The Importance of Strong Literacy Instructional Materials


In districts across Tennessee, exciting things are happening in K-2 literacy:

  • 在劳德代尔县, special education students in kindergarten are flourishing in conversations about fine art, discussing how human progress can change a landscape over time.
  • 在伦敦郡, second-graders are talking about the Trail of Tears in a unit about westward expansion, using vocabulary words like “encountered,”“坚持,和“重新安置”.”
  • 在杰克逊-麦迪逊县, first-grade students are identifying how different folktales from Japan, 欧洲, and America have similar messages across cultures.

这些伟大时刻的背后是什么? 在每一个地区, teachers are trying out new instructional materials to support students’ reading and listening comprehension. 到目前为止, they’re seeing lessons that better reflect the demands of the Tennessee English language arts (ELA) standards and significant development in students’ abilities.

Each of these districts is part of 提升教育, a network of 12 innovative school systems across Tennessee. A year ago, these districts identified K-2 literacy as a common area for collaboration. After engaging in an instructional diagnostic process with TNTP, the network decided to focus on expanding and improving the time students spent on rich, 复杂的文本. 在大多数情况下, this meant a focus on read-alouds and the questions and tasks that help students build knowledge and vocabulary.

LIFT districts have a clear theory of action in this work: Real improvements in the classroom happen when teachers are supported in their planning process by strong, standards-aligned instructional materials. This year, teachers in each district are piloting either 核心知识智慧 & 智慧, 或两个, each of which provides teachers with high-quality units that build students’ knowledge of the world and deep understanding of vocabulary and enduring concepts.

Teacher piloting the new materials see a profound shift:

  • 84 percent say they feel more supported in their classrooms as a result of the new instructional materials.
  • 87 percent say new instructional materials allow them to deliver higher-quality lessons than what they were doing previously.
  • 96 percent say their students’ vocabulary is growing noticeably as a result of these materials.

除了, classroom visits by TNTP have found significantly more lessons that reflect the demands of the Tennessee standards. In diagnostic visits, only 8 percent of classrooms had lessons that met these demands. But in districts where materials have been used for the entire school year, almost a third of classrooms met some or all of the demands, with another third showing some promising practices, and over 90 percent centered on a high-quality, 适当复杂的文本.

也许最重要的是, these instructional materials are encouraging teachers to raise their expectations for students and increase the rigor in their classrooms. 老师们在过去注意到这一点, they may have watered things down for kids who were not on grade level. But now, “The students are really digging deep into the text,” says a teacher in Lauderdale County. “I’m now asking questions that are more challenging for students in a different way. Kids who struggled previously are really shining and doing deep thinking.”

这些地区的下一步是什么? 在秋天, all of them will continue to use these new instructional materials, and some will roll them out to more teachers. Says another teacher involved in the early literacy work: “We feel a sense of urgency, and these materials are supporting our teachers and students in amazing ways.”

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Chris Daniels is a Project Director with TNTP, where he focuses on early literacy academic strategy with a consortium of districts in Tennessee and cross-LEA collaboration on staffing policies in Washington, DC. Prior to working with TNTP, Chris served at the U.S. 教育部, at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and as a seventh-grade math teacher in Philadelphia. He holds a BA in religion from Columbia University, an MS in Education from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.


Courtney Seiler focuses on engaging and supporting educators in Tennessee. She previously worked as the deputy director of evaluation at the Tennessee 教育部, where she supported high-quality implementation of teacher evaluation. After graduating from the University of Tennessee, she taught fifth grade in Charlotte, 北卡罗莱纳. She then went on to receive her master’s degree in public administration and policy from the University of Georgia. Courtney is a native of Kingsport, Tennessee, and a graduate of Tennessee public schools.