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Scope and Sequence for Literacy Instruction

A scope and sequence provides a list of skills to be taught, a sequence for teaching them, and guidelines for when to expect student mastery.   

Key elements of effective scope and sequence

Schools and districts rely on their state or national standards to guide what they expect children to know about reading, spelling, and writing at each grade. Although there is not a universally accepted scope and sequence for teaching reading, most educators and researchers agree that the science behind learning to read is both the centerpiece and driver for developing a scope and sequence for instruction.        

The scope and sequence used by your school should address the five components of reading (phonological and phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension) and encourage systematic, explicit instruction for learning how to decode words and how to comprehend texts. A scope and sequence should address all the elements of speaking, listening, reading, writing, and spelling that are necessary for most of your learners. It should include opportunities for daily, weekly, and cumulative practice and review across the grades.  

Resources for evaluating your own school’s scope and sequence of instruction   

To see an example of the U.S. national standards for teaching literacy PK-12, see the Common Core State Standards (opens in a new window) (CCSS) and view what’s expected for your child’s grade level. Each state in the U.S. has adopted either the CCSS or their own state standards.   

Examples of phonics scope and sequence

These are not intended to be definitive  — they are offered as examples to consider.  

From our sister project, Reading Universe

This continuum displays the phonological awareness and phonics skills that all students need to master in order to become confident and fluent readers.  

Other examples

Learn more