Supporting a School-Wide Reading Initiative with Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment

How can school leaders support school-wide reading initiatives? Here are keys to leading the way in the areas of reading curriculum, instruction, assessment, and motivation.

Leading the way in reading curriculum

  • Know the criteria for selecting a strong core reading program
  • Make sure that the reading program selected is strong enough to help most kids succeed
  • Know how your program reflects the "five big ideas" in reading
  • Help staff select supplemental and intervention programs that have been shown to work
  • Support staff in developing and using CSI maps (grade-level plans that specify which core, supplemental, and intervention programs will be taught and for how many minutes each day to students at each instructional level)
  • Learn the curriculum along with the teachers

Leading the way in reading assessment

  • Learn as much as you can about the formative assessment used by your school
  • Learn how to collect data in this system and help collect data periodically
  • Learn how to use and interpret these reports to guide instruction
  • Use these reports to guide the regular grade level reading planning meetings
  • Talk to teachers regularly about the data on their students' reading performance, including ideas for refining instruction

Leading the way in reading instruction

  • Conduct classroom walk throughs regularly to gauge the strengths and needs of teachers' reading instruction
  • Talk to teachers about the teaching and learning process, especially related to reading
  • Give lots of affirmation, praise, and encouragement about teachers' reading instruction
  • Provide further training, as needed, to strengthen teachers' reading instruction
  • Support grouping of students for reading lessons
  • Provide adequate time (through the schedule) for reading instruction and work to avoid interruptions of reading lessons
  • Support outcomes over processes; the process is only as good as the outcomes

Leading the way in motivation to read

  • Go to classes and read to students
  • Let students come to your office to read
  • Visit classes for reading groups; praise success
  • Read some of the books that kids are reading and talk to them about what they are reading
  • Motivate students to read through programs like Reading Counts and Battle of the Books
  • Facilitate reading related special events for kids
  • Be a progress monitor periodically
  • Teach a small group once in a while
  • Challenge kids to read to reach a goal
  • Take some of your reading to a class to read for silent reading time (let kids see you read)

Paine, S. (2004). Supporting a School-Wide Reading Initiative by Working with Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Variables. Available at


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"A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom" —

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