Mission Literacy is Mission Accomplished in Lyon County School District's Read by Grade 3 Initiative

Immediate Release


Greg Bortolin
Carson City, NV - October 19, 2016

Nevada’s Read by Grade 3 grant funding has allowed the Lyon County School District (LCSD) to expand its “Mission Literacy” program that focuses on a progress monitoring mechanism for all of its Kindergarten through third grade students identified as struggling in the area of reading.

“We are able to employ techniques that we know work with a process that allows for instruction to be matched to all students’ targeted needs,” said Amber Westmoreland, Lyon County’s Director of Read by Grade 3. “The emphasis becomes the improvement of the overall reading ability for all K-3 students.”

Several years ago the Lyon County School District developed its own district-wide literacy initiative which it coined “Mission Literacy.” During the spring of last year LCSD was able to expand its Mission Literacy work through the funding that it received as one of the first 10 recipients of a Nevada Read by Grade 3 competitive grant award. Read by Grade 3 funding was authorized by the 2015 Legislature through SB 391 - Nevada’s Read by Grade 3 Act. This Act authorized competitive grant awards totaling $4.9 million in 2016. Lyon County received $274,475 for its targeted work in early literacy for the Phase I piece (2015-2016). LCSD’s literacy team established several key components within its first Read by Grade 3 Program including an implementation of K-3 learning strategists at every elementary site, a utilization of a nationally renowned instruction and intervention program and the creation of a progress monitoring mechanism for all of its K-3 students identified as struggling in the area of reading.

In adherence to SB 391 mandates, LCSD added the role of the learning strategist to every one of its elementary sites. The language of this law defines how the Read by Grade 3 learning strategist is to provide support and expert guidance in the area of literacy for all K-3 teachers. LCSD has adopted a unique approach with this role by assigning two classroom teachers to share it concurrently. Each of these strategists splits his/her role by remaining in the classroom for half a day and providing educator support for the other half of the day. This approach mirrors that of other national models that emphasize the need for all strategists to remain in the classroom setting in order to maintain a holistic sense of the teaching process.

“Learning strategists meet every other week the entire school year,” Westmoreland said. “With their split role, they will be able to build model classrooms that focus specifically on best practices in reading and writing.”

Westmoreland further notes how LCSD has adopted Lucy Calkins’ nationally renowned Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop in nine of its elementary schools. To support this curriculum each elementary school received many authentic texts for their literacy libraries. These teacher-centered libraries are organized for individual teachers to check out targeted books for their classroom for their students to use during independent reading time. One method that LCSD learning strategists have employed to expand the literacy skill sets of its elementary teachers is the videotaping of model teaching lessons. These videotapes are continually used for professional development.

LCSD has also utilized its Read by Grade 3 funding to establish a specifically targeted approach for all of its K-3 students who are performing below the grade level benchmark in reading. LCSD’s literacy experts create an individualized reading plan for each of these students. They refer to this plan as a Reading Acceleration Plan (more informally referred to as their RAP). The purpose of a LCSD’s RAP is to identify individual student reading needs, and to meet these needs through targeted instruction and intervention. Classroom teachers monitor these student plans during data team meetings that are held every other week. Through this collaborative process these teachers jointly analyze their student data in order to inform their classroom instruction.