Supervising & Staffing Reading Programs

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we will explore effective supervisory strategies for selecting qualified reading staff, implementing and supervising reading programs, and determining appropriate resource allocation for students and teachers.

Implementing a Reading Program

Will Rogers once said, ''A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.'' There is no question that reading is one of the most important skills we learn, so the stakes for reading education are high. Let's discuss how staffing, supervision, and appropriate allocation of resources can help to build a successful reading program.

Staffing

Who determines whether a reading program is successful? A quality literacy program depends on all of the people who work directly or indirectly with students. Everyone needs to share the common goal of improving reading achievement. Some of the positions that most affect the success of the program include teachers, principals, paraprofessionals and coaches. Central office administrators, including the superintendent and other supervisors such as a district's director of elementary education, director of special education and director of federal programs, also need to be involved.

This engagement should begin even before new staff members are hired. In order to make sure that all new hires share the school or district's vision for reading success, those responsible for hiring may need to adjust job descriptions, interview questions, and other hiring practices. Using case studies and other realistic scenarios during the interview process will provide an idea of how candidates might handle a situation and whether their ideas are aligned with the district's goals.

Additionally, both new hires and existing staff need to be placed strategically at the schools and grade levels where they will be most successful. Educators at all levels should be supported with training that improves their performance and offers opportunities for leadership development.

Supervision

Improvements in teaching and learning require strong leadership in order to support instructors and the curriculum. This leadership should include a combination of professional development, coaching, assessment, and system-level support. To keep everyone moving in the same direction, a team of leaders, working both at each site and at the district level, should be established to implement the program.

During the first year of a new program, the focus of supervision should be on coaxing teachers to adjust to the new approach and making sure that they understand the research behind it. The second year is about making necessary adjustments and becoming more consistent across the school or district in the way the curriculum is implemented. In the third year, a common challenge is keeping teachers and staff from making changes to research-based practices in order to suit their own styles. School leaders will need to monitor classrooms, offer feedback, analyze assessments, and provide intervention as necessary to make sure students are continuing to grow.

Resource Allocation

One of the most important tools available to successful reading programs is assessment designed to track student progress and monitor adherence to the program. Diagnostic assessments are given before instruction takes place to help educators make decisions about possible interventions and how to group students. Frequent progress monitoring, which is ongoing assessment, helps educators identify students who are not making progress, as well as identifying failures within the program.

Strategic or intensive intervention should be provided when fewer than 75% of students in a group are meeting their targets. These students will benefit from additional resources like smaller groups and additional materials, and their teachers will also need additional support and monitoring. More broadly, schools in which many students are not meeting their targets will need additional resources and support from district administrators.

Another resource is time. The recommended amount of daily time for language arts at the elementary and middle school levels is as follows:

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