Summit Academy Community School – Columbus students Avery and Naythaaniel participate in a period of silent reading.  

Curriculum Administrator Jessica Hahn and her colleagues want to transform Summit Academy into a school district of literacy excellence. The ambitious goal applies to both literacy instruction from staff members and literacy achievement by students. The goal is most certainly within reach, says Hahn, explaining that Summit Academy’s Reading Framework has already laid the groundwork and placed Summit Academy ahead of the game in delivering reading instruction that sticks with students.

Aligned with Ohio’s Plan to Raise Literacy Achievement, the Reading Framework  provides Summit Academy staff with an understanding of the science of reading. The plan does so within a multi-tiered system of support and guidance on how to deliver effective instruction. For example, since launching the Reading Framework in 2020, Summit Academy has aligned its English language arts programs to the science of reading, strengthening instruction for all its students and at all tiers of support.

Curriculum Administrator Jessica Hahn says Summit Academy is on its way to becoming a school district of excellence in literacy.

“We are definitely at the forefront,” says Hahn, describing how Summit Academy’s Reading Framework is expected to have a long-term impact on student success. She explains that students who do not learn to read by the third grade are three to four times more likely to drop out of school than other students. Oftentimes, the failure lies in how reading is taught and not in students’ capability.

“The Reading Framework is clarifying our instructional process. It helps staff understand how and when to screen, provide diagnostics, and if needed, progress monitor students. This provides us with actionable data to inform our instruction,” says Hahn. She adds that the Reading Framework also includes decision rules to guide teachers as they analyze their data.

Now, Summit Academy is about to take its next big step toward becoming a district of literacy excellence through its participation in the Ohio Lead for Literacy Institute. As an institute cohort member, Summit Academy expects to strengthen its Reading Framework through participation in an upcoming series of Lead for Literacy educational sessions.

“Our participation as a cohort member will help us evaluate our current progress on the Reading Framework, while supporting us in deepening our understanding of all aspects of effective literacy instruction,” explains Hahn. She emphasizes that because Summit Academy’s Reading Framework plan was created in alignment with Ohio’s Plan to Raise Literacy Achievement, she expects “easy evaluation of what we are currently doing, and where we plan to go in the future.”

Tricia Merenda, Literacy Specialist with the ODE’s Office of Approaches to Teaching and Professional Learning, adds that the goal of Lead for Literacy is four-fold.

  • To facilitate professional development, including coaching, by using evidence-based literacy and assessment practices to support learning for all students, including those with or at risk for disabilities;
  • To develop education programming related to evidence-based literacy practices to improve reading outcomes for all students, including those with or at risk for disabilities;
  • To allocate resources efficiently and effectively so that students with, or at risk for, disabilities have access to literacy instruction and interventions that meet their individual needs; and
  • To improve teacher implementation of evidence-based reading instruction and intervention within a multi-tiered system of support in schools.

Summit Academy has a team of eight, including principals, curriculum team members and literacy coaches, who will participate in Ohio’s Lead for Literacy virtual sessions from Oct. 25, 2022 to April 25, 2023. Session topics include literacy leadership, core instruction, intervention, assessment systems, professional learning systems and effective school action planning for continuous improvement.

The end goal, says Hahn, is to improve reading instruction at Summit Academy Schools. She explains that over the past few decades, higher education institutions have insufficiently prepared teachers in reading instruction. “This is a nationwide occurrence [and] Summit, through the guidance of Ohio’s Plan to Raise Literacy Achievement, has recognized the importance not only of developing best practices in literacy instruction, but also plans for building teacher capacity in that area, and supporting educator implementation of those practices.”

With the Reading Framework firmly in place, Hahn explains that Summit Academy’s participation in Lead for Literacy will provide a space to evaluate and improve the plan’s practices, which she explains will better equip Summit teachers for literacy instruction. “In turn,” Hahn says, “this will provide our students with the pathway to high achievement.”

The Lead for Literacy Center is funded by the United States Office of Special Education Programs. The Lead for Literacy Center is offering the Ohio Lead for Literacy Virtual Institute sessions in partnership with the Ohio Department of Education.