Comprehensive Literacy Programs

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There are many aspects that make up a high quality school-wide or district-wide literacy program. At the heart of any literacy program needs to be student motivation, engagement, and achievement. Irvin, Meltzer, and Dukes (2017) state, “An effective plan requires the skillful use of data about student performance, literacy needs and expectations in the school and community, school capacity to support literacy development, current teaching practices, and effectiveness of the literacy program”. Keeping this in mind, each school district’s literacy plan will look a little different. I reviewed the literacy plan of the St. Louis Park School District in addition to my school district’s plan, the Mounds View School District. While reviewing these literacy plans, it was important for me to keep in mind the key aspects that make a literacy plan effective.

Irvin, Meltzer, and Dukes (2017) describe a comprehensive literacy action plan having five key areas. These areas include literacy interventions for struggling readers and writers, strengthening literacy development across the content areas, building leadership capacity, supporting teachers to improve instruction, building leadership capacity, and school policies, structures, and culture for supporting literacy.

I was very impressed with the detail St. Louis Park School District has in their comprehensive literacy program. Their committee included administrators, coaches, intervention teachers, classroom teachers, and district employees. They had sections for literacy instruction, assessments, intervention, parental involvement, and professional development. It is awesome that teachers get to be a part of creating the literacy plan because they are in the classroom each day and will be the ones implementing this plan. It is important that the literacy plan guides action. “Too many times a plan is developed only to be ‘left on the shelf’” (Irvin, Meltzer, and Dukes, 2017). I like the outline Irvin, Meltzer, and Dukes (2017) give because I think it provides a structure to ensure action. Their categories to base the information around include goal, timeline, action steps, person(s) responsible, resources, and evidence of success.

One thing that surprised me is that I did not know that my school district had a comprehensive literacy action plan. Reading through my school’s action plan was very beneficial because I got to see the bigger picture on why we do the things that we do. I learned about the goals we have set for our students, why the assessments are used, the curriculum, and the instructional model within our schools. Referring back to the literacy plan should be a normal thing for school districts, schools, administrators, and teachers. The areas our district’s literacy plan outlined include instructional leadership at all levels, multi-tiered system of support that is aligned to curriculum and instruction, assessments, job-embedded professional learning, and family and community partnerships. The differences between our district’s plan and the other plan I reviewed was the organization and clarity. Since these plans are accessible to parents and the public, the more organized and clear the better. My school district used a lot of terms and language that were not fully explained if you were not as familiar with the educational world.

Ultimately, when planning a literacy plan for a school and/or school district it is important to identify the purpose and goals of your plan. All work needs to be centered around students and their learning. The plan should encourage integration of literacy and learning across the content areas in addition to a plan to sustain literacy development within the learning community.

Resources

Irvin, J. L., Meltzer, J., & Dukes, M. S. (2017). Taking Action on Adolescent Literacy. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/107034/chapters/Develop-and-Implement-a-Schoolwide-Literacy-Action-Plan.aspx

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