Elementary Literacy

Dr. Magda Parvey,
Assistant to the Superintendent for Elementary Curriculum and Instruction



Over the last three years we have investigated and started to implement more research-based best practices in reading instruction. We have also started the work necessary to prepare our staff to implement a dynamic reading program that will significantly increase time for teaching reading as well as students’ independent reading. Research has shown that the amount of reading students do is related to increased achievement. “Good readers read regularly, voluntarily and voraciously” (Fountas and Pinnell, 2006). We want all of our students to read many kinds of fiction and nonfiction, as well as expand their skills.

The approach we are adopting in the West Islip School District combines explicit teaching in small groups (guided reading) and a large amount of independent reading. Teachers select books that students can read successfully and, through instruction, gradually increase the level of difficulty and variety. Teachers also instruct students on how to select independent “just right” books to help readers build effective reading strategies and a love of reading. As we implement this approach, we will require a significant increase to the number and variety of books available to students to support guided reading, independent reading, and home reading.

Elementary teachers in West Islip will be assessing/benchmarking students to determine their reading levels three times a year. This will allow teachers to successfully match books to readers and monitor progress. Matching books to readers promotes reading opportunities that will help students develop an effective reading process. We expect the implementation of our instructional program to have positive outcomes for students’ reading achievement.