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Alabama Literacy Act: What You Need to Know

Alabama Literacy Act key focuses.

There has been a lot of buzz about this new "Literacy Act" being implemented in Alabama starting in the 2021-2022 school year. I have been curious to know how this would impact my students since I primarily work with students who have learning disabilities. I found a flow chart issued by Lee County and I will be using it as a reference in this blog. Here is the link where I found this information.

From what I have read and researched, there will be more emphasis on implementing intensive, explicit direct instruction techniques to help close the reading gap in struggling readers. The notion is that if students are not reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade, they can be retained. There are a few exceptions, but they can be found on the flow chart under the category "Good Cause Exemptions."

I want to break down the meaning of "explicit direct instruction." According to the National Center on Intensive Intervention, explicit instruction is when the teacher "selects an important objective, specifies the learning outcome, designs structured instructional experiences, explains directly, models the skill being taught, and provides scaffolded practice to achieve mastery." This is very different from the student-centered/led enrichment approach which encourages students to "show what they know" without being explicitly taught. Teachers who use this approach are encouraged to guide students and challenge them by asking higher-order thinking questions. When using this approach some may find themselves using ambiguous speech which negatively impacts students who have learning difficulties. This type of model is not the best practice and it is extremely difficult for students performing below the average range in reading.

So what are the criteria for promotion to 4th grade? According to the document, students must have:

  • Scores above the lowest achievement level on an approved assessment taken

  • For students on the alternative achievement route, they must earn an acceptable score on an alternative standardized reading assessment

  • Students following state standards must demonstrate mastery of all 3rd-grade reading standards as evidenced in their portfolio or qualify for an exemption

How can Holmes Tutoring help? Holmes Tutoring uses an explicit, systematic, direct instruction approach to teaching. Direct Instruction designed content is used to help students in reading and mathematics. This approach is the same approach that the "Alabama Literacy Act' outlines as best practice and the approach that is required to be used for students identified as performing below the average range in reading. Holmes Tutoring also creates individual reading plans for students enrolled in the "Gold Bundle" package. All students are assessed, regardless of which bundle session is chosen, before the start date of tutoring for baseline data purposes. Parents will see the progress that their children make based on the initial assessment taken. Holmes Tutoring tutors monitor students regularly to determine the effectiveness of the content and the approach taken. This ensures that students are truly digesting the information taught to them during tutoring classes.

Now is a wonderful time to join the Holmes Tutoring family! Holmes Tutoring is offering its first "Summer Reading Camp" for reading comprehension. This camp will focus on 2nd and 3rd-grade reading comprehension standards for students struggling to comprehend information read. This camp is also perfect for students being introduced to chapter books and reading chapter books with simple vocabulary words and simplistic content. A new class will be offered this summer titled, "All About the ABCs!"This is a fun ongoing class where students in PreK and Kindergarten can learn and practice identifying letter names and sounds that letters make. Students will be shown pictures of objects reminding them of the letter sounds to help with retention. Games, videos, and songs will be played throughout the 30-minute class to help students stay focused. Students will also receive resources before class for homework/extra practice. This class is offered all year long and students are free to pop in and out. Payment is due at least 24 hours before the session(s) starts.

An emergent summer reading camp is also launching this summer. Students will work on guided reading activities to help them learn basic sight words, review phonological awareness skills, and practice reading fluently with both accuracy and expression. Holmes Tutoring will offer two emergent reading camps. One is for students living in America and the other one is for students living in China. Be sure to enroll in the correct camp. To find out more, visit the "Summer Reading Camp" tab on Holmes Tutoring's website.

STEM enrichment camps will also be offered soon. This is perfect for students wanting a challenge in science, technology, engineering, and math. Two new tutors will be joining Holmes Tutoring as enrichment tutors. They will be running STEM camps for students interested. They are both engineers and have a lot of experience working on creating fun and engaging projects for students interested in STEM. Make sure you have subscribed to the website and liked Holmes Tutoring's Facebook page to stay up to date with all news and updates.

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