In Their Own Words: Lindsay Unified School District

Reading Plus

To understand the critical impact Reading Plus is having in Lindsay Unified, one only needs to ask Jon, an 8th grader at Jefferson Learning Community.

“When I started in Reading Plus as a 7th grader, I was around the C level. I was really behind in reading. By the end of last year, I hit the 8th-grade level in reading. This year, I’m working at the 11th-grade level.”

Jon, like many other learners in Lindsay Unified, is finding success in strategic efforts to boost literacy as part of a larger framework of transformation. Literacy has long been a concern in the district’s goal to create empowered, lifelong learners with college and career readiness skills. Beginning in 2007, the district began the work of designing and implementing the Performance-Based System, an innovative model that centers on ensuring both proficiency and personalization of learning and creating the ideal learning experience for each learner.

Reading Plus, implemented across the district in 2015, has helped to further this work and reshape how both teachers and learners think about, discuss, teach, measure, and celebrate reading.  In learning environments across the district, Reading Plus is helping learners practice necessary adolescent reading skills, track their progress towards grade-level reading and fluency, and measure their competencies in key anchor reading standards. In a competency-based model like Lindsay’s, fostering college and career literacy skills requires teaching learners to be flexible, conscientious, connected readers who take reading risks, put metacognition to work, and find relevance and reward in reading.

Reading Plus is helping to do just that. Through daily reading and vocabulary activities, learners read beyond their favorite topics and themes, they interact skills and content practice, and they develop the grit and perseverance to become independent, inquisitive readers.

Guadalupe Alvarez, an upper elementary learning facilitator in the district, notes that Reading Plus “allows me to hone in on learners’ specific needs in real-time. Virtually every day I can check-in and monitor learners’ needs.”

Head shot of Amalia Lopez

Through Reading Plus, our learning facilitators like Ms. Alvarez- often teaching multiple levels of learners with diverse academic needs – have key formative data to diagnose and address reading needs. Our learners – empowered to know their reading levels and set SMART goals around them – can articulate the gains and growth they’ve made and the reading road ahead. Classroom walls are covered in certificates and tracking charts for the levels learners have completed; educators can be found working in small groups with learners with the offline skills activities and mini-lessons, and the data speaks for itself.  Grade level reading rates across the district are steadily increasing and Reading Plus has become part of the culture of our learning environments.

“It has fostered a sense of unity for learners because they all understand everyone struggles with some aspect of reading.”  Ms. Alvarez says. “I now catch them helping one another with hard vocabulary or sharing if they found the article they read in Reading Plus interesting.”

Jon is preparing to promote to high school in the fall. When asked about the value of Reading Plus in his learning, he offers a broad smile. “It’s amazing because I never thought I’d be able to read better. Reading Plus has helped me come so far.  It has taught me more about what I like to read and that means a lot.”

Read our complete interview with Amalia to learn the full story of how Lindsay Unified District uses Reading Plus to help its learners become college and career-ready.