Science of Reading: Challenges, Opportunities and Your Checklist for Implementation

Tyler Borek
June 3, 2022

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Science of Reading: Challenges, Opportunities and Your Checklist for Implementation

Just one-third of American fourth and eighth graders read at grade level today.  The latest news from CA paints a bleak picture. Luckily, the extensive research on early literacy development shows that training the developing brain in five key areas leads to literacy mastery.  Those key areas are:

  • Phonological awareness
  • Phonics
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension

They also happen to be the basis for the popular Science of Reading (SoR) protocol, a proven format of early reading instruction that may significantly reduce the literacy gap. SoR is also an area of study that inspires our product development at Literably. We are committed to delivering the diagnostic insight that we see as the basis for any remediation or K8 lesson plan.

But how do schools and districts incorporate an approach as expansive as SoR into classrooms? Where to they start? What obstacles will they face?

Join us on Monday as we discuss those issues more extensively. For our part, we are working tirelessly to address two critical implementation challenges: Heterogenous student needs and limited classroom time.

  • Heterogenous Student Needs: With one teacher assigned to dozens of students with varying starting points and velocities, we need to consider how teachers can effectively assess literacy skills and tailor instruction to diverse needs. We must not only give all students the same learning opportunities, but ensure they can be easily tailored to fit their unique needs. This individualized approach is critical to educational equity.
  • Limited Classroom Time: Educators are asked to be superhuman. Before they can even begin to teach reading, they are expected to assess every child’s literacy skills, analyze the data and plan tailored instruction, arrange for extra support and so much more. Given the impossible time constraints, we must empower teachers with tools to efficiently identify students’ needs.

In theory, these two challenges are easily addressed with SoR-based technology solutions. But implementing technology solutions is not always simple. Poorly designed tools can take weeks away from classroom instruction, fail to address critical elements of SoR or even work against - not with - the classroom teacher. Below is a simple evaluation checklist for any SoR-aligned solution you are considering:

Science of Reading Technology Implementation Checklist

  1. Aligned to most, if not all, of the five pillars of literacy instruction (phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension)
  2. Supports heterogeneous classrooms:
  3. Efficiently identifies skills and skill gaps across most, if not all, SoR pillars
  4. Supports flexible instruction to ensure mastery of new skills
  5. Includes a path for English Learners
  6. Strong evidence (via data or testimonials) that it saves classroom teaching time
  7. Easy to implement - quick to get up and running, strong customer service and support
  8. Ensures consistent assessments results from class to class
  9. Allows for easy sharing of data with specialists, administrators and parents
  10. Provides simple, easy-to-use reports
  11. Prepares next year’s teacher with insight on every child before the school year begins

Have you implemented SoR in your classroom? What other questions do you consider when seeking support?

Tell us on Twitter and Facebook @literably, we'd love to hear from you!