Implementing Science of Reading-Based Literacy Instruction at Colquitt County School District

Moultrie, GA


Colquitt County School District in southwest Georgia is balancing change with tradition. In order to meet the varied needs of their increasingly more diverse student population, educators in the district implemented a framework to increase reading achievement that would transform the way they had been teaching reading for 20 years — and they are seeing positive results.

“We're seeing the proof in the pudding,” said Principal Gistacy Brown. “Not only with achievement, but with growth.”

After just one year of implementing their new framework, Colquitt County educators are seeing growth in student performance and more engagement in the classroom. This success stems from several key components of the framework: frequent assessments and data analysis; core-embedded intervention; and a new district-wide core literacy curriculum, myView Literacy, that provides research-based reading instruction grounded in the Science of Reading

Meeting the Needs of a Diverse Student Population

Over the last 20 years, the student population in the Georgia district has transformed due to a large influx of migrant families moving to the area. With a student population growing more and more diverse every year, educators were discovering that the way they taught two decades ago wasn’t serving the students in their classrooms today.

“The level of reading success for our students didn't move for a while,” said Marni Kirkland, assistant superintendent. “It just wasn't moving.”

District leaders first decided that they needed to adopt a coherent, district-wide literacy curriculum that all teachers and students used at the same time and pace, regardless of which of the district’s 10 elementary schools they were in. They also established an instructional framework that would guide the implementation of that curriculum, making sure that every educator in the district was using the new program with intentionality.

Colquitt county schools

“With 10 elementary schools, we knew that it was very, very important for us to begin looking at adopting a unified, consistent reading curriculum to ensure that all of our schools, all of our teachers, all of our students were doing the same thing,” said the Superintendent Benjamin Wiggins.

Benjamin had two criteria that a new literacy curriculum had to meet for him to consider it for adoption.

The first criteria was that the curriculum must be aligned to the Science of Reading — the large body of research on how children learn to read — Structured Literacy, which is the application of Science of Reading research. In fact, Colquitt County was one of 10 districts accepted into the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy’s Science of Reading Navigation and Implementation Cohort — a program out of the Atlanta Speech School that provides training to teachers and educational leaders on the implementation of Science of Reading and Structured Literacy. The district was chosen because of its commitment to improving the literacy outcomes of students through this evidence-based approach.

The second criteria was that the curriculum would have to be reviewed and chosen by the teachers.

“Teachers needed to have input and be able to spend ample amounts of time looking at the different reading curriculums,” said Benjamin. “So that when the decision was made to select a reading curriculum, it was chosen by the teachers. And I think they made an excellent choice. They picked myView with Savvas.”

Learn More About myView Literacy


A Framework for Increasing Literacy Achievement

Colquitt started rolling out myView to its educators in the summer of 2022. It was critical to district leaders that the teachers felt supported in implementing a new curriculum, so they were sure to provide funding for professional learning opportunities that ranged from the initial introduction to myView to monthly coaching sessions with a Savvas educational consultant.

“The training in the beginning was very helpful just to get an overview of the program,” said Jessica Webb, a Colquitt academic coach. “But the monthly coaching is definitely what has been a game changer for us and has been the most impactful to our teachers and to me as a district coach just being able to support the teachers day in and day out.”

Aside from a robust professional learning plan, another critical element to the successful implementation of this new resource was that it must be used within a three-step framework that district leaders designed to ensure its effectiveness.

Step One: Direct, Evidence-Based Instruction

Prior to adopting a district-wide literacy program, teachers were teaching reading by pulling lessons from various different programs and teaching them at different paces from their grade-level colleagues. Now, with myView, teachers across the schools have access to the same lessons that help them apply what they are learning in their Science of Reading-based coursework and that are laid out in a sequence for them that aligns with what they’re being taught as best practices for reading instruction.

Step Two: Assessment and Data Analysis

myView comes with many assessment opportunities embedded within its design. There are summative assessments taken at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year. Then, there are also daily formative assessments, weekly progress check-ups, and end-of-unit assessments. With all these opportunities to capture the full picture of what students need, Colquitt educators wanted to make sure they were taking full advantage of these valuable insights by scheduling frequent data-analysis meetings where they dig deep into the data and then make instructional decisions based on what they find.

Step Three: Intervention Embedded into the Core

One of the key components of myView is myFocus Intervention. These are scaffolded lessons connected to the weekly instruction that also target skills for student intervention. Teachers can look at the data they find from the many assessment opportunities to differentiate the lessons being given in the core curriculum, rather than pulling students out of the classroom for remediation. Because Colquitt educators are so diligent about data analysis, they are able to take full advantage of myFocus and have seen positive results in the students with whom they use it.

“When teachers engage with high-quality instructional materials and PD and the Science of Reading, it's going to change the course of how we teach reading here,” said Marni. “Before that, you might've had five different programs rolling around the district on how to teach phonics. And so now we have one, and we make sure that it connects to the Science of Reading and how students actually learn how to read. myView aligns to that.”

Colquitt county schools

Seeing Growth and Engagement

Now that their framework and curriculum implementation are in full swing, Colquitt educators are seeing more conversations about reading and “a deeper level of learning” in the classroom, as Academic Coach Ivie Gregory phrased it.

“Students are more comfortable talking with their classmates and their teachers because that positive learning environment has been created,” she said. And to me that's all because of the way myView is structured. We all know what to expect, we know what we're doing each day. And so this second year for me is just about diving even deeper and learning even more as a team.”

Colquitt County has also seen improvements in the data gathered from the myView assessments, as well as the Georgia MAP Growth assessment, which stands for Measures of Academic Progress — a test given three times per school year from kindergarten through 8th grade. When asked what he felt were the reasons for Colquitt’s implementation success, Benjamin said it was a combination of allowing teachers to have a voice in choosing the curriculum, and the district’s strategic plan for rolling it out.

“Have a strong structured implementation plan to provide both training and support and coaching for a number of years,” the superintendent advised. “Don’t just buy a curriculum, give it to your staff, and ask them to figure it out on their own. Bring in the experts that know the curriculum frontwards and backwards, and allow them to work with your teachers in the classroom. I think that is the key.”

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