Friday, October 8, 2010

District Literacy Action Planning

One of the big projects that the Office of Literacy and many of our districts in the southeast region have been developing lately is the District Literacy Action Plan. It is a rigorous and rewarding process. The district forms a team of truly representative staff members. The team meets about ten times to participate in a brief but thorough self-study and the courageous conversations that will lead to a narrow set of measurable and actionable goals. The goals are intended to be accomplished within several months to a year. This is not "your typical three-to-five-year strategic plan".

Using a process developed by the Office of Literacy and one of its partners, Public Consulting Group, districts define literacy, assess the current conditions K - 12, and set goals in four major, interrelated areas. The four areas are assessment and data use, standards-based curriculum, tiered instruction, and family and community involvement. A goal map outlines the resources and time needed to accomplish that goal. The process is designed to integrate the aligned plan with every existing district initiative. The literacy vision matches the district's vision and those expressed by each of its schools. It is because the plan matches existing goals and initiatives, that it immediately lives and requires action.

The District Literacy Action Team not only shepherds the development of the plan but the members of the team assume the responsibility for checking-in periodically to monitor the progress needed to accomplish its goals. In addition, they create a Public Service Announcement that provides a message alerting everyone in the community to the importance of literacy learning to every student's life and to the responsibility that we all have in supporting the education of all of our students.

The goal that supports community and family involvement can be especially challenging. It requires a mindset of partnership rather than invitation. One of the books that I recommend is Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships by Henderson, Mapp, Johnson, and Davies. The book makes the case for partnerships, reports on those places that have made partnerships work, and provides many tools and resources to help schools start to develop the relationships needed for true partnerships with families and the community.

November is Family Literacy Month. You may want to think about some activities that will begin or forge even stronger partnerships with families around literacy. Visit our resource page at http://www.doe.mass.edu/familylit/month/ for partnership ideas and ways to help you get the word out that successful literacy development depends on collaboration. All learning is served on the literacy plate!