If secondary schools are to meet the academic instructional needs of each student, there are several key elements that must be in place. These essentials include (a) supportive and actively involved school leaders, (b) formal and informal assessments that guide the learning of students and teachers, (c) a research-based professional development program, (d) a comprehensive plan for strategic and accelerated intervention, and (e) highly skilled teachers in every content area that model and provide explicit instruction to improve comprehension. Although the task can appear to be overwhelming at first, a collaborative effort of administrators, faculty, and other key individuals can achieve a successful adolescent literacy program that will lead to student success.
Literacy Leadership Team: Questions to Consider
Begin the journey to literacy improvement by discussing the following questions:
- How has your leadership supported literacy efforts at your school? Do all your teachers view literacy as an integral part of the academic program? What structures and resources have you put in place to encourage literacy for all?
- What do your assessment scores reveal about your school’s literacy practices? How is data being used to guide your school improvement plan? Do teachers have access to the data and use it to guide their instructional practices?
- What do you consider the key elements of your school’s professional development plan? How do data and student literacy needs guide the development of the plan? Does your school structure support professional development by allowing time for professional conversations, for examining student work, and for learning new literacy strategies?
- Are your content-area teachers skilled at integrating literacy strategies into their daily lessons? What training have you provided for your teachers so they can be highly effective at delivering instruction in reading in their content areas? Are your struggling students being taught by your most effective teachers?
- What support does your school provide for students who are below grade level in reading? Does your schedule provide these students with additional, not pullout, time to improve their skills? Do your teachers use instructional strategies that support struggling students as they read textbooks and other content-area material?
|Area of Focus||Guiding Questions||Action Required|
|Leadership and School Structure|
|1. How will the Literacy Leadership Team (LLT) encourage staff support of a schoolwide literacy initiative?|
|2. Will schedule changes be required to support additional time for reading, intervention, and professional development?|
|3. How will the literacy focus become a major component of the school improvement plan?|
|4. What steps/activities will the LLT need to develop to ensure collaborative conversations and planning?|
|Strategic Use of Assessment|
|1. Identify formal reading assessments to be used to identify specific reading weaknesses.|
|2. Identify informal assessments to be used for ongoing monitoring of student progress.|
|3. How will school data be analyzed to identify professional development needs of staff?|
|4. How will struggling/striving readers be identified?|
|5. How will the LLT share student literacy data with the staff?|
|6. How often will data meetings be conducted during the year?|
|7. How often will the Teams meet to monitor progress of struggling/striving readers?|
|1. What initial professional development will be planned?|
|2. How will ongoing assessments of student progress identify additional professional development needs?|
|3. How will on-going professional development requirements be identified to improve literacy instructional strategies?|
|4. How will collaborative teaching opportunities such as shared teaching and peer coaching to support literacy instruction be integrated into plan?|
|5. What actions are necessary to create a culture of reflective teaching and self-assessment to support literacy?|
|1. Identify strategies to support effective integration of pre, during, and post reading strategies across the content area classrooms.|
|2. How will teachers effectively support the reading/writing connection?|
|3. Identify supports to effectively integrate technology into literacy instruction.|
|6. How will effective use of small group instructional strategies be supported?|
|7. How will teachers identify and use literacy strategies to support learning of content?|
|1. How will identified individual literacy needs of struggling students be met? Additional class?|
|2. How will specific prescriptive literacy strategies become a vital ingredient of the Individual Literacy Improvement Plan?|
|3. How will content teachers support literacy needs of struggling students within daily instructional strategies?|
|4. Will additional tutoring options be available to support students?|
|5. What additional technology support may be needed to support literacy learning?|
|6. What monitoring structures are required to identify student progress and achievement of benchmarks?|
|7. What schoolwide strategies are in place to expand the reading power of ALL students — struggling to gifted?|
Visit the NASSP website at www.principals.org/literacy .