Building Teacher Content Knowledge in Reading and Literacy
Strong reading and literacy skills are critical to success in school and life. We provide professional development, technical assistance, and resources to assist educators in strengthening literacy support at all levels, from designing statewide literacy programs, to incorporating reading strategies across content areas, to engaging parents in helping their children learn to read. In addition, our research and evaluation team conducts studies of reading programs to measure their effectiveness and expand our knowledge of how best to teach this core subject.
Literacy Strategies for Career and Technical Education
Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes prepare adolescent students for careers ranging from auto repair and nursing to graphic design and polymer science. But many students are not prepared for the highly demanding technical content in CTE texts. What’s more, instructors often have no formal training in building students’ literacy and comprehension skills. To address this issue, our Southeast Comprehensive Center (SECC) partnered with the Mississippi Office of Career and Technical Education to develop a coaching initiative to strengthen literacy support in CTE classes. Through summer institutes, webinars, videos, and on-site visits, teams from CTE centers learned how to integrate research-based literacy strategies aligned with state standards into their content areas. Read more
Southeast Comprehensive Center (SECC): The SECC provides professional development and technical assistance to the state education agencies of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina to build their capacity to support districts and schools in meeting student achievement goals, including achievement in reading and literacy. For example, SECC staff build each state’s capacity to plan and develop comprehensive statewide literacy plans. See “Featured Work” above for additional examples of SECC work in the area of reading and literacy.
Texas Comprehensive Center (TXCC): The TXCC provides professional development and technical assistance to the Texas Education Agency and the state’s 20 regional education service centers to build their capacity to support districts and schools in meeting student achievement goals, including achievement in reading and literacy.
Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southwest: The REL Southwest assists the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas in using data and research evidence to address high-priority education needs in the region. To support student achievement in reading and literacy, the REL Southwest has provided training and resources related to the Teaching Academic Content to English Learners in Middle and Elementary School practice guide from the What Works Clearinghouse.
SRA Imagine It! Today's Open Court Randomized Controlled Trial: SEDL and the University of Wisconsin-Madison are conducting a national, large-scale randomized controlled trial assessing the effectiveness of SRA Imagine It! Today's Open Court, an elementary school reading program. The study, which involves more than 40 schools across multiple districts, uses a multisite cluster randomized trial design to examine whether the program affects achievement outcomes for K–5 students over 2 school years and whether those outcomes vary significantly across students, schools, and districts.
Center for High-Performing Schools: Through this Center, SEDL has built the capacity of district and school leaders and educators to improve teaching and align curriculum, instruction, and assessment to national and state standards. We achieve this through technical assistance, professional development, and conference presentations on the latest literacy research and instructional strategies.
- Lancaster and Georgetown County Public School Systems: SEDL assisted the Lancaster and Georgetown County Public School Systems in South Carolina with implementing the Professional Teaching and Learning Cycle to develop professional learning teams among teachers. The goals were to improve classroom instruction with a focus on literacy and to assist school and district leaders as they developed processes that support teachers engaged in professional learning teams. SEDL staff also conducted an internal evaluation of the project.
- New Mexico Reads to Lead Grant: In New Mexico, SEDL built the capacity of K–3 administrators and teacher leaders to serve as reading and instructional coaches. SEDL consultants provided in-depth professional development to administrators and elementary teachers to build their knowledge and skills in literacy instruction. They also provided school site literacy expertise and support by coaching, mentoring, and modeling evidence-based literacy instruction.
- Pecos Valley Regional Education Cooperative: In New Mexico, SEDL provided support to districts in the Pecos Valley Regional Education Cooperative in implementing the Common Core State Standards for English language arts and math. The work involved developing professional learning communities; aligning curriculum, instruction, and assessment to standards; demonstrating hands-on, engaging lessons using New Mexico–specific text materials, grade-level focus sessions on strategies specific to identified instructional needs as well as time for reflection and debriefing. SEDL consultants provided training, modeling, and peer practice opportunities in selecting and integrating appropriate literacy strategies to help middle and high school students access, comprehend, and apply information from content-area texts.
- Franklin Parish School District: SEDL consultants provided job-embedded professional development to teachers of grades 3−8 with a primary focus on differentiated instruction in literacy.
- St. Helena Parish School District: In Louisiana, SEDL provided interactive hands-on literacy professional development institutes to principals, curriculum coordinators, and teachers. Consultants provided additional support for teachers through ongoing, job-embedded, data-driven professional learning experiences in evidence-based literacy instruction.
Southeast Comprehensive Center (2005–2012): The Southeast Comprehensive Center provided technical assistance and professional development to the state education agencies of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina to build their capacity to improve student academic achievement, including achievement in reading and literacy. Work varied by state. For example, staff provided support for the Louisiana Adolescent Literacy Partnership Project and assissted with the integration of the Mississippi statewide literacy plan into the Career and Technical Education programs.
Texas Comprehensive Center (2005–2012): The Texas Comprehensive Center at SEDL worked with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the state’s 20 education service centers to build staff capacity to improve student academic achievement, including achievement in reading and literacy. For example, staff assisted TEA in revising a home-based program for 3- and 4-year-old migrant children to support migrant families in developing children’s school readiness and language and literacy development.
Louisiana Striving Readers Randomized Controlled Trial: SEDL conducted a 1-year randomized controlled trial of the Voyager Passport Reading Journeys supplemental program for struggling adolescent readers (those reading 2 or more years below grade level) as part of the Louisiana Department of Education's Striving Readers grant. The study involved 10 middle schools in 4 parishes and assessed whether students using the Passport Reading Journeys curriculum demonstrated greater advances in reading outcomes and under what conditions. SEDL submitted a final report to the Louisiana Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education.
Bright Futures Early Reading First Project: SEDL worked with the Madison Parish Public Schools and the Delta Community Action Association-Tallulah Head Start on the Bright Futures Early Reading First project to develop, test, and refine strategies for creating family-friendly preschools that support language and literacy development. The project involved 250 preschoolers from low-income families in Tallulah, Louisiana. SEDL staff worked to increase parental involvement in children's language development and provided training on research-based literacy instruction for young children. In addition, SEDL researchers conducted a quasi-experimental study to evaluate the project's effectiveness. Significant gains were found for children’s receptive vocabulary, letter recognition, and print awareness skills; and instructors showed significant increases in their knowledge of instruction for developing literacy and language.
New Mexico Rural Partnership for Technology: In a subcontract with the Magdalena Municipal School District in New Mexico, SEDL worked with four rural school districts to help elementary language arts teachers use technology to improve students' literacy skills and knowledge of traditional Navajo culture. Staff also used technology to link the schools, provided technical assistance and professional development to help teachers integrate technology into literacy instruction, and modeled parental-involvement activities to support the use of technology in students' homes.
Bernalillo School District: SEDL worked with a Bernalillo, New Mexico, middle school to help them implement the Professional Teaching and Learning Cycle to incorporate literacy strategies into instruction in mathematics, reading, science, and social studies. SEDL staff worked with faculty and administrators to help them align curriculum, instruction, assessments, and state standards with the goal of increasing student achievement.
National Institute for Literacy (NIFL) K–3 Literary Resources Dissemination Evaluation: SEDL conducted an internal evaluation of the NIFL literacy resources being distributed nationally to teachers and families of K–3 students, with a focus on students from families with low literacy skills. The multiyear internal evaluation assessed both the perceived usefulness, relevance, and quality of the materials provided and the distribution channels used.
Louisiana Recovery School District (2007–2008): To support the Louisiana Recovery School District, established to turn around underperforming schools in New Orleans, SEDL developed and held training sessions on literacy and provided on-site assistance. In addition, SEDL researchers conducted an evaluation of the training and assistance initiatives and documented the outcomes.
Reading First Program (2003–2007): SEDL supported the U.S. Department of Education’s Reading First program, which puts proven methods of early reading instruction in classrooms, by developing and maintaining the Reading First Awards Database and publishing the program’s newsletter, Reading First Notebook.
Reading Assessment Database (1996–1999): SEDL developed this online database, which enables teachers to search for preK–3 reading assessments that test the 14 reading skills outlined in the Cognitive Foundations of Learning to Read: A Framework, as part of the Reading Coherence Initiative. This initiative was, in turn, part of the Program for the Improvement of Teaching and Learning, funded under SEDL’s 1996–1999 Regional Educational Laboratory contract.
Regional Educational Laboratory (1996–1999, 2000–2006): SEDL’s regional educational laboratory (REL) contracts included working intensively with 60 sites across the Southwest to assess student reading abilities and improve students’ reading comprehension. We also modeled instructional strategies and provided resources for educators.
Bilingual Education Multifunctional Resource Center (1986–1996): SEDL operated this regional Multifunctional Resource Center, which provided training, technical assistance, and materials to help implement and improve programs for students with limited English proficiency. In 1996, the Multifunctional Resource Center was incorporated into the broader Southeast Comprehensive Assistance Center, which provided support for reading instruction and English language learners—work SEDL continues today through the Southeast and Texas comprehensive centers.
Teaching Reading to Bilingual Children Longitudinal Research Study (1979): This study tracked more than 300 bilingual children in more than 20 schools in five Texas school districts from kindergarten through the third or fourth grade. At the time, the study was one of the nation’s most comprehensive and extensive studies of bilingual students.
Follow Through: Language Development Approach Program (1969–1995): SEDL’s Follow Through program provided comprehensive instructional support to improve the academic success of younger children with limited English proficiency.