS. District Assign district-level staff and use the district’s data system to help schools with collection and analysis of data about individual students.

District Obtain parents’ approval for sharing information on their children’s health and academic progress with relevant providers. Help parents understand how sharing this information can improve services for their children.

District Foster institutional relationships and establish procedures that make it expedient for private care physicians, Head Start programs, and other providers to forward the results of incoming students’ developmental screening, ideally when they enroll.

District Standardize enrollment and registration forms district-wide to include information about students’ health insurance, medical home, and primary care physician. Photocopy and attach a copy of the health insurance card.

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GRADE LEVEL READING: An Action Framework for School And District Leaders


School Identify appropriate assessments for students. Use formative assessments, including district-made benchmark tests and commercially-available tests such as Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA), or DRA2, in addition to teacher-made tests and other checks on student needs and progress. Focus reading assessments on comprehension, not just fluency. Select assessments that provide specific diagnostic information about students’ learning needs.

School Use trained assessors and spot check that assessors administer the assessments uniformly so they will generate valid and comparable results.

School Administer individualized evaluations for students whose screening results or other clues indicate a potential need. Once the specific needs of striving readers are identified and corresponding interventions are applied, monitor progress as often as appropriate—typically at least every six weeks.

School Create an individualized reading success plan that includes the pertinent academic, health, attendance, and family data for every striving reader. Design the reading success plan template with enough room to record the results of multiple assessments and administrations, conclusions about student needs, specific interventions to be implemented, outcomes of the interventions when they are implemented, and additional interventions and follow-ups. Also make sure the reading success plan template uses terminology that professionals from diverse disciplines and parents can understand.

School Arrange for entry of data into individualized reading success plans. While it may be more cost-effective for support staff, paraprofessionals, or graduate students to enter the data, teachers learn a lot about individual students’ performance and needs when they enter the data themselves.

School Develop a plan for storage and security of the individualized reading success plans that also offers easy access for authorized users.

AGGREGATE DATA ON STRIVING READERS TO DISCERN PATTERNS AND NEEDS FOR PROGRAMMATIC CHANGES OR INTERVENTIONS. School Aggregate data on attendance, health, and reading at the classroom, grade, and school levels.

School Conduct action research to gauge the impact of interventions at the classroom, grade, subgroup, and school levels. Use the results of these assessments to help adjust classroom and school interventions as needed.

School Cross-tabulate data on striving readers to identify students with multiple needs and risk factors.

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Assemble

key data and key people in one place.

Review individual students’ needs with those who instruct or interact with the students. Schedule reviews at intervals that allow for intervention, progress monitoring, and adjustment of interventions. Look also at aggregate data to discern group needs.

REVIEW DATA REGULARLY AT THE DISTRICT LEVEL. District Establish regular reviews of data on striving readers at the district level. Model the process for principals and district resource staff.

District Examine aggregate data on striving readers and progress at individual schools and across schools to identify trends. Also pull out and analyze case examples on individuals and groups of striving readers for insights about their needs and corresponding needs for district intervention or programming.

District Calculate and publicly report the levels of chronic absence district-wide, by school, grade, and sub-groups. Include chronic absence, average daily attendance, and truancy data in dashboards and school report cards.

District Analyze over time which interventions schools tend to use and how well the interventions are working. Identify needs for new ideas or professional development for individual staff members or groups of staff.

ANALYZE SCHOOL PERFORMANCE TO DISCERN NEEDS FOR DISTRICT-LEVEL ACTION. District Review school-wide assessment reports for each school and for clusters of schools to ascertain strengths and needs of school staff. Look for patterns and trends across schools that may suggest common needs or systemic issues that should be addressed at the district level, through district-wide professional development, for example.

District Identify district-level or district-wide actions that would enable or facilitate work at individual schools, such as strengthening partnerships with city-wide health agencies or OST providers.

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GRADE LEVEL READING: An Action Framework for School And District Leaders


District Look for opportunities to syndicate strengths—by having leaders and teachers who do things well in their respective schools demonstrate for, consult with, and coach others in adapting successful practices within their schools and throughout the district.

District Set a schedule for schools to review and report on their progress toward targets at least three times per year.

District Require schools with high levels of chronic absence to address the issue in their school improvement plans.

District Encourage community and public agencies to target their resources to schools with high numbers of striving readers and high levels of chronic absence. These resources might include pre-K programs, children’s health insurance, school-based health services, food banks, etc.

PLAN FOR SCHOOL-LEVEL IMPLEMENTATION OF RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE SCHOOL ASSESSMENT. District Work with the school to set deadlines for identifying action steps and needed budget. Be prepared to help the school find resources either by seeking new funding or by reallocating funds from current uses.

School Make a plan for implementing the recommendations from the assessment of the school’s current practices related to grade level reading. See if it’s possible to combine the recommendations to gain efficiencies. Prioritize the recommendations in the order of implementation.

School Determine what kind of resources—human, fiscal, and otherwise—and how much of each it will take to implement the recommendations. Assign responsibilities to specific people or groups. Set timelines and identify how to evaluate whether or not the expected improvement has occurred.

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ESTABLISH A STREAMLINED PROCESS FOR REGULAR REVIEW OF INDIVIDUAL STRIVING READERS. District Develop guidelines and tools that identify both the requirements and options for the review of individual and aggregate student data. State expectations for frequency of the reviews and outcomes, and be clear about any non-negotiable expectations and legal issues on information sharing and timelines. Provide templates for agendas, guiding questions for analyzing the data, and forms for note taking, follow-up communications, and so on. Suggest ways to deal with predictable logistical challenges, such as scheduling review sessions and providing coverage, which take into account the range of circumstances across schools district-wide.

School Convene appropriate staff as a reading success review team. The team is responsible for reviewing individual student data at least every six weeks or more frequently as indicated by the interventions that are applied. At a minimum, staff on the team would include the literacy leader, nurse, and classroom teacher(s). The team may also include a principal, psychologist, social worker, special education teacher, English language learning specialist, afterschool program staff, non-academic support personnel, and parents and/or parent advocates.

School Clarify each person’s role and sphere of action in interacting with individual striving readers and their families. Designate which school staff and others have access to the data. Who gets to see which data and who can take which actions are sometimes a practical matter and sometimes a matter of district policy or legal constraints.

School Designate a manager to oversee and facilitate the reading success review team and the overall process. One of the manager’s tasks is ensuring that interventions are implemented in a timely way and with high quality.

School Develop strategies for efficient, yet comprehensive, review of individual students. Allow time for reviews to be as comprehensive as they need to be while ensuring that all striving readers’ profiles can be reviewed and an intervention strategy can be identified within a reasonable timeframe.

School Assign responsibility for implementing interventions for individual students and for following up to ensure that interventions are implemented in a timely way and with quality. Communicate assignments for implementation of interventions and for follow-up.

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GRADE LEVEL READING: An Action Framework for School And District Leaders


ESTABLISH A REGULAR PROCESS FOR REVIEWING DATA BY CLASSROOM, GROUP, GRADE, AND SCHOOL-WIDE. School Schedule regular times for grade groups and pre-K through 3rd grade staff to examine aggregate data together.

School Create an attendance data team that regularly reviews patterns of chronic absence by classroom, grade, and sub-population, and identifies students in need of immediate intervention.

SEEK PATTERNS IN AGGREGATE DATA TO DESIGN NEEDED INTERVENTIONS AT THE CLASSROOM, GRADE, AND SCHOOL LEVELS. School Analyze the data at the classroom, grade, and school levels to identify patterns that indicate the need for interventions at the classroom, grade, school, or district levels. Look for patterns across groups of students and for correlations among needs.

School Note needs for staff learning or additional programming or resources. Share information about the trends and needs you discern both within the school and with the district.

School Obtain or redirect resources to accommodate the design and implementation of interventions at the classroom, grade, or school levels. Seek adequate resources for implementing interventions consistently and with fidelity, and for reviewing results and adjusting interventions at scheduled intervals.

LOOP BACK TO CHECK ON HOW THE PROCESS IS WORKING. District Evaluate how schools are doing with the data review process. Find out what the challenges are and what effective innovative strategies or interventions schools have developed. Provide the means for schools to share information about their challenges and successes. Adjust district guidance and requirements in light of what you learn.

School Evaluate how the reading success review team—and grade groups and the crossgrade group—are doing with the review process. Find out what the challenges are and what effective innovative strategies or interventions have emerged. Make changes to overcome or lessen the challenges, and create opportunities for sharing what works among teachers.

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Act

deliberately on individual needs and group needs. Ensure that

classroom literacy instruction—the core strategy for grade level reading—is undergirded by a standards-based curriculum and is implemented with fidelity and consistency. Identify and use best practices and high-impact instructional interventions for students across classrooms, schools, and the district.

ENSURE THAT DISTRICT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES PROMOTE GRADE LEVEL READING AND FACILITATE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DISTRICT’S STRATEGIC GRADE LEVEL READING APPROACH. District Facilitate implementation of each element of the grade level reading approach at schools by identifying challenges or issues, and devising solutions. While anticipating challenges and addressing them proactively are ideal, some challenges will emerge only over time. When faced with seemingly intractable problems, identify manageable pieces and craft practical (and sometimes partial) solutions to impel forward movement. Engage diverse stakeholders in this work, even those who might raise objections or questions.

District Analyze current district-level and state-level policies and procedures to find those that might interfere with grade level reading goals. Respond quickly and decisively to revise policies and practices that act as obstacles. Enact or advocate for policies that support all facets of the grade level reading approach, including establishing systems and procedures for detecting chronic absence.

District Require age-appropriate health education, including wellness and disease prevention, starting in pre-K.

District Obtain the services of a nurse for each school—full-time if possible—to provide direct and indirect services for students, as well as support for families. Indirect services for students may include gathering and interpreting the results of developmental screenings, providing access to screening for students who were not screened prior to school enrollment, managing referrals for developmental evaluations and for interventions, ensuring integration of health data with academic data, and serving on the reading success review team. Support for families may include providing information about causes, prevention, and treatment of common conditions like asthma and assisting with access to health care.

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GRADE LEVEL READING: An Action Framework for School And District Leaders


DIRECT THE ENERGIES OF DISTRICT STAFF TO SUPPORT IMPLEMENTATION OF GRADE LEVEL READING STRATEGY AT SCHOOLS. District Adopt a stance of facilitating support to schools based on their needs for implementing the district’s grade level reading approach. Proactively seek ways to foster implementation.

District Designate district-level leaders—in literacy, assessment, curriculum, instruction, research and evaluation, health, and parent and community engagement—who will be responsible for grade level reading work and who will provide direct support to school staff.

District Prepare for helping schools by compiling information on best practices in the field and what is already working well in district schools, especially those specific interventions that effectively address particular student, classroom, and teacher needs.

District Help schools plan for extensive, ongoing, embedded, differentiated professional development for teachers that is keyed to students’ needs. Design and deliver professional learning for staff that includes a range of individual, small group, and larger group activities such as study groups, opportunities to shadow each other, reflective writing, practice through role playing, and analysis of case examples.

District Compile and share information with school staff about effective technology and software that can support grade level reading. Help staff determine where specific programs might fit—for diagnosing students’ needs or monitoring progress, providing independent practice on specific skills, targeted enrichment, or reading for pleasure, for example. Couple the information with sufficient professional development and support for integrating technology into reading instruction that will enable and encourage teachers to actually use what they learn.

District Identify financial and personnel resources necessary for district-wide implementation. www.foundationsinc.org

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IDENTIFY BEST PRACTICES IN LITERACY AND LANGUAGE LEARNING, PROVIDE THE REQUISITE HUMAN AND MATERIAL RESOURCES, AND HOLD PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE FOR CONSISTENT, HIGH QUALITY IMPLEMENTATION. School Set aside a block of time daily (ideally 90 to 120 minutes or more) for comprehensive literacy instruction. The block includes guided reading, interactive reading, independent reading, and shared reading. Comprehensive literacy instruction also includes writing, as well as speaking and listening.

School Provide explicit instruction on how to read. Use instructional strategies that include explaining the purpose, providing multiple opportunities to practice, checking for understanding and assessing mastery, and re-teaching, reinforcing, or remediating as needed.

School Identify student needs and corresponding interventions. Design new interventions if existing interventions are inadequate or unavailable to address the need.

School Teach literacy in all subjects throughout the school day. School Use a variety of strategies that make students active learners as they read. For example, help students make connections from the text to themselves. Have students ask questions about the text, make predictions, and mark the text as a way to engage them more fully and aid comprehension.

School Use a variety of strategies after students read text. For example, use higherorder questions to ascertain the sense students are making of the text. Have students confirm their predictions and ask questions of each other. Include having students write their responses.

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GRADE LEVEL READING: An Action Framework for School And District Leaders


School Integrate technology into reading instruction. Provide incentives and support for teachers to make full use of the technology and other resources that are available on site.

School Encourage teachers to use technology as a tool in their regular classroom instruction for all students, instead of as a reward or as remediation for just some students. Work toward equitable distribution of resources among teachers and students.

CREATE A PRINT-RICH, CHILD-CENTERED ENVIRONMENT IN EACH CLASSROOM. School Have a variety of books and reading materials available in the classroom for teachers to use with the whole group and small groups, and for students to use in pairs or on their own. Make sure different reading levels, genres, interests, and diverse cultures are represented.

School Design the physical layout of classrooms to foster active student engagement. For example, arrange seating so that students can talk to each other and help each other learn. Organize and store materials so that students can see and access them easily.

School Post information on classroom walls that students can use in their learning. For example, show strategies that good readers and writers use, highfrequency vocabulary, strategies for students to select books for independent reading, a daily agenda for reading activities, and norms or rules for student behavior and decision making during instruction. Also display student work and other student-created materials both to showcase students’ learning and progress, and to serve as models that other students can reference.

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FRAME TIME, ATTENTION, AND RESOURCES AROUND THE GRADE LEVEL READING APPROACH. School Make schedules that support effective literacy instruction, for example, by providing time for the literacy block and by assigning adequate staff to classrooms for guided reading to occur. Facilitate coordination and communication among staff. Talk up grade level reading and the strategies for achieving it. Look for evidence of progress and highlight it. Make implementation of key actions count in personnel reviews.

School Involve every adult in the building in promoting literacy. For example, professional educators, paraprofessionals, office staff, security guards, the nurse, and janitorial staff can all provide consistent corrective feedback to English language learners in appropriate ways, read aloud to students, listen to individual students read, or encourage and welcome parents’ involvement. Make the support of literacy a formal expectation for every staff member.

School Ensure that staff and volunteers have access to the training, materials, and support they need. Have those who implement the key strategies well show others how to do it and assist their colleagues in implementing them, too.

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GRADE LEVEL READING: An Action Framework for School And District Leaders


DEVELOP PROCEDURES FOR DETECTING, RESPONDING TO, AND PREVENTING HEALTH ISSUES AND CHRONIC ABSENCE. District Give schools tools and resources for carrying out procedures to combat chronic absence. For example, provide a script for phone calls home and written notices in relevant languages, in addition to making translation services available for families using rarer languages. Develop clear instructions for school staff to use in triggering action by formal and informal community partners, and provide up-to-date contact information for receptive, informed staff or volunteers who work in those agencies. Provide opportunities for school and agency staff to meet for planning and review of their work with striving readers and their families.

District Develop proactive strategies that will deter or overcome chronic absence. Work with schools to implement those strategies. For example, if chronic absence is a side effect of family issues (such as lack of transportation, childcare, or stability in the home), weigh formal institutional action against less formal options. For example, in some situations, district or school staff may be able to choose whether to make a formal referral to a social worker or to activate non-institutional community supports instead, such as a neighbor waking and helping to dress the children.

School Assign family liaisons, outreach workers, or other staff to assist low-income families in applying for health coverage and acquiring a medical home. Alternatively, partner with a community organization—which could be based in the school—to take on these tasks.

School Conduct developmental screenings for kindergarten and 1st grade students who have not had prior screening.

School Ensure that ongoing developmental interventions from pre-school or earlier (such as occupational therapy, speech/language therapy, psycho-educational assessment, and counseling) continue as long as they are needed after students enter the primary grades.

School Institute vision and hearing screenings for students who have not been tested previously or for whom there is an apparent need. Ensure that recommendations for follow-up are implemented and result in taking appropriate action for the students.

School Develop plans and provide materials so that learning continues when a student must miss school for an extended period, whether due to illness, travel, or other reasons.

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School Include age-appropriate learning units on wellness, disease prevention, nutrition, asthma, and other health topics at each grade level. Use evidencebased programs to teach students how to manage their own chronic conditions, such as Open Airways from the American Lung Association for managing asthma.

School Assign a staff person or volunteer to lead the effort around chronic absence. Engage teachers and other staff in identifying causes and potential remedies for chronic absence.

School Communicate to students and parents the importance of daily attendance. Offer attendance incentives.

School Ensure that action to combat chronic absence is triggered as soon as a problem or risk is detected. Monitor to ensure that follow-up occurs. For example, it is not enough that an attendance clerk places a call to a family, but also that the family receives the message and responds.

School Review and revise communications with families so that they are culturally relevant and effective (and in a language that parents understand). Determine which kinds of materials or assistance, and from whom, are most effective in enabling parents to get children who are chronically absent to school on time every day.

CELEBRATE SUCCESS. School Look and listen for success stories, and have a means for documenting and collecting them.

School Tell success stories. Acknowledge publicly and at regular intervals the progress and success experienced by students, staff, partners, families, and volunteers. Build on success.

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GRADE LEVEL READING: An Action Framework for School And District Leaders


Align

learning opportunities for students across

systems and educational settings. See the early learning years as a unified educational system and build bridges for children, families, and practitioners between preschool and the early grades. Coordinate and reinforce learning experiences for striving readers before and after school, during the summer, and in school, community, and home settings.

TAKE STEPS TO MAKE THE EARLY LEARNING YEARS OF PRE-K THROUGH 3RD GRADE A SEAMLESS EXPERIENCE FOR CHILDREN’S LEARNING AND FAMILY SUPPORTS. District Convene professionals from pre-K through 3rd grade for planning and training. District Bring expert knowledge about child development to bear in planning programs, selecting staff or community partners, and training personnel who will instruct students in these early years and who will provide programming and supports for their families.

District Develop policies, procedures, and the means for sharing data about students between preschool providers and school staff.

District Identify district, school, and community resources for parents to continue their own education, especially focused on the skills and knowledge that their children are expected to master.

MAKE OUT-OF-SCHOOL TIME (OST) PROGRAMMING FOR STRIVING READERS A PRIORITY DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR AND SUMMER. District Identify the resources for strengthening the OST programming (including summer programming) to support grade level reading, in terms of staff training, time, materials, supervision, facilities, and student transportation. Find those resources for schools and/or assist schools in finding them.

District Research and adopt technology that provides summer learning support for striving readers.

District Provide OST partners with guidelines for enrolling, recruiting, and programming for striving readers.

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ALIGN INSTRUCTION BETWEEN SCHOOL DAY AND OST PROGRAMMING. District Encourage OST partners to train and supervise staff and volunteers adequately so they can provide literacy-rich, aligned support for striving readers.

School Invite OST staff to participate with school day staff in relevant training opportunities on literacy and related topics.

School Provide OST staff with information about the school day curriculum and share relevant materials with them. Encourage OST staff to engage students in projectbased learning that is tied to the curriculum and helps develop academic skills. Enlist OST staff in helping students catch up on learning with which they are having difficulty or which they may have missed because of absence.

School Encourage families to use available, high-quality OST to access additional support for their striving readers.

School Include student accomplishments and progress from OST in school day planning for individual striving readers and recognize accomplishments and progress in OST along with those in the school day.

STRUCTURE OPPORTUNITIES FOR COMMUNICATION AND COORDINATION BETWEEN SCHOOL DAY AND OST STAFF OR VOLUNTEERS. District Facilitate coordination between school day and OST staff in addressing the needs of individual striving readers. Make sure that job descriptions for school day and OST staff include expectations and time for coordination. Provide for the communication and coordination to occur during paid work time or be part of paid activities.

District Monitor that the coordination between school day and OST staff takes place regularly, both through supervision of school day teachers and collaboration with OST providers. If regular coordination is not occurring, learn what is preventing it and help staff eliminate any barriers.

School Include OST partners in planning with school day staff. Ensure that OST staff have access to school day teachers to coordinate priorities for skill building for each striving reader. Share homework assignments and classroom activities with OST providers to link learning for students. Develop mechanisms for two-way communication between school day and OST staff.

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GRADE LEVEL READING: An Action Framework for School And District Leaders


Assist

teachers, school leaders, other school and

program staff, families, and partners to build their capacity to implement all aspects of this grade level reading approach. Provide adults who work with striving readers the information, training and coaching, supportive supervision and evaluation, materials, and opportunities to collaborate that will support reading proficiency among all students.

FRAME EXPECTATIONS AND ACCOUNTABILITY FOR RELEVANT DISTRICT AND SCHOOL STAFF’S JOB PERFORMANCE AROUND GRADE LEVEL READING. District Incorporate evidence of the grade level reading approach into supervision. Revise procedures and evaluation materials as needed.

District Make obtaining the knowledge and skills to support grade level reading a required part of the job for teachers and other staff.

ENSURE THAT DISTRICT LEADERS ARE PREPARED TO SUPPORT THE GRADE LEVEL READING APPROACH. District Prepare key district leaders and policy makers to advocate for the grade level reading approach. Expose them to research and data that establish the importance of grade level reading and the efficacy of the grade level reading approach, and give them opportunities to see it in action at schools first-hand.

District Provide key district leaders with talking points about grade level reading and the district’s grade level reading approach.

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FOSTER OPPORTUNITIES FOR COLLEAGUES TO LEARN FROM EACH OTHER ACROSS SCHOOLS AND ACROSS DISTRICTS. District Organize principals into communities of practice—locally within the district and possibly across districts. With the members of those communities of practice, determine how often the groups will meet and whether and when they’ll meet face to face or virtually (through distance technology). Identify what kind of resources they will need and who will provide them. For example, the district might ensure that all principals have computers that are equipped with cameras and access to free conference calling, a subscription to technologies such as Google Groups or ooVoo, and a small budget for meals when the communities of practice meet face to face. Ensure, too, that expectations for participation in communities of practice are articulated and consistently applied, and that policies and schedules facilitate principals’ participation. For example, officially authorize principals’ ability to be away from their buildings for face-to-face meetings and provide coverage, if necessary.

District Create teams of principals and literacy leaders from schools that have already adopted the grade level reading approach, along with district literacy and health specialists, to work with two or three other district schools. Train them to serve as the assessors in each other’s schools. At the outset, the purpose will be to assess the other schools’ needs as they prepare to implement the grade level reading approach. Assign an experienced facilitator to organize the process and write the initial report.

District Encourage staff from clusters of schools implementing the grade level reading approach to look to each other for reflection, suggestions, solutions, and affirmation.

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GRADE LEVEL READING: An Action Framework for School And District Leaders


REFLECT THE PRIORITY OF GRADE LEVEL READING IN DESIGNING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR SCHOOL STAFF. District Help all staff adopt a data-using mentality. Provide training and ongoing support in how to understand and use data to inform practice.

District Equip staff to interact with families and neighborhood residents in culturally sensitive ways. Address the cultural competency of staff through training and structured opportunities to learn about and appreciate the strengths and assets of your students, their families, and the community.

District Train and mentor the school leader to take on instructional leadership, including new ways to supervise that incorporate evidence and support for grade level reading strategies.

District Provide ongoing professional development, coaching, and support to school-based literacy leaders to strengthen their capacity for fostering effective grade level reading practices. Convene them regularly to share strategies, successes, and challenges, and identify trends and issues affecting implementation of the district’s grade level reading approach.

PROVIDE A FULL CONTINUUM OF PROFESSIONAL LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES THAT STAFF NEED TO IMPLEMENT THE GRADE LEVEL READING APPROACH IN INDIVIDUAL SCHOOLS. District Create a toolkit that helps teachers identify developmental delays affecting academic achievement and outlines steps to access screening, evaluation, or intervention services for students who need them.

School Provide at least one literacy coach for pre-K through 3rd grade who works one-on-one with teachers in classrooms using a before/during/after coaching model, and who also develops peer coaching and small group learning opportunities.

School Organize teachers into communities of practice. Provide information about how they function. Assign an experienced, knowledgeable facilitator who can help structure and support each community of practice. Charge these communities of practice with taking on challenges and solving real problems related to the school’s implementation of the district’s grade level reading approach. Avoid the temptation to over-manage these communities; let the teachers really control this work.

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School Help all staff adopt a data-using orientation. Provide training and ongoing support in how to understand and use data to inform practice.

School Train staff on all aspects of the reading success process: administering assessments, entering data, reviewing data, identifying appropriate interventions, carrying them out, monitoring follow-up, and adjusting interventions. Include team building for teachers and others engaged in the reading success process.

School Give teachers and other school staff the tools and training for working productively with families. Promote their cultural competence and provide explicit training and support.

School Train teachers and other staff to look for signs of chronic absence. Provide information about evidence-based practices for combating chronic absence. Encourage school staff to devise and implement local solutions where needed.

School Teach teachers about asthma, juvenile diabetes, ADHD, and other common childhood diseases and conditions so they can identify and respond effectively to related problems in the classroom.

MANAGE SCHOOL-LEVEL INFRASTRUCTURE AND ADMINISTRATIVE AUTHORITY TO FOSTER IMPLEMENTATION OF THE GRADE LEVEL READING APPROACH. School Allocate time for teacher learning during the workday or compensate staff for extra time they need for learning outside of the workday.

School Make the most of faculty meetings, grade group meetings, and professional development days to further the grade level reading approach. To the extent possible, defer or limit professional development that does not relate to grade level reading. Emphasize application—how teachers and other staff will use what they learn.

School Focus supervision and evaluation so they reflect all aspects of the grade level reading approach. Revise evaluation procedures and materials as needed.

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GRADE LEVEL READING: An Action Framework for School And District Leaders


Advocate

for adequate resources and supportive policies

by enhancing public awareness and engagement. Educate families, residents, business and community leaders, and public officials about the importance of grade level reading and the need for a comprehensive approach to achieving it. Seek changes in policy and systems in order to foster implementation and sustain commitment to grade level reading.

BUILD PUBLIC AWARENESS AND POLITICAL WILL FOR SUPPORTING GRADE LEVEL READING. District Secure the school board’s endorsement of the grade level reading approach. Set grade level reading by 3rd grade as a key agenda for the superintendent.

District Point out or precipitate opportunities that will serve as a platform for district leaders and school board members to promote grade level reading in the community and beyond.

District Provide materials for parents in various languages that address the importance of literacy support in the home and give concrete examples of everyday activities that support reading at grade level. Encourage active parents and community members to become part of a speakers’ bureau, ready to give speeches or press talks at a moment’s notice.

District Find one or more visible leaders in the community to champion grade level reading and make it their personal “mission.”

District Brand grade level reading as an expected commitment of every local and state elected official. For example, have the mayor and governor acknowledge the importance of grade level reading in their annual stateof-the-city or state-of-the-state reports. Have businesses and Chambers of Commerce sign on that grade level reading is a priority for their industries and for the city. Provide them with tangible signs of support, such as decals for businesses to put in their window saying “Reading Happens Here” or “My business supports grade level reading.”

District Hold annual accountability meetings for the community at large to report on grade level reading results. Invite parents, community members, business and civic leaders, and local elected officials.

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District Produce an annual health report card for the school board and the broader community on the interface between academics and health.

School Educate school staff, community members, and parents about the importance of health and attendance in improving academic achievement.

ENLIST STATE AND FEDERAL OFFICIALS IN ADOPTING POLICIES THAT SUPPORT GRADE LEVEL READING. District Educate state and federal officials on the benefits of the grade level reading approach and the critical importance of children coming to school healthy and ready to learn. For example, make state and federal officials aware of the need to collect data and develop strategies for overcoming chronic absence.

District Educate stakeholders on best practices related to grade level reading policy. For example, bring to the attention of state departments of education, health, and human services the value of policies that support integration of academics and health at the district and school levels.

District Review state and federal policies that support, hinder, or are silent on support for grade level reading. Work with local and state elected officials to enact legislative changes for greater integration of health and education, or for increasing the availability of student places in high quality pre-K, for example.

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GRADE LEVEL READING: An Action Framework for School And District Leaders


DEVELOP A MEDIA STRATEGY IN SUPPORT OF GRADE LEVEL READING. District Conduct a media campaign. Feature grade level reading on the district web site. Have local celebrities read in the schools, speak out about the importance of reading in their own success, and create billboards showing these same celebrities reading. Seek the support of local businesses and foundations for funding the campaign.

District Enlist local education writers and radio and television reporters to highlight success stories of schools, students, and families as a result of the grade level reading approach.

PUBLICIZE GRADE LEVEL READING THROUGH INFORMATION AND EVENTS. School Cheerlead for the district’s grade level reading approach to staff, students, families, and community. Find opportunities to put the approach in front of people and to publicize successes. Feature the approach prominently on the school’s web site. Display banners outside the school proclaiming the goal of 100% reading proficiency.

School Engage staff, students, families, and community in events that feature grade level reading. Host events like literacy days, with book giveaways and staff modeling reading for parents, for example.

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CONCLUSION This action framework offers school and district leaders a coherent, comprehensive, and aggressive approach to grade level reading. Derived from best practices and practice wisdom, it reflects our own experience assisting schools and districts across the country.

We believe the eight elements apply across the board. For all children to read proficiently by 3rd grade and stay on track in reading beyond 3rd grade, we believe that school and district leaders must:

Aim for high achievement by setting clear targets for schools and for the district as a whole.

Attract family and community partners who will participate in various ways with the work.

Assess the needs and assets of individual students, groups of students, schools, and groups of schools.

Assemble the data from the assessments and key stakeholders, and engage them in analyzing and interpreting the data, and in developing plans for action.

Act deliberately and decisively to provide what individual students, groups of students, schools, and groups of schools need.

Align learning opportunities for students across the school day and year, in school and out of school, and in the transition from pre-school to elementary school.

Assist staff, providers, families, and community partners in building up their capacity so they can do their part in ensuring that all children read.

Advocate with families, the public, and policy makers for the resources and policies to support grade level reading. However, the specific strategies we suggest are meant to be illustrative but not exhaustive. The strategies may vary depending on what school and district leaders and their community partners already do, and may look different in different places. We believe the key is to address all the elements and to take coordinated action.

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GRADE LEVEL READING: An Action Framework for School And District Leaders


We invite your input. What in the action framework works well for you? Under what conditions? What do you think is most important? Not important? What else should the action framework include? What other tools would support the work? Please let us know about your experience and your ideas by contacting us at GradeLevelReading@foundationsinc.org. And thank you for everything you do—and will do now—to help the children in your care read on grade level.


Please feel free to contact us at: Grade Level Reading Foundations, Inc. 2 Executive Drive, Suite 1 Moorestown, NJ 08057 Toll-free phone: 888-977-5437 GradeLevelReading@foundationsinc.org www.foundationsinc.org

Grade Level Reading: An Action Framework for School And District Leaders  

This document lays out a framework for school and district leaders to help students read on grade level by the end of 3rd grade and to stay...