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Read Well By Third Grade

The purpose of this Read Well By Third Grade Literacy Plan is to ensure that ALL students will achieve grade-level proficiency and read well by Grade 3. This plan addresses the third grade reading proficiency objective of our District’s World’s Best Workforce Plan (Minn. Stat. § 120B.11).  It also has been developed to meet the requirements of “Reading Well by Third Grade” (Minn. Stat. § 120B.12)

Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) in Reading

Willmar Public Schools employs a Multi-Tier System of Supports (MTSS) Framework in reading, which is a continuum of evidence-based, system-wide practices.  This comprehensive approach is intended to provide support for each child to be successful as well as guide the processes and tools teachers collaboratively use to make decisions.  Burns and VanDerHeyden (2006) define MTSS as the systematic use of assessment data to efficiently allocate resources in order to teach all students. According to the Minnesota Department of Education, the critical features of this school-wide framework includes:

  •       Assessment
  •       High-quality, evidence-based instruction
  •       Core instruction
  •       Tier 2/Supplemental interventions
  •       Data-based decision making


Identification of Students Not Reading at Grade Level

The Renaissance STAR Early Literacy and STAR Reading assessments are Universal Screening tools that are administered to all students in grades K-5 in the fall, winter, and spring of each year.  The STAR Early Literacy system quickly measures K–3 students’ early literacy skills with a computer-adapted test.  The STAR Reading assessments are used with students in grades 1-5.  They are also computer adaptive as they are part of a comprehensive assessment system designed to keep students on track for the high levels of literacy they need for success in school and in life.  Both systems are used for universal screening, progress monitoring, and goal setting.  Students deemed not reading at grade level will be provided intervention support.  Entrance criteria for the interventions are based on assessment data along with classroom teacher input. 

Students who are furthest from cut scores will undergo further assessment to determine specific skill deficit(s) in one of the five strands of reading, using one or more of the following research-based assessments: Renaissance STAR or Pathway to Reading Excellence in School Sites (PRESS)

After each screening period, data is analyzed, and students will be placed into intervention groups.  Renaissance STAR and/or PRESS are used to monitor progress.  Progress monitoring data is collected weekly and analyzed monthly.  The following process will be used:

  1. For each student, plot 4-6 data points on a student chart.
  2. Examine the student chart and establish a trend line.
  3. Change the intervention or choose a new intervention if a student has four data points clearly below the aim line.
  4. Continue the intervention until the student meets the grade level benchmark indicated by at least three to four data points on or above the aim line. 
  5. Refer the student to the Student Success Team (SST) after at least three interventions have been attempted and all have been deemed unsuccessful as indicated by at least four data points clearly below the aim line for each intervention. 

Efforts to Screen and Identify Students for Dyslexia and Convergence Insufficiency Disorder

Willmar Public Schools will use the STAR system to initially determine if there are concerns about Dyslexia or Convergence Insufficiency Disorder for a student. Students may need interventions to further clarify a concern.

Programming supports, interventions, and/or possible referrals to primary medical care may be necessary to assist in the overall screening process. Dyslexia is not a vision disorder, but rather a processing disorder.

Convergence Insufficiency Disorder is a vision disorder. Symptoms and educational impact for either disorder will be discussed with parents and referred to the school’s Student Success Team (SST). Tiered intervention supports will be put into place based on an individual need. 

Symptoms will be treated as they relate to the eligibility criteria for Minnesota’s disability categories.  

The STAR Early Literacy and Reading assessments will be used as a part of the screening process to identify students who may be at risk for having characteristics of dyslexia.  Specifically, student performance in the following areas will be evaluated: 

  • Letter Naming Fluency
  • Letter Sounds Fluency
  • Word Reading Fluency
  • Oral Reading Fluency  

In STAR Early Literacy Reading, the cut scores for a significant reading deficiency is the 25th percentile rank in all grades, all seasons.  The scores from the STAR Screeners do not identify which students have dyslexia.   Rather the screeners will identify students who are not making adequate progress toward reaching grade level proficiency and are in need of additional support and instruction in phonemic awareness, decoding/encoding, morphology, fluency and comprehension.

In addition to effective core instruction, students who are at-risk of having the characteristics of dyslexia will be provided evidence-based interventions.  Student progress will be monitored.  If student performance does not improve, additional diagnostic information will be collected to verify which students demonstrate characteristics of dyslexia.

English Learners

Identification for English Learner (EL) services is a two-step process that is standardized by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE).  The first step is for the district to review the Home Language Survey that is completed by all families upon registration.  If a language other than English is indicated anywhere on the form, the student is assessed with the WIDA Screener (Grades K-12) to determine his/her eligibility to receive English Learner Support as well as an initial level of English Language proficiency.  This is the second step of the identification process. Each form of the WIDA Screener test assesses the four language domains of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The results assist educators and parents in determining the need for EL services and level of support.

Students identified as eligible for EL services and support, are assessed annually with the ACCESS to monitor their progress in acquiring academic English.  The test items are written from the Model Performance Indicators of WIDA’s five English Language Proficiency (ELP) Standards:

  •       Social and Instructional Language
  •       Language of Language Arts
  •       Language of Mathematics
  •       Language of Science
  •       Language of Social Studies

Based on the WIDA Screener, MODEL and/or ACCESS assessments, students who qualify for EL services and support will receive supplemental English Language Development (ELD) instruction from a licensed EL teacher, in addition to core instruction from a licensed elementary teacher.

The EL assessments are used in conjunction with the previously mentioned reading assessments to determine students’ needs and appropriate instruction, including interventions. The disaggregated and aggregated data compiled from each of the assessments is used to improve programming, strengthen core instruction, and accelerate the acquisition of oral language and literacy skills for our students.  The EL teacher(s) and grade level teams are responsible for collaborating to assess, analyze, and interpret the data in order to design and provide appropriate instruction that is responsive to individual student needs. 

Parent Notification and Engagement

Following the initial screening, parents will be invited in to visit about their child’s educational needs and asked if they have any questions at parent/teacher conferences.   Classroom teachers will inform parents of the results, supports, and interventions that will be used to help their child meet the reading goals for their grade level.   Potential supports that the parents can use to assist the child in achieving grade/level proficiency will be discussed and provided as well.  A complete outline of the parent communication and involvement section is below.

Parent Communication plan

  1. An explanation of the literacy program and support will occur in October during fall parent/teacher conferences. 
  2. Interpreters are provided as needed.
  3. Assessment results are provided to parents at fall and winter conferences.
  4. Report cards on student progress are sent home at the end of each quarter.
  5. Priority Standards/Essential Outcomes are posted on the district website.  
  6. Parents' meetings/Family nights are held each year to learn about literacy programming and opportunities.

District Early Childhood programs and Head Start will conduct home visits with parents prior to starting preschool programs. During these visits, parents along with teachers discuss goals they have for their children. The beginning of each year starts with an Open House.  Head Start has monthly parent meetings while Early Childhood programs also have parent child literacy events monthly. Teachers send home “Talk, Read & Write” bags with children weekly.  

The following are resources and tools, based on the five pillars of reading, for parents, caregivers, and/or community members to use in support of literacy practices at home, which will be ongoing development.  

Path to Reading Excellence in School Site (PRESS) Framework

Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR)

Intervention Central

All attempts will be made to make all print resource materials available in the family’s home language.

Reading Interventions

Reading interventions are provided for each student identified as not reading at grade level.  The purpose of the reading interventions are to accelerate student growth in order to reach the goal of reading at or above grade level.  Targeted interventions are identified so that the intervention is directly linked to the problem and therefore has a high likelihood of being successful (Tilly, 2008). Through the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) process, teachers take collective responsibility for all student learning.  Together they work through the following problem solving process:

  • Administer Renaissance STAR Universal Screener to all students
  • Administer common assessments
  • Analyze assessment data to determine levels of student learning
    • Tier 1 – Is there a class wide need?
      • What is the median score in each classroom?
      • Does the median score fall below the benchmark score?
        • If yes, a class wide intervention is implemented
    • Tier 2 – Which students fall within the at-risk range?
      • What is the category of the problem for individual students (phonemic awareness, decoding, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension)?
      • Students are placed in small, flexible groups according to the category of need
  • Tier 3 – Is there anyone that needs Tier 3 right now? 
    • Is there anyone who needs an intense, individual intervention?
  • Teacher brings the individual student data to the Student Success Team (SST) for further review and support
  • What is the causal variable for an individual student?

Targeted services are also available to eligible students in grades 2-5 after school to receive extended time learning opportunities with additional support in reading. 

Staff Development

  • Standards-Based Learning
    •  In order to design and ensure a guaranteed and viable curriculum, teachers will be trained on developing and using proficiency scales.  Proficiency scales clearly articulate the progression of learning.
  • Path to Reading Excellence in School Sites (PRESS) Training
    • Tier 1 Class wide Interventions - Train classroom teachers to use a process that includes examining universal screening and implementing a class wide intervention if over half of the students have been identified as reading below grade-level benchmarks.
    • Tier 2 Interventions and Progress Monitoring – Train Title I Teachers to use a data-driven decision making process to identify students’ needs for interventions and implement specific, targeted interventions to meet students’ needs.
  • Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)
    • Teachers meet weekly in collaborative teams focused on literacy.  A PLC is a form of on-going job-embedded professional development that empowers teachers to take collective responsibility to improve learning outcomes for all students.
  • Instructional Coaches
    • Coaches partner with teachers to provide support, resources, and guidance as they engage in the Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle of teaching and learning.