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Step Up to Writing®
by Dr. Stephanie Stollar on Jun 24, 2021
Learn More About Acadience
Due to learning loss from pandemic-related school closures, the next beginning-of-year universal screening assessments will likely identify a higher-than-usual number of students as at risk. Although schools typically support students unlikely to be skilled
readers at the end of the year by providing small-group instruction outside the general-education classroom, the increased number of students projected to need instructional support next academic year may well surpass the capacity of any functional
intervention system. Rather than using pull-out reading intervention, schools can accommodate the uptick in at-risk students by leveraging universal screening data to align with learning loss and improve the effectiveness of classroom reading instruction
With this in mind, an important beginning-of-year question will be: How can we maximize classroom reading instruction to benefit all students?
More specific questions for grade-level team planning include:
Next, we’ll take a look at how grade-level teams at two schools with different beginning-of-year screening results can use universal screening data to answer these questions.
At the beginning of last academic year, universal screening data indicated that 70% of grade 1 students at Acorn were unlikely to be skilled readers at the end of the year unless they received instructional support.
The grade-level team scheduled all grade 1 teachers to teach reading for 120 minutes at the same time each day, which allowed staff to form small groups focused on the next skill that each student needed to learn. Teachers dedicated 20 to 30 minutes
to whole-group instruction, working on content knowledge, vocabulary, and listening comprehension through intentional discussion and reading aloud, then spent the rest of the time cycling through small groups to teach phonemic awareness, decoding,
spelling, reading fluency, and reading comprehension. Even before collecting diagnostic data, teachers used patterns of student performance on universal screening data to form the following groups:
At the beginning of last academic year, universal screening data indicated that 15% of grade 1 students at Oak were at risk.
Like their counterparts at Acorn, the grade 1 team at Oak had 120 minutes for classroom reading instruction that included discussion and reading aloud to support building content knowledge, vocabulary, and listening comprehension. Because fewer
students were at risk, the Oak teachers presented a whole-group phonics lesson and used small-group time to differentiate the level and amount of reading connected text, spelling, and fluency building. The small number of students struggling with
phonemic awareness and phonics received an additional intervention at another time that involved pre-teaching and re-teaching the skill taught in the whole-group phonics lesson.
The actions of these two grade-level teams serve as examples of how to glean information about specific skill deficits from universal screening data, then maximize every minute of classroom reading instruction to turn learning loss into targeted action.
When classroom reading instruction is carefully analyzed for alignment to student needs, it can reduce risk, free up resources for intervention, and increase reading outcomes—as Snow, Burns, and Griffin noted in 1998, “Quality classroom
instruction in kindergarten and the primary grades is the single best weapon against reading failure.” (p. 343).
Dr. Stephanie Stollar is the founder of Stephanie Stollar Consulting LLC and the creator of The Reading Science Academy.
Dr. Stollar is the former vice president for professional learning at Acadience Learning Inc. She is an adjunct professor in the online reading science program at Mount St. Joseph University, and a founding member of a national alliance for supporting reading science in higher education. Dr. Stollar has worked as an educational consultant, a school psychologist, and an assistant professor in the school psychology program at the University of South Florida, and has provided professional development for teachers for the past 25 years. Dr. Stollar is a co-author of Acadience®
Reading K–6, Acadience® Reading Survey, and Acadience® Reading Diagnostic. She has conducted research in the areas of assessment, early intervention, and collaborative problem solving. As a member of the board for the Innovations in Education Consortium, she collaboratively plans the annual MTSS Innovations in Education Conference.
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