Impact of Foundations of Reading on Instruction, Intervention & Assessment

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Foundations of Reading logoImpact of Foundations of Reading on Instruction, Intervention & Assessment

The NDMTSS team developed and launched the Foundations of Reading Instruction & Intervention professional learning series in 2020 to provide K-5 educators with the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to address a variety of students’ needs in reading.

The three-part series pivoted from its original in-person format to be delivered virtually beginning in November 2020 with a session focused all on Instruction. The group came back together again in mid-December to dive into Assessment and then completed the series with a final session on Intervention at the beginning of February 2021!

A great group of 16 educators from 7 districts (Bowbells, Jamestown, Minnewauken, Newburg, North Star, Stanley, and Turtle Lake Mercer) dove into the research behind what it actually takes to be a successful reader. This means they took a hard look at the BIG 5 ideas of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary).

Individuals ranged from classroom teachers, special education teachers, Title I teachers, instructional coaches, curriculum directors, and an elementary principal!

Our data shows that, after Session 1, the participant extent of understanding the Big 5 increased from only 31% “mostly understanding” or having a “strong understanding” to 100% (with 63% having a “strong understanding”)! --- Amazing!

“I thought it was very beneficial because it ties everything together and it is doable and practical. Looking at what we have and what we are doing or not doing to match with the students needs.” – Instructional Coach – Jamestown – Lincoln Elementary School


Starting with instruction they learned how to explicitly teach these skills by understanding the scope and sequence of skills within each of the Big 5. They analyzed multiple instructional routines and materials designed to teach each while also evaluate current instructional practices and explore ways to enhance them. After just one session, all participants felt much more comfortable applying instructional routines related to the Big 5!

The training was overall extremely beneficial and really got me thinking about how to best implement effective reading strategies in my classroom.” – Elementary Teacher, Bowbells Public School



Next they moved into Assessment to gain a deep understanding of how to assess the Big 5 including the different purposes of assessment, tools that assess the Big 5, and how to use assessment data to guide an instructional response. Educators should be walking away from this session with the ability to explain a variety of assessments that can be used to measure the Big 5 and guide instruction while also evaluating current assessment practices and explore ways to enhance them! Again, we saw the level of understanding grow quite measurably regarding the role of assessments in the continuous improvement cycle AND the different purposes of assessments – see below!   


Additional response data showed that

  • 100% of participants responding indicated they could identify at least ONE assessment tool for 3 or the Big 5: Phonics, Fluency, and Comprehension. (94% were able to identify at least one for Phonemic Awareness and 82% for Vocabulary.)
  • 88% of participants responding said the session provided them with concrete ideas for improving the way you assess the foundational skills in the Big 5. (remaining 12% noted they were already aware of content presenting, but it would have helped if they weren’t previously aware)

“I think we have a better understanding of what we need to add to our assessment plan to help teachers identify instructional interventions to be used with different students.”

“I feel I have a better understanding of how often and to who, the screeners should be given to assess individual student skills.”



Rounding out the series pushed educators to match numerous strategies and resources to the continuum of the students’ needs for class-wide, small group, and/or individual reading intervention. It all builds upon Days 1 and 2 – understanding reading foundations and assessing students' needs in order to layer targeted supports for students in the most efficient and effective manner possible.

Keys to this session was to ensure they understood how to plan to address instructional needs in ALL Big 5 areas, apply data-based decision making to identify an instructional match, and evaluate current practices and explore ways to enhance them.

“The training is so valuable. It dives deep into all the areas of intervention I need to work on as I continue with the students in Title 1 reading, as well as supporting teachers if they have questions on kids as we look at data each benchmark.” – Special Ed. Teacher – Stanley Elementary School

Participants were asked about their comfortability level in providing reading intervention supports at multiple levels… see their before and after results!

Across all five areas of reading emphasized during this professional learning series, participants showed tremendous growth in regard to their ability to apply instructional routines as well as interventions at the class-wide, group, and individual student levels.  Over 80% of participants reported feeling “comfortable” or “very comfortable” providing intervention supports for each of the 5 areas of reading after the training, compared to less than 50% for nearly all intervention supports prior to the training.

In addition to being able to provide reading intervention support at levels noted above, this training also sought to enhance educators use of data to match interventions to student needs. 

  • 25% PRIOR to the training, less than a quarter of participants indicated feeling at least “comfortable” doing this. 
  • 88% AFTER the training, this increased to 88.2% of participants, with nearly a quarter feeling “very comfortable” (see graph below). 


Over all three sessions100% of participants noting they would recommend this training to a colleague, saying thing such as:  

“This is a great training with lots of information. It would be a great training as a school, so everyone is on the same page and can collaborate.” – Elementary Teacher – Turtle Lake-Mercer Public School
“This would be a fantastic professional development course for our whole school!  You have been so supportive in the information we need and with so many great resources!” –  Special Educator – Stanley Elementary School
“I wish more people from my school would have taken part.”

Looking at changes in participants’ knowledge regarding the 5 big areas of reading and assessments, the training was very effective at increasing participants’ knowledge for each.  Prior to the training, less than 50% of participants indicated being at least “mostly understanding” regarding the 5 big areas of reading, the role of assessments in continuous improvement, and the purposes of assessments.  After the training, each increased to over 90%, with participants having the strongest understanding for the 5 big areas of reading.


Questions? Please contact Colette Cunningham at

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