Standards, Curriculum and Instruction

  • District Literacy Plan for Pre-K through Grade 3

    South St. Paul's Mission: 
    Ignite a passion in every learner to inquire, continuously improve and engage in positively changing our world.

    South St. Paul's Literacy Goal: 
    Develop and implement a developmentally appropriate framework for literacy instruction so that all learners reach their fullest potential.

    • Develop a comprehensive early learning literacy plan that ensures Pre-K through Grade 3 students reach grade level learning targets by the close of each school year.
    • Plot a course of action to develop integrated curriculum in all subject areas that aligns with the IB units of inquiry, starting with Pre-K through Grade 3 and expanding through Grade 12.

    Instruction Leadership

    District and Site Leadership Teams will create a data-driven professional learning plan, provide ongoing support for the implementation of the plan, and conduct ongoing analysis and monitoring of the literacy plan.

    1. A district literacy team has been established to include representation from the followings areas:

    • Pre-K – grade 3 classroom
    • ELL
    • Special Education
    • IB PYP
    • Technology
    • Literacy Coach/Coordinator
    • Intervention
    • District Administration
    • School Administration
    • Community Member(s) 

    2. The district Literacy/Leadership team will be facilitated by the Literacy Coordinator.

    3. The district Literacy/Leadership team will meet to:

    • Ensure all teachers are informed and maximize learning opportunities.
    • Plan for and deliver initial implementation sessions with teachers.
    • Provide ongoing support and monitoring of the implementation plan.
    • Review and analyze all assessments available per the assessment plan, utilizing data from the site teams and district assessment team.
    • Develop a process to assess students' level of proficiency, inform parents, intervene and identify, and meet staff development needs.
    • Make informed decisions when practices and programs need change or modification and note successes in the plan. 

    4. Each site will establish a literacy team with representation from the areas identified above. The site literacy teams will:

    • Share successful instructional practices for literacy occurring at the site in all content areas.
    • Determine ongoing needs of staff for professional development.
    • Provide ongoing support and monitoring of implementation of the plan by the site.
    • Review and analyze all site-based assessments available per the assessment plan, utilizing data from the professional learning teams and school-wide assessments.
    • Provide recommendations for professional development, use of local assessments, implementation concerns/successes, data on intervention practices and other ideas/issues to the district literacy team to assist them in making informed decisions regarding the implementation.

    5. Facilitators for the site literacy teams will be determined locally.

    Alignment of Curriculum and Instruction

    Align and articulate horizontally and vertically within the school and district to provide a fluid transition from Pre-K – K, class-to-class, grade-to-grade, and school-to-school. Effective instructional principles are embedded throughout the school day, balancing foundational literacy skills and strategy instruction.

    "... students should experience a common academic core that prepares them for both college and workforce training, regardless of their future plans." (ACT study)

    1. Curriculum

    • Staff has developed learning targets ("I Can" statements) for all strands of the 2010 MN ELA standards.
      • Learning targets will be reviewed on an ongoing basis (trimester), revised and/or added to the curriculum map of the standards.
      • Learning targets will be reviewed to ensure the learning has content knowledge and critical thinking skills embedded in each target.
      • Learning targets will be reviewed and clustered as appropriate to align to the IB Units of Inquiry as well as other curriculum materials identified.
      • Learning targets for reading will be matched to appropriate writing targets to ensure inquiry driven learning; reading and discussion which should culminate in more extended writing and public presentations, as appropriate.

    • Evidence-based curriculum is aligned to the Early Childhood Indicators of Progress and the grade level benchmarks in the 2010 MN ELA standards.
      • Pre-K milestones
        • "I Can" statements in literacy have been drafted for 3 and 4 years olds.
        • Vertical articulation between pre-K and K will create common instructional language based on the "I Can" statements.
        • Create a literacy-rich learning environment in the classroom.
        • Promote language development through running commentary, wordwalls and conversation.
        • Ask questions that encourage language development.
        • Use the daily schedule to promote vocabulary and background knowledge.

      • K-3 milestones
        • Expand use of non-fiction text and explicitly teach vocabulary and comprehension, with the expectation students will apply these strategies to a wide range of texts.
        • Provide for high-quality literacy rich environments in all classrooms.
        • Build a high-quality writing component in the literacy block which maximizes the learning from reading, speaking, and listening.

    • Curriculum materials will be selected, purchased, and implemented.
      • Classrooms in grades K-6 will use a scientifically research-based literacy program including all strands of literacy in conjunction with a current writing program.
      • Special education students will receive core literacy instruction from the classroom teacher; additional instructional timeframes available for Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions.
      • ELL students will receive core literacy instruction from the classroom teacher; co-teaching and/or additional instructional timeframes will be available from ELL specialists assigned to the site.

    2. Instruction

    • Effective instructional principles will be embedded through the school day and include cognitive engagement in the five pillars of reading.
    • Oral language development will be emphasized throughout the schools.
    • All classrooms will promote cooperative learning experiences.
    • Instruction is culturally sensitive and values cultural knowledge.
    • Literacy, and other core subjects, IB units of inquiry, include the use of fiction and nonfiction texts of varying genres that focus on many cultures and different parts of the world.
    • Instruction will be delivered by balancing foundation literacy skills and strategy instruction with high expectations for all students.
    • Direct, explicit comprehension instruction will support students in using strategies flexibly when reading independently for comprehension. The following are representative comprehension strategies:
      • Summarizing
      • Comprehension monitoring
      • Use of graphic and semantic organizers
      • Connecting reading to writing
      • Higher-level question answering about text
      • Question generation before, during, and after reading
    • Extended time for literacy when necessary based on assessment review in Pre-K and K; K-3 will have a 90-minute uninterrupted literacy instruction block.
    • Instruction will include a technology component as a tool and a topic of literacy.
    • A differentiated approach to literacy instruction includes direct teaching, small group instruction, and independent learning time that provide students with opportunities to apply skills and strategies to texts through reading, writing, and discussion of authentic contexts.
    • Meta-cognitive and comprehension strategies during the literacy block will be linked to aligned units of inquiry, when possible.



    Assessments include a balance of ongoing formative and summative assessments, as well as screening and diagnostic assessments of student learning.

    1. The district will develop a seamless Pre-K–Grade 3 integrated assessment system that is aligned with state and local standards that will assess children throughout the year to determine if they meet grade level benchmarks and are on track to meet proficiency on the third grade MCA assessment.

    Assessments currently in place and on calendar:

    • NWEA is administered to all students in September, December-January and May.
    • Publisher and/or teacher-made formative assessments will be given on an ongoing basis to analyze level of proficiency and inform instruction.
    • Fluency probes will be administered on a scheduled basis to all students; at-risk students will be identified for more frequent administration.
    • MCA-III in reading will be administered during the testing window(s).
    • W-APT will be used for identification of ELL student needs.
    • ACCESS will be given to all ELL identified students in the February-March test window.
    • Intervention team will use ORR, Fluency Probes for progress monitoring and diagnostics, if possible.

    2. The District Literacy Team will review and analyze all assessments given by teacher, school, and/or district.

    • The site literacy team will review site-based tests to inform instruction and submit summaries of teacher and site-based test to the district literacy team for review.
    • The district literacy team will utilize the summaries submitted and district assessments to monitor student growth, inform instruction, and monitor and revise the literacy plan as appropriate.
    • From that assessment, the team will develop a process to assess students' level of proficiency, inform parents, intervene and identify, and meet staff development needs.

    3. Both formal and informal assessments will be used to provide data that drives instruction, supports differentiation, and documents alignment of instruction to academic standards.

    4. Each grade level and specialist professional learning community will continue to work to expand forms of formative assessment, including, but not limited to, additional higher order thinking questions, performance tasks, and writing assessments.

    5. All PLCs and district/site literacy teams will use screening, diagnostic, and ongoing progress monitoring to inform the instructional content activity, delivery, or supplemental materials and assistive technology needed to meet children's instructional needs and strengths.

    Multi-Tiered Systems of Support

    Multi-tiered instructional plan for classroom and interventions is based on the Data Driven Decision Making model implemented in the professional learning communities.

    1. Vertical articulation between Pre-K and K will match systems in each program to assist in alignment of tiered intervention practices.

    2. The multi-tiered instructional plan will be based on the Data Driven Decision Making model and designed to accelerate the learning for all at-risk students.

    • Placement in intervention is determined by examination of multiple data points (includes entrance and exit criteria).
    • Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions will be built on improved instructional practices and aligned curricular materials. 

    3. Expanded intervention opportunities will be reviewed and plan developed and implemented:

    • Literacy–supplement, IB unit of inquiry, targeted Tier 1, Tier2, vocabulary
    • Accelerated learning
    • IEP goals
    • Language acquisition/vocabulary development
    • Differentiation 

    4. The intervention plan emphasizes differentiation in core instruction and includes extended time for literacy instruction in and outside of the school day.

    5. Intervention will teach, reinforce, and support intensive and supplemental strategies in core instruction, including individual and small group instruction based on need.

    6. Intervention plan will accelerate and support student literacy development by focusing on:

    • Research-based intervention practices that are developmentally appropriate.
    • Assumes all struggling readers can succeed if they receive supplemental instruction to accelerate their learning.
    • Provides additional instruction in skill development.
    • Pays attention to higher-level talk about text (K-5) and includes comprehension.

    7. All of the above will be accomplished in connection with students’ parents and other caregivers, as appropriate.

    Job-Embedded Professional Development

    Professional development that is data driven, ongoing and is inclusive of all educators within a school community will be integral to successful implementation of the plan.

    1. Professional learning communities currently in place are data driven, identifying learning targets ("I Can" statements), developing and implementing formative assessment based on the targets and utilizing the data to inform instruction. This collaboration will continue to reflect on student progress, review student work, review data, and align instruction to academic standards and desired learner outcomes.

    2. Coaching will be provided by the literacy coordinator, leadership/facilitator of each PLC, and educators focused on increasing teacher capacity to impact student literacy development and proficiency for all students.

    3. Staff development will be provided for teachers implementing new curricular materials to support the achievement of identified learning targets.

    • Vendor sessions will be based on materials information, demo lessons, development of meta- cognitive strategies, and making connection to the IB units of inquiry.
    • Professional development will be ongoing throughout the school year focusing on the following job-embedded opportunities:
      • New/revised instructional practices focusing on skills AND concepts to meet the learning targets.
        • Individual/team coaching
        • Demo lessons
        • Staff meeting sessions focused on strategies
        • Early release days
        • Literacy collaboratives (after school professional development developed on teacher need/request)
        • Inservice days
      • Continued data driven decision making model
        • Team coaching
        • Staff meeting sessions
        • Early release days
        • Inservice days
      • Differentiation/large and small group instruction
        • Individual/team coaching
        • Demo lessons
        • Early release days
        • Literacy collaboratives
        • Inservice days
      • Formative/performance assessments
        • Connections with IB units of inquiry
        • Team coaching
        • Early release days
        • Inservice days
        • Literacy collaboratives


    Family-Community Partnership

    Create and maintain a plan for improving parent and community engagement by clearly defining communication feedback loops, avenues for families and community members to express their needs and concerns, and to identify clear pathways for families to stay informed of ways they can support their child's literacy development.

    1. The district literacy team will identify the communication plan for parents regarding proficiency levels of literacy for each child. This will be a priority assignment for the team at the first meeting.

    2. Special events and opportunities will be scheduled to allow teachers and students working with parents to support student literacy achievement in the home/outside of school.

    • The diversity team will investigate EMID opportunities for families/students in early literacy.
    • The new grant will provide IPod shuffles for Kindergarten use at home to support literacy.
    • Identified community opportunities will support literacy for all South St. Paul students.

    3. The district will create an early learning community, tapping resources for preschoolers and K- grade 3 from the South St. Paul community.

    4. The district will identify interested parents of ELL students to begin to work with families of color on a parent academy.