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Literacy for Learning, Living, and Leading in Georgia

Literacy for Learning, Living, and Leading in Georgia

The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) has created a Literacy for Learning, Living, and Leading (L4) plan to ensure that all children are on the path to reading proficiently by 3rd grade and beyond. With accountability measures clearly stated in the Georgia ESSA plan and an impressive L4GA grant program to support funding of this initiative, the state is setting impressive groundwork to ensure that all children will successfully learn to read, write, and communicate.

Today, we’ll dig in a step further to understand the critical components of the L4 plan, the ESSA accountability measures, and the grant currently available to 38 districts in the state. Whether you’re an educator in Georgia or not, the components of this specific geographic example are fundamentally part of a movement aimed at systemic changes to reading instruction. And, simply put, this kind of movement is necessary for any education system’s success.

Components of the L4 Plan

The GaDOE site is particularly fond of a circular visual to help parse out the key elements of the L4 plan. But, with so much detail and complexity within each concentric ring, let’s first try to break down the visual and simplify. At the center of it all, Georgia is focused on supporting the whole child. The state does this through identifying five building blocks—evaluating community, leadership, instruction, environment, and professionalism—that it believes must be in place to help the whole child succeed. All five of these building blocks are developed within guiding principles and practices, which entail data-informed, research-proven, and culturally and linguistically responsive approaches. And, finally, in the outermost ring, the GaDOE is facilitating making these efforts possible through investing in the right stakeholders, including several key groups and taskforces.

With the groundwork laid, let’s zero in on the five building blocks of literacy that Georgia has identified, as they’re key to laying a strong foundation for future reading success.

  1. Family and Community Partnerships

Even the very best teachers don’t have enough time in their day to read with students independently for as long as may be required to see tremendous improvement. That’s where true community engagement is critical, including both public and private partners, districts, and schools. Georgia cites specific examples, including early-learning language-nutrition programs, book clubs, and summer reading campaigns, all aimed at getting students reading!

  1. Effective Leadership

This building block is aimed at getting all educators on the same page when it comes to leading with evidence-based teaching strategies as a part of high-quality instruction and assessment-balanced literacy-action plans. With leadership in place to spearhead support, elevate best practices, and coordinate change, anything is possible.

  1. Coherent Instructional System

A “coherent instructional system” can be defined as one that is aligned for children from birth through grade 12 in ways that value students’ background knowledge, build on students’ interests, and hold high expectations for learning. Key components of this focus on fostering language nutrition in primary classrooms are read-aloud practices and the promotion of academic language.

  1. Supportive Learning Environment

This particular building block encompasses many best practices of instruction, including providing specialized interventions, moving to a competency-based learning model, and elevating social and emotional learning. It’s here that we see the tenet of focusing on the whole child truly come to the forefront.

  1. Professional Capacity

How is good teaching achieved without good teachers? Ongoing support of professional learning through mentoring, coaching, and collaborative groups that allow discussion and sharing of best practices is central to cultivating top-notch educators.

ESSA Literacy Accountability Measures

Georgia evaluates literacy within several accountability indicators that ultimately all connect back to state assessment scores. The most unique, however, is a readiness component that could be considered a school-quality or student-success indicator. Here, literacy and, specifically, Lexile® measures, are evaluated. These measures are derived from the state’s English language arts assessment that students take each year. The percentage of students demonstrating reading comprehension at or above the midpoint of the college- and career-ready “stretch” Lexile measures band for each grade level or course is reported.

Other areas where literacy is specifically evaluated include ELA growth and progress measured by student growth percentiles (SGPs), closing gaps in ELA measured by the percentage of achievement targets met among all students and subgroups, and finally, the most obvious, ELA achievement or content mastery according to performance on the statewide assessment system. Altogether, reading and literacy measures make up 41.17% of Georgia’s ESSA accountability score for elementary and middle schools and 29% at the high school level. That’s a tremendous focus on reading!

L4GA Grant

Georgia’s L4 plan also includes a Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grant component to continue to promote literacy outcomes for children from birth to grade 12. Specifically, the grant leverages an independent review process to competitively sub-grant funds to local education agencies and community partnerships based on their proposals that align with the state L4 plan. This year, 38 districts were just approved, and the process to effectively allocate those funds and report back on the progress made has officially started. More details on the L4GA grant program can be found on the GaDOE website.

In the end, it takes a village to get all students reading proficiently. Let Edmentum become one more partner in your corner. For more information about planning effective reading and literacy instruction, check out our FREE reading and literacy workbook. This comprehensive tool evaluates the many facets of structuring an effective, research-based reading and language arts block and helps you select the appropriate technology tools to support your approach.