States continue to make changes to educator preparation
policies and exam requirements for reading. To help legislators
who may use this report as a reference, SREB updated Table 2 on
page 17 to reflect current state policies as of May 2019.
This research snapshot on retention policies examines what we know about retaining young students, from research on outcomes to how much states spend on additional years of schooling. The brief lists intervention policies in the nine SREB states that require third graders to show reading proficiency to be promoted to fourth grade.
This brief lays out what researchers know about the learning
differences associated with dyslexia, which reading interventions
are effective for individuals with dyslexia, and what good state
policies can mean for children and their families.
In February 2020 the policy table in Appendix C was updated to
reflect policy changes through the 2019 legislative
Researchers estimate that dyslexia affects at least one in 10
people. As defined by
the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia is a
neurobiological learning disability, unrelated to intelligence,
characterized by differences in the way the brain processes
language. These differences result in difficulties
developing skills that are important for reading and
writing. While it cannot be outgrown, individuals with dyslexia
can learn strategies to help them overcome the unique challenges
Last year, while teaching at Lakeside Middle School in Anderson
County, South Carolina, my colleague Keri Compton and I came up
with seven strategies specifically for social studies teachers.
These mini-tasks, based on our Literacy Design Collaborative
(LDC) training, use hands-on activities to build confidence and
help students reflect on their learning while they’re improving
their reading and writing skills. Here they are:
People, Objects, Settings, Engagement and
As a middle grades social studies teacher in Florence School District 1 — an area of South Carolina along I-95 known as the “Corridor of Shame” for its poverty and low-performing students — I have a theory. I believe all students benefit from rigorous, literacy-based classroom instruction, and students from poverty benefit the most. The ability to read and understand complex texts is the best way to distinguish students who are college and career ready from those who are not.
Want to see where good teaching happens? Watch what students are
doing in the classroom. Sounds obvious, maybe, but as SREB senior
vice president Gene Bottoms says, “We observe teachers
and what they’re doing all the time — but we miss a big piece of
the puzzle if we don’t see what the kids are doing as a
So SREB asked My Student Survey to see how our training in
powerful literacy and math teaching tools is paying off in the
The research is clear: Students who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade are much more likely to face poor academic outcomes. For this reason alone, we know it is incredibly important that children learn to read well early in elementary school and continue to build on those reading skills throughout the rest of school.
High-quality instructional materials
that are aligned to state standards can help boost student
achievement and reduce variability in the quality of instruction
across classrooms. In Alignment of Instructional
Materials, SREB examines the level of support and leadership
SREB states provided in 2014-15 and 2015-16 to help educators
identify and use high-quality textbooks, lesson plans and other
materials aligned to state K-12 standards.
Katrina Zimmerman is a science and technology
teacher at Turrentine Middle School in Burlington, North
Carolina. Zimmerman spearheads STEM (science,
technology, engineering and math) at her school and is creating a
whole new curriculum for it. She began using the Literacy Design
Collaborative (LDC) strategies in February 2015, adding it as a
curriculum tool for her classroom.
Quinton A. Granville was a seventh-grade social studies
and reading teacher for Atlanta Public Schools when this blog
entry was written. He is now a literacy consultant at
Quinton Granville has been using the Literacy Design
Collaboration framework in his seventh-grade classroom for nearly
a year. He says he’s come a long way since he was introduced
to LDC through a districtwide initiative.
Why did the deer cross the
road? The usual answer to the joke is “to get to the other side.”
That question serves as a prompt for seventh-grade science
students to start looking for answers through data-driven
research and in-depth writing. Their teacher, Reese Woytek at
Slocomb Middle School in Geneva
County,Alabama, is using the
instructional framework of the Literacy Design Collaborative
(LDC). He received his LDC training in 2015. The Southern
Regional Education Board is training teachers across Alabama, and
Woytek’s experience is a perfect example of how LDC strategies
can change teacher focus and impact students.
Report of the Committee to Improve Reading and Writing in Middle
and High Schools
Nationwide, students in the middle grades and high school are
failing to develop the reading and writing skills they need in
order to meet higher academic standards. This major SREB report
on adolescent literacy discusses the urgency of the problem in
depth and presents specific solutions for SREB states based on
the recommendations of the SREB Committee to Improve Reading and
Writing in Middle and High Schools, chaired by Governor Tim Kaine
of Virginia, the SREB Board chair. The report includes a message
from SREB President Dave Spence and status reports on recent
state actions on the issue.