Structured Literacy


Structured Literacy is a way to teach students to read. Structured Literacy is based on hundreds of thousands of research studies. This body of knowledge is called the Science of Reading.


Structured Literacy follows a specific order to teach reading, from simple to more complex skills, based on how we know people’s brains work. Teachers focus on the exact skills students need to know to go from speech to printed words. Structured Literacy is hands-on learning. Listening, speaking, reading, and writing are often paired with one another to support a student’s learning. Structured Literacy may look like: 

  • Teaching letter names and sounds

  • Sounding out letters and how they blend together into words

  • Building words with letter tiles and other objects

  • Tapping or clapping out sounds and syllables in words

  • Using a word-mapping chart to show students how each separate sound in a word is made by one or more specific letters

  • Making sentences with words on cards

  • Color-coding sentences in paragraphs


Within Structured Literacy, instruction is direct, explicit and systematic. We do not ask students to “guess” words or use “context clues” in a book to teach them how to read. We encourage students to get to know the sounds that each letter makes and how they go together to form words. We introduce new sounds and other skills in a specific order and review those new teachings often, using reading materials that match the specific skills we are teaching. We correct mistakes made during reading time so students get immediate feedback.

  • Code Emphasis in Primary Grades

This means that grades K-3 especially will focus on acquiring the skills to crack the code of our alphabet to the speech sounds in English. (There are 44 speech sounds in English and 150 ways to read and spell them!) Kids must first learn to decode/sound-out words before they can understand the meaning of text, therefore, we will emphasize instruction in ‘cracking the code’ in grades K-3. 

  • Explicit and Systematic Phonics Instruction

We will have an order or continuum of phonics skills, progressing from simple to complex, that will be followed throughout the early grades. Students will progress through the continuum as they master skills. In the intermediate grades (3-5), word study will continue with more multisyllabic word decoding and morphology (learning about word parts such as Greek and Latin roots). 

  • Early intervention

If we see any signs that your child may be struggling with the foundational skills of reading, we will not take a ‘wait and see’ approach; we will immediately implement interventions and monitor their progress. The best solution to the problem of reading failure is early identification and intervention. 

  • Phonemic Awareness

This is the ability to get to the individual sounds in words by listening and to identify and manipulate those sounds orally. While this skill will be emphasized in grades K-1, we will make sure all students at Bexley City Schools have this necessary foundation. Students in the intermediate grades may need to practice these skills until they have firmed up this foundation of reading. Don’t be surprised if you have a 3rd - 5th grader who will be working on phonemic awareness! This is an area that the research has indicated is hugely important! 

  • Decodable Readers

Our early readers will be working with decodable readers. These are books or passages that only include words that the students can ‘decode’ (sound-out) according to the skills they have been taught thus far. Our kids need practice with the phonics skills they are learning and these books and passages provide that practice. So be aware that at times, your primary students may be bringing home a sheet of paper with a passage for practice rather than a book. 

  • Assessments

Your child will be assessed using Acadience Reading K-6 to determine their knowledge of specific skills. Students in 1st-5th grade will be assessed on the Oral Reading Fluency rate for their grade level. These nationally normed one-minute assessments give us a good indication of how easy or difficult reading is for your child. From there, we can give diagnostic assessments in word reading and nonsense word reading to find out which areas in the continuum of phonics skills they need help with. Your child will not be assigned a reading level, such as A, or M, or R (any level A-Z) as in the past. If your child shows a weakness in any area, they will be progress monitored and given interventions to help them become stronger in their area of weakness.


If your child’s screener indicates that they have signs that they are at risk of dyslexia, you will receive additional information about how we are supporting your child:

  • Your child will be given a more in depth screener to further pinpoint the area for intervention

  • Your child will be provided with additional support through Structured Literacy Instruction

  • Your child’s progress will be monitored every two weeks in the skill that is the area of weakness

  • Your child’s teacher will update you on their progress 


Here are some ways that you can support your child’s reading skills:

  • Stay Positive! Our brains are like a muscle, and the harder we work at learning new skills, the more we will learn and grow. Ask your child what they are learning, and how it is going. Talking positively about school and learning, and setting high expectations about learning are some of the best supports you can provide.

  • Keep in Touch! It is the school’s job to provide a free and appropriate public education to your child, and you and your family are important partners with your child’s school. Your child’s teachers can share any ideas for what you can do at home, consistent with what the school is teaching your child. 

Instructional Coaches

Jana Clarke

Katie Appel

Literacy Specialists

Katie Langolf
Cassingham Elementary Schools

Sue Pampush
Maryland & Montrose Elementary Schools

Meredith Stone
Montrose Elementary School

Heidi Varner
Maryland Elementary School