Level Up with Literacy

The State Support Team 1 Literacy Newsletter

Hello! Level up with Literacy is a tool from State Support Team 1 to provide you with timely literacy information and resources to help you meet your goal of providing a high-quality education to all learners.
You received this publication because you are subscribed to SST1’s eBRIEF! Newsletter. This will be the last issue you receive, unless you subscribe to Level Up with Literacy via our website.


Please feel free to share this newsletter with your teams and encourage your staff to subscribe. The next Level Up with Literacy will be distributed in February.

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Building on What You Know

In each issue, we will focus on one strand of the Ohio's Theory of Action from Ohio's Plan to Raise Literacy Achievement.


Our first issue of Level Up with Literacy addressed Educator Capacity by introducing resources to help you grow your understanding of the Science of Reading. Systems-wide and instructional supports were provided around the topics of how children learn to read, the reading difficulties some students face, and interventions that align to the science of reading.

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Shared Leadership: We Are in this Together

The responsibility for the successful implementation of evidence-based strategies belongs to collaboration between district leaders, building administrators and classroom teachers as described in the Ohio Improvement Process. This means that all educators are involved in identifying challenges and causes of student underperformance, seeking solutions, and leading the improvement approach.


Teams must share accountability for resource management, implementation, communication, feedback, and improvement plan adjustments. This work is supported by training and coaching on evidence-based language and literacy practices for administrators, principals, instructional coaches, and teacher leaders.

Leadership Professional Training Modules

The Ohio Leadership Advisory Council (OLAC) offers a wide variety of free training resources for educators. The modules below can help you develop your shared leadership skills.


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Instructional Supports

Instructional Supports: All Educators

Ohio Literacy Lead, Michelle Elia shares links to literacy resources, webinars, and professional learning opportunities in her newsletter, Science of Reading Snippets: Teaching Using Evidence Based Practices in Literacy.

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Instructional Supports: Early Learning

Early Learning

Rhyme Time! Rhyming is a fun way for early learners to increase phonological awareness, and research shows that rhyming helps students learn to spell and read. Reading Rockets provides videos, activities, and books to support rhyming instruction.

Instructional Supports: Adolescent Learning

Teaching Students to Read Complex Texts from Tim Shanahan explains teaching adolescent students to read and comprehend information from complex texts requires scaffolding, guidance, and explicit instruction.

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System-wide Supports

Are our elementary education systems putting too much emphasis on reading comprehension while passing over knowledge?

This brief article entitled, Elementary Education has Gone Terribly Wrong, adapted from Natalie Wexler's book, The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America's Broken Education System - and How to Fix It explores why students aren't becoming better readers - despite receiving increased reading instruction.


When it comes to students who struggle with foundational reading skills, Dr. Don Deshler addresses the question, "How do teachers balance the need for foundational reading instruction with the need to teach content and disciplinary literacy strategies?"

To teach to the test or to not teach to the test?

That is the question.

Explore the how (and how nots) related to preparing students for state tests in this article by Tim Shanahan published in the Reading Teacher magazine.

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A Shout Out from the Field

Over the last three years, Toledo Public Schools has worked diligently to improve their system-wide literacy efforts. TPS was awarded the Striving Readers Grant in 2018, which allowed the District to place an emphasis on professional development, instructional support, and wraparound services through the utilization of Ohio's Improvement Process. This has resulted in an upward trend in student achievement.

These are some of the factors that led to student achievement improvements implemented in 17 elementary buildings specific to learners in grades PreK - 2:


  • The utilization of Intervention Assessment Teachers in their highest need buildings; the IAT provides evidence-based systematic phonics instruction
  • Adjustments made to reading hours to ensure all students are receiving at least 90 minutes of daily reading instruction
  • Collaboration with preschool teachers to ensure that student needs are identified early
  • Professional development and training provided to teachers as it relates to the Science of Reading
  • Truancy mediation specific for students experiencing homelessness and foster care
  • Access to mobile vision and dental services to over 1,200 students
  • Full-time nurses in all of their 42 elementary buildings
  • Wraparound services with mental health partners to address stress and trauma


Toledo Public Schools Local Literacy Plan: Birth - 12 outlines how the district plans to sustain these efforts and make improvements using literacy as a leveler for school improvement in their elementary buildings. They will continue to work in five model sites with a focus on building cohesive literacy teams, PreK-Grade 3 through job-embedded professional development aligned with the Simple View of Reading. This specific planning and data analysis resulted in TPS being awarded the Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grant from the Ohio Department of Education.


Toledo Public Schools has continued to remain active in supporting and implementing Ohio's literacy efforts and initiatives; so much so that Dr. Amy Allen, Transformational Leader of Early Childhood and Special Education, was invited to be a member of ODE's State Literacy Team and Maria Bailey, Literacy Support Teacher, was invited to be a member of the Ohio Dean's Company for Higher Education Literacy Steering Committee.


Thank you, Toledo Public Schools, for your commitment to improving literacy instruction for students!

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Literacy Leaders Network

January 12 | February 9 | March 16 | April 20 | May 11 | June 8

Did you miss our first Literacy Leaders Network meetup? Check out the video below for a recap.

Literacy Leaders Introduction
Supporting Teachers of Students with Complex Needs

January 13 | February 17 | March 17 | April 21 | May 12

Adolescent Literacy Leaders Network

January 19 | March 17 | May 19

Emergent Literacy Series

January 22 | February 12 | March 5

Additional Learning Resources

Science of Reading Series

Professional Learning series begins January 10 | Presented by Michelle Elia, Ohio Literacy Lead

Partnerships for Literacy: Family Engagement & Home-based Literacy Supports
June 3 Barbara Boone Presentation Video Final 3
West Ed: Supporting Young English Learners at Home with Language and Literacy Development
How to Support Young Multilingual and English Learner Students at Home with Early Language and Literacy Skills

Happy Holidays from the SST1 Literacy Team

The State Support 1 Offices will be closed from December 23 through January 3 to allow our staff time to celebrate the holidays.


We hope you have a restful, safe, and joyous season of celebration!

Contact State Support Team 1

We are here for you!

Please feel free to reach out if you have questions or need guidance on instruction, increasing educator capacity, shared leadership, or any other literacy-related topic.

There are no copyright restrictions on this document; however, please cite and credit the source when copying all or part of this document. This document was supported in whole or in part by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, (Award #H027A200111, CFDA 84.027A, awarded to the Ohio Department of Education). The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, and no official endorsement by the Department should be inferred.