Literacy - Challenge Map
Challenge Map

Student Learning


The Challenge

Many districts are determined to increase the reading proficiency of their students. Early reading (PK to third grade) is a particular focus area, as it is commonly understood that students need to learn to read by third grade so they’ll be ready to “read to learn.” Schools must meet the needs of students at different levels of reading and writing. To achieve this aim, teachers need access to effective ELA curricula and proven interventions for struggling readers, as well as suitable instructional strategies to support all students. They also need ways to help parents support reading at home.

In the Words of District Leaders

Reading is a complex subject. And you really have to have, especially with strugglers, a high level of expertise to really know the right techniques to support the student.

“One of the first problems of practice that we talked about with instructional coaches was teaching the skills of close reading in disciplinary content areas…we’ve got problems with our literacy scores… So how do we teach [disciplinary content area teachers] how to teach literacy in their content areas?”

“I think that is our next frontier to really try to raise the household literacy levels. I think that will have some collateral and community impact as we talk about trying to raise the academic achievement of our readers.”

Ideas from the Field

  • One approach works to ensure that literacy concepts and standards are integrated into social studies, science, and other subject matters so that no matter what is being taught, literacy skills are part of the process and outcome.
  • Incorporating technology for literacy, both with general student populations and English learners, is one emerging trend. Even teachers who were originally resistant to the idea of using technology for literacy came around after seeing how engaged the students became.


Check out the following research-based resources for more information about supporting student literacy:

Literacy topic page – From Digital Promise, this page provides an introduction and key findings from the research on the learning and teaching of reading and writing, including links to additional resources

Reading PK-3 model – From Digital Promise, a research-driven, holistic representation of all of the critical variables that affect how PK-3rd graders learn to read, including proven instructional strategies

Literacy 4-6 model – From Digital Promise, a research-driven, holistic representation of all of the critical variables that affect how 4th-6th graders learn literacy, including proven instructional strategies

Supporting Research-based Personalization for Reading Success – From Digital Promise, this report provides an overview of the learning sciences research in early reading.

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