Findings and Lessons


November 2016

Spotlight on Salem Public Schools

After attending the September institute, the Salem (MA) leadership team had much to say about what they learned, and how they are moving forward to improve the district’s literacy programming. Read reflections from Assistant Superintendent Kate Carbone, and Literacy Coach Lauren Grace.

Salem_MA (1)What challenges were you facing (prior to the Institute)?

KATE: Only 52% of our third graders are meeting grade-level standards — we can and must do better than that. Three years ago we restructured elements of our literacy model, and we have seen steady growth and improvement…yet, we are far from satisfied with our results. As part of the pre-institute preparation, we convened a team to help chart a plan for refining and improving our literacy practices and programming. We focused squarely on supporting accelerated improvement for all students, including students with disabilities and English language learners.

What did you learn that resonated with you and applied to your district’s work?

 KATE: There were so many things at the Lectio Institute that resonated with members of our team. We especially appreciated the update on the current literacy research, and were particularly interested in the concept of academic talk. Our goal is to increase the amount of student talk while simultaneously being attentive to the quality of language interactions.

 LAUREN: The processes we engaged in during the institute allowed a deep analysis of our current programs, their intended outcomes, and the existing gaps.  Being explicit about what we are doing, why we are doing it, and what is actually working has allowed us to make decisions around resources and programs. We also have worked together on how we want to message and implement change initiatives.

What kind of changes are you making as a result of the program analysis you and your team did?

 KATE: Our team has met several times since returning to Salem. We continued our work on the Lectio Program Design Evaluation Tool and mapping all of our offerings, and used this information to prioritize next steps. At this point, we have developed a draft plan and have also identified a process for sharing the draft with stakeholders and getting feedback to inform changes. As it stands, the draft plan calls for a revision to our curriculum to more tightly integrate content and literacy; a restructuring of our kindergarten literacy units to be more focused on consistent routines and opportunities for children’s language growth; and both professional development and new materials to cultivate student-centered, language-building classrooms.

We are looking forward to our follow-up coaching call and the feedback from Nonie and Kelly to help us further refine our action plan.

LAUREN: As a result of attending Lectio, our district is developing a very clear vision and specific outcomes for our learners, birth-3rd grade. We are creating a multi-year plan utilizing the tools from Lectio to inform strategic planning. I think that our team’s work with the tool, in combination with the support given by Lectio staff, helped us go through a very worthwhile process, and made the institute an invaluable experience.