Three Ways to Implement the Science of Reading with Kareem Weaver
On the All for Literacy podcast, Dr. Liz Brooke, Lexia’s chief learning officer, sits down with literacy advocate and industry leader Kareem Weaver to discuss how to implement the science of reading in classrooms, schools, and districts.
Weaver is co-founder and executive director of FULCRUM-Oakland, which partners with educational institutions to improve reading results for students. He also serves as the Oakland NAACP’s 2nd vice president and chair of its Education Committee, and his advocacy is featured in the upcoming film “The Right to Read.”
In a passionate discussion, Brooke and Weaver wrestle with the idea of literacy as a civil right and the importance of literacy as a foundational skill that shapes a child’s future.
How to Implement the Science of Reading
As an educator, it's important to understand the science of reading but it's even more essential to understand how to implement it in schools and classrooms.
Incorporating evidence-based practices can lead to higher literacy rates among students and a lower likelihood that students will fall behind in other subjects.
But how does someone translate the science of reading into concrete practices? Here are three ways to implement the science of reading as emphasized by Weaver on the All for Literacy podcast.
1. Build literacy goals into the superintendent's plan and evaluation
The first way to implement the science of reading is by focusing on the levers of change in a given institution—the people who have the power to implement new ideas and practices. A great way to begin this process is to have the school board build literacy goals into the superintendent’s work plan and evaluation criteria.
“People focus on what you have them focus on,” Weaver emphasizes, meaning that if superintendents are directly tasked with literacy goals, these important milestones are more likely to be accomplished. Everyone involved may have the best intentions, but without concrete numbers or goals to work toward, well-intentioned plans often get left to the wayside.
Initiate this shift by having the school board ask the superintendent how they plan to address literacy in their institution. And once both sides reach an understanding, the school board can work to supply the superintendent with the resources necessary to reach the predetermined literacy goals.
2. Implement an evidence-based curriculum
The second way to bring the science of reading into schools and classrooms is to implement an evidence-based curriculum. “Curricular choices [can] speak volumes about knowledge, expectations, and approach,” Weaver states in the All for Literacy episode.
When a school system selects a curriculum, it's important to prioritize reports, data, or studies completed on that particular curriculum to determine if they are likely to support literacy goals. Choosing a research-backed strategy is more likely to actualize results versus a program with little to no evaluation.
Similarly, it's imperative to evaluate a new curriculum after a few years of use. Is the curriculum supporting the school’s literacy goals? Is it exceeding or failing to meet expectations? If the chosen curriculum is falling short, it's time to re-evaluate and choose a different direction.
3. Align budget, curriculum, and calendar
The last method Weaver mentions when discussing how to implement the science of reading is to align the school’s budget, curriculum, and calendar. “Who do you think is going to get better results? It’s the teachers who actually have the time to prepare for this stuff consistently every day,” Weaver says.
Choosing an evidence-based curriculum is not enough on its own, teachers and administrators must also have the time, energy, and budget to properly prepare, implement, evaluate, and adjust the chosen curriculum. Certain curricula can only be implemented with a significant amount of prep time. So, administrators must be candid about the requirements of a particular program and ensure it matches the amount of time teachers have available for prep work.
Similarly, students who receive literacy instruction for more than an hour a day are often more likely to reach higher literacy levels than those who only have 10-15 minutes. Thus, an institution’s budget and schedule must support the chosen curriculum to receive the full benefit.
Just how effective is the Science of Reading?
In the All for Literacy episode, Weaver walks readers through three ways to implement the science of reading into their districts, schools, and classrooms.
This critical process includes three steps—building literacy goals into the superintendent’s evaluation, choosing an evidence-based curriculum, and aligning the curriculum with the budget and calendar.
While it takes effort and planning to implement the science of reading, the results speak for themselves. Ninety-five percent of children can be taught to read by the end of first grade when the science of reading is implemented effectively into classroom instruction.
Listen to the full episode today
Listen to Weaver’s All for Literacy episode to hear the full conversation about how to implement the science of reading and raise literacy levels. Dr. Brooke and Weaver also dive into the crucial issues that arise at the intersection of literacy, race, and opportunity—key topics of conversation for educators and leaders today.
Weaver offers educators the preparation they need to bring long-term solutions to their classrooms, schools, and districts when it comes to implementing literacy instruction that actually works. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to learn from Weaver, one of the country’s leading literacy specialists and advocates.
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