Structured Literacy approaches emphasize highly explicit and systematic teaching of all crucial literacy components. Instruction begins with foundational skills, such as decoding and spelling. Then, teaching continues with higher-level literacy skills, such as reading comprehension and written expression.
This approach supports explicit, sequential, systematic, prescriptive, diagnostic, and cumulative instruction. Trained teachers implement appropriate methods for all students. Structured Literacy instruction helps all students learn to read and write, but is essential for those with learning differences and those struggling to learn to read.
A Structured Literacy Approach Includes the Five Pillars of Reading
The report of the National Reading Panel highlighted five“pillars” of reading: Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Oral Fluency, Vocabulary Development, and Comprehension. These are all included in structured literacy teaching. Practicing these specific reading components can dramatically improve students’ ability to read.
Based on Scientific Research
- How proficient reading and writing develop
- Why some have difficulty learning to read and write
- How we can most effectively assess and teach to improve student outcomes
For reading, students are provided with repeated opportunities to decode text with many examples of phonetic elements. Students become skilled in spelling words through regular dictation of words and sentences containing phonetic concepts. This practice builds the foundation for the ultimate goal of reading: comprehension.
Local Strides in Structured Literacy
Here in Rhode Island, much progress has been made to bring Structured Literacy to every student. Implementing the Right to Read Act in 2019, Rhode Island now requires educators to be aware of and/or proficient in the Science of Reading and Structured Literacy concepts, principles, and approaches. Rhode Island Tutorial and Educational Services (RITES) reading specialists have a deep understanding of these, incorporating them with each student they teach. And RITES is partnering with Root Literacy Design (also based in Rhode Island) to offer teacher training in Structured Literacy to local educators. In addition, local institutions are working to raise awareness about the Right to Read Act and what it means. Rhode Island Science of Reading has been established and offers awareness opportunities, such as the screening of “The Right to Read” film and a panel discussion afterward on April 28, 2023, sponsored by Rhode Island College.
Ensuring all students receive Structured Literacy, the type of in-depth, research-based, proven reading instruction they need to succeed, is essential. By increasing awareness, teacher training opportunities and direct Structured Literacy instruction time with our students, we are well on the way to achieving this goal.