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Reading as a content area

Examining systemic reading instruction

Reading plays a critical role in learners’ educational success. Wisconsin schools have the responsibility to ensure that all students receive engaging, high-quality reading instruction aligned to grade-level standards. Schools use systemic and systematic structures and practices for reading instruction so all learners will have equitable access and opportunity.

Our approach for systems change

We support schools and districts as they work towards implementing and sustaining Wisconsin’s Framework for Equitable, Multi-level Systems of Supports, an integrated system of academic, behavioral, and social-emotional supports. Reading is one of the content areas in this integrated system.

“In order to help all students achieve, all teachers within a school have to know and put into practice many of the same fundamental aspects of effective reading instruction.” (Barbara M. Taylor). In each school, there is a fundamental connection between the system (knowledge and practices used by ALL teachers) and reading achievement for ALL students.

Where does Response to Intervention (RtI) fit into this system?

RtI is narrowly defined as a mandated, technical process for specific learning disability determinations (Wisconsin DPI). Often, general educators view RtI as something to support struggling learners in a particular academic area. The Wisconsin RtI Center’s wide vision impacts ALL learners. We support schools and districts to proactively integrate RtI processes into the integrated framework.

Defining universal, selected, and intensive practices and supports for reading instruction at the school level

The foundation of a school’s reading instruction is the universal level, where all learners receive strong, high-quality teaching. With each level of support (selected and intensive), the intensity of the instruction increases to match student need. The Wisconsin State Literacy Standards define what students should know and be able to do by the end of each grade.

Teach skills and strategies using a comprehensive literacy framework

A systemic and systematic framework creates a vision for quality reading instruction that is shared by everyone in a school district.

An instructional framework:

  • Provides a common language for staff
  • Details the core reading content and grade-level benchmarks
  • Uses evidence-based instructional strategies, practices, and assessments
  • Is aligned to the Wisconsin State Standards at grade level and across grade levels
  • Creates coherence around curriculum and instruction
  • Assures sustainability and clarity by documenting agreed-upon decisions

Assessing school-wide implementation through a reading lens

How well is your system meeting the needs of your learners? Schools can gauge their systemic reading implementation using the School-wide Implementation Review (SIR). Schools define and set up universal, selected, and intensive practices by content area, so the SIR can be taken through the lens of any particular content area. Most frequently, schools use the SIR to get a systemic and systematic look at their reading and mathematics instruction.

What is the School-wide Implementation Review (SIR)?

The SIR is a free, online tool that

  • Assesses academic system implementation around Wisconsin’s Framework for Equitable Multi-level Systems of Supports
  • Is taken annually as part of the school’s/district’s action planning process
  • Is completed by school leadership teams that include a building administrator