Guidance For Implementing High-Quality Instructional Materials

In SCORE’s report, Excellence For All: How Tennessee Can Lift Our Students To Best In The Nation, one of the five key priorities is supporting every student to become a strong reader and writer. Leading Innovation for Tennessee Education (LIFT), a group of dedicated district, school, and classroom leaders from across Tennessee, has been working to improve early literacy outcomes for students for the past two years by providing teachers with high-quality, aligned instructional materials in English language arts (ELA) classrooms.

LIFT districts have seen exciting early progress through the implementation of high-quality instructional materials and have worked to capture their learning in their recently released Instructional Materials Implementation Guidebook. The guidebook seeks to summarize the initial learning of the LIFT districts while providing a blueprint for other districts undertaking the difficult work of rolling out high-quality, aligned instructional materials.

The guidebook is organized into a series of chapters intended to provide insight into LIFT’s approach to change and specific strategies and lessons learned from two years of implementation. It covers topics like creating a shared vision for excellent literacy instruction, evaluating and choosing high-quality instructional materials, progress monitoring, and more.

Each chapter includes processes, tools, and supports that LIFT districts have used and learned from, in addition to an appendix of materials collected from LIFT districts, such as:

• Sample schedules for implementation
• Annotated lists of materials
• Guidelines for pilot design
• Session materials for teacher- and leader-training sessions
• Change management strategies
• Progress-monitoring tools such as surveys
• Walk-through tools

Our hope is that sharing these resources will provide helpful guidance and a practical starting place for other schools and districts interested in implementing strong instructional materials.

Three districts in Tennessee have been using the guidebook over the past six months to support their own planning and implementation. These districts, who are a part of the LIFT Learning Network, have reported that the guidebook serves as a practical ongoing resource that they can return to as they continue to build their own knowledge and the knowledge of their teachers. Jane Fisher, instructional supervisor in Lincoln County and the director of their CKLA pilot, had this to share about the way her district uses the guidebook to support their work:

“The guidebook has been particularly helpful for our district as a support in providing greater access to a high-quality, rigorous program for all K-2 students. The background knowledge within the document has allowed our team to have a greater understanding of concepts, protocols, and the experience of others within an efficient time frame. We have referred to this document, and the links within, on multiple occasions while evaluating curriculum, planning our implementation, and determining our evaluative processes. The availability of this document allows for continued learning on an as-needed basis.”

By sharing the guidebook widely, our hope is that districts in Tennessee and beyond will see the value in investing in high-quality instructional materials and will have resources to undertake their implementation in a systematic and sustainable way. We encourage you to utilize the many resources provided throughout the guidebook to support the work of implementing high-quality instructional materials in your own schools and districts.

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Anna Norris

Anna began her career in education as a high school teacher in Memphis City Schools. She taught middle and high school in Tennessee and Florida before transitioning to instructional coaching within Chicago Public Schools. As a Site Manager with TNTP, Anna supports teachers, schools, and districts with academic and instructional strategy with the aim of improving literacy outcomes for students. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in music and a master of public administration degree from Florida State University.

The SCORE Sheet is the online conversation on public education reform in Tennessee and is hosted by SCORE. The blog mirrors SCORE’s collaborative nature and features contributors from Tennessee and across the country including students, parents, teachers, policymakers, community groups, and members of SCORE’s team. Regardless of perspective, contributors share a common goal: that every child graduates from high school prepared for college or the workforce.

Posts on The SCORE Sheet are the opinions of the individual contributors and are not necessarily reflective of the opinions and positions of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE).