Dr. Douglas L. Ragland

Retired Superintendent of Schools

Literacy Plan​

Keys to a Comprehensive Literacy Program

Based on my experiences as Superintendent of Schools in two respective school districts, I am sharing the steps, components and makeup of a Literacy Plan that we utilized to great success.

I. Step One-Identification of Data System and School-Wide-This section illustrates assessment tools, practices, alignment, philosophy, and leadership that are essential means to enhance students academically via assessment, planning, teaching, re-teaching, and final mastering of skills. The following gives a comprehensive view of our essential tools in implementing and meeting the needs of our students via our literacy plan.

     A. Assessment Tools and Measures

1. Analysis of Demographic Data from Standardized Tests

2. Pre and Post Testing According to Analysis of Data

3. Curriculum Alignment K-12 and Postsecondary

4. Standardized Testing- Stanford Achievement Test (SAT), Alabama Reading and Math Test (ARMT), and Alabama High School Graduation Exams (AHSGE)

5. Statewide Writing Assessments

6. Statewide Science Assessments

7. Individualized Education Plans

8. Gifted Testing and Programs

9. Think Link Testing

10. Semester Exams

11. Reading Initiative

12. Alabama Math and Science Technology

13. Advanced Placement Exams for Academic Core Courses such as English, Literature and Comprehension, Mathematics, World History, and Social Studies Science.

14. Dual Enrollment Courses with Higher Education for Career Development.

15. Career Technical Opportunities for Success via Business Industry Certified Courses tailored to meet the students and community needs in an effort to prepare students for success in the Business and Industry World. These courses were as follows: Business/Marketing, Cosmetology, Health Science, Agri-Science, Agri-Technology, Business Education, Business, Automotive Technology, Family and Consumer Science, and Cooperative Education.

16. Evaluation of student performance via benchmark testing, semester and end of the year exams, quizzes, tests, classroom activities and the like.

17. Evaluation of Personnel via Professional Education Personnel Evaluation System via observations, structured interviews, pre and post conferences, professional development, and analysis of performance of students throughout the year.

This was in essence our data analysis system-wide, as well as within the schools that ensured success in literacy for our students and district.

B.     The Comprehensive Mission Statement and Philosophy of the District(s)

The Mission Statement for the School Systems I served was as follows: Our mission is to have a world class school system by educating every child fully, serving every stakeholder, immensely, and consequently ensuring the optimal success of our children, parents and community at large. Our district will be known for a Tradition of Excellence and Pathway for Success, thus leaving no child, no parent and no community behind!!! Remember, Together Everyone Accomplishes More (TEAM).

C.     Elements of Alignment in Successfully Implementing Literacy Plan

In successfully implementing our literacy plan we worked in accordance with our Alabama State Course of Study in following it as well as creating local professional developmental instructional strategies and documents in alignment with the state course of study for assessment purposes.

In addition we formulated all instructional testing and professional development based on the standards and expectations of the state mandated testing requirements to assimilate and prepare our students for success when they actually took the state exams.

Last, but not least, in both districts I served we adopted the Alabama State Department Education Ruler to ensure success in the following areas: Highly Qualified Personnel, Advanced Curriculum, Safe and Secure Schools, Development of Educational Leaders within and beyond the Classroom.

These were in essence the elements we viewed and used successfully in implementing our literacy plan.

D.     Leadership Necessary for Successful Literacy Plan.

In the districts, I served as Superintendent we were very inclusive in terms of having key personnel and stakeholders involved in the creation, monitoring and implementation of the District Literacy Plan. Some of these individuals were as follows: (1) Principals, (2) Teachers, (3) School-wide Paraprofessionals and Auxiliary Staff, (4) Parent Teacher Association Leaders, (5) Central Office Curriculum and Auxiliary Leaders, (5) State Department of Education Department Leaders, (6) Community Leaders and Volunteers, (10) Children’s Policy Council, (11) School Board Members, (12) Postsecondary Education Leaders, (13) The Greater Alabama Council of Boy Scouts of America Youth Leadership Development Program, and (14) Elected Officials are just a few of the leaders in the district, schools, state, and community that were utilized as valuable resources in the successful implementation of our literacy plan.

This a summary of the leadership we utilized in successfully implementing our literacy plan.

II. Step Two- Communication- Communication is the key to success in any organization and without question this applies to having a very successful literacy plan. The communication must be both internal and external as listed below.

A. Internal Communication

1. School Board Members

2. Superintendent

3. Central Office Staff

4. Principals

5. Teachers

6. Staff

7. Students

8. Parents

B. External Communication

1. Alabama State Department of Education

2. Community Leaders

3. Community Volunteers

4. Children’s Policy Council

5. Clergy

6. Chamber of Commerce

7. Elected Officials

8. Governmental Officials

9. Higher Education Institutions of Learning

10. The Greater Alabama Council of Boy Scouts of America Youth Leadership Development Program.

This is in essence, the key communication elements we utilized in the districts I served as Superintendent in developing, monitoring and implementing a successful literacy plan.

III. Step Three-Professional Development-Professional Development is the key to success in literacy and this is where it starts. One must be professionally developed to enhance his or her competency levels and this in turn filters down to the student who will be the ultimate beneficiaries of the teachers’ enhance skills and professional development. In the districts I served professional development was a high priority and the following illustrates how it was implemented.

A. Needs

1. Teacher and Administrator Assessment of Needs based on Curriculum Goals and Student Achievement Results.

2. Goal setting in relation to Student Achievement Goals for the District.

3. Conferencing individually and collectively on setting, monitoring and assessment of instructional goals.

4. Monies were allocated to provide for conferences for employees and to bring in presenters for local in-services to meet these needs.

B. Capacity

1. In the districts I served the percentage of Highly Qualified and Professional Certified Teachers were 99%and 100% respectively. Our focus was on having professionally certified people in the classrooms in every area at all times.

2. All administrators were professionally certified in schools and the central office.

3. We had National Board Certified Teachers in the districts I served and was to get all teachers Nationally Board Certified in both districts I served.

4. All critical need areas such as math, science and special education were fully staffed and with certified personnel.

5. Although Alternative Certification for Teachers was legal and available, we decided that our goal would not be to utilize that option because we wanted highly qualified and certified teachers available for every student.

C. Technology

1. All students had access to computers in every classroom with each class have a minimum of five computers.

2. All schools had computer labs for students to work on assignments.

3. In one district I served, in addition to having classroom computers and a computer lab, the high school had a Distance Learning Lab where we could educate students via instruction from other campuses if they offered courses that we did not have available at our school. Also if other schools with Distance Learning Labs did not have and needed courses available at our school, then we could offer that benefit of taking the course or courses at our school via online learning as well.

4. We also had surveillance cameras and security at all of our facilities and thus we could monitor each campus from the central office as well.

D. Embedded Opportunities

1. Professional Opportunities via grant funding were afforded to our teachers and administrators through the University of Alabama at Birmingham In-service Center.

2. We also had a central Office staff member on the UAB In-Service Board to take our needs and requests for funding consideration.

3. We worked collaboratively with Miles College in creating professional Development Partnerships for Teachers and Administrators.

4. Development of Professional Development Partnership for Science and Math Teachers with Tuskegee University Faculty and Staff

5. Development of Partnerships with Higher Education Institutions offering

6. Dual Enrollment.

E. Team Meetings

1. I held monthly cabinet meetings with my staff including my principals, and central office staff for informational, planning and assessment updates.

2. Principals met with staff individually to focus on individual school goals and to assess progress.

3. Principals conduct staff meetings to collectively discuss goals, strategies for success and implementation phases.

4. Teachers meet in grade level meetings to assess goals, strategies, curriculum alignment in terms of where students are and where they are expected to be at the end of the year.

F. Instructional Support

1. Superintendent

2. Curriculum Director

3. Federal​ Programs Director

4. Special Education Coordinator

5. Technology Director

6. Principals

7. Assistant Principals

8. Reading Initiative Specialist

9. Alabama State Department of Education Curriculum Specialists

G. Conferences

1. As Superintendent, I met with my professional staff and discussed individual professional development and personal goals. It was mandated that one professional development goal had to be in the area of student achievement.

2. As Superintendent, I provided professional development and monitored staff and school progress towards all goals including the student achievement goal.

3. Principals met with teachers and had individual professional development and personal goals with them. It was mandated that one professional development goal had to be in the area of student achievement.

4. Principals provided professional development and monitored staff and school progress towards all goals including the student achievement goal.

5. Program coordinators and Directors from the Central Office met with their individual reports as well as teachers they were assisting in the schools to set goals, discuss and monitor strategies for success in attaining their respective goals in the area of student achievement and success.

These were in essence our professional development plans put in place to obtain and implement an effective literacy plan.

IV. Developing Literacy Improvement Goals

A. Our goals in the district were for the district to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), the highest level of academic achievement given by the state of Alabama, every single year. We were very successful in attaining that goal every year in each district I served as Superintendent.

B. Our goal was for the majority of our students to attend post secondary institutions of learning and we did so at an 89% rate in one district and 80% in the other district I served as Superintendent.

C. Our goal was to achieve accreditation in one school district for the first time ever and to maintain accreditation in the other district and we did so.

D. Our goal was to be financially stable and have no substandard classrooms and we were successful in achieving those goals. Financially speaking, we had more than the recommended 1 month reserves by the Alabama State Department of Education. In one district we had 4 months reserves and the other we had 2.5 months.

E. Our goal was to have all Career Technical Programs 100% Business Industry-Certified, and we accomplished that goal in both school systems I served as Superintendent.

These were just some of the outstanding literacy goals we initiated and successfully attained during my tenure as Superintendent of Schools.

                             V. Creating a Strategic Plan- As Superintendent of Schools we utilized our Educational Ruler as our strategic plan in the following ways:

 A. Timetable

1. K-12 Students taught by highly qualified and certified personnel.
2. All students mastering 80% of reading and math goals.
3. Daily teaching, assessing, and re-teaching.
4. Weekly benchmark testing.
5. Regular classroom and pull out settings in the schools.
6. These strategies were utilized where appropriate from 2004-2010.

1. K-12 Students taught by highly qualified and certified personnel.
2. All students mastering 80% of reading and math goals.
3. Daily teaching, assessing, and re-teaching.
4. Weekly benchmark testing.
5. Regular classroom and pull out settings in the schools.
6. These strategies were utilized where appropriate from 2004-2010.

B. Resources

1. Think Link, Reading and Math Computer Software.

2. Technology labs such as computer and distance learning.

3. Classroom computers with a minimum of 5 computers per class.

4. SAT, ARMT and Writing Assessment Materials.

5. Academic Tutorial Programs from 21 Century Grant Funds.

6. Courses of Study& research based content journals and strategies.

C. Monitoring Plan

1. Daily teaching, re-teaching and testing in the classroom.

2. Impromptu and scheduled Principal observations.

3. Central office and or state department walkthrough observations.

4. Weekly benchmark testing.

5. Reading Initiative and AMSTI Walkthroughs.

6. Yearly Statewide Testing.

D. Data Plan

1. Evaluation used via assessment tools for students.

2. Formal and informal evaluations of Personnel.

3. Professional Development efficiency in attainment of goals.

4. Summary of all data procedures in this plan. 

E. Community Forum

1. Annual Educational Summit to address state of the system.

2. Regular Parent Teacher Conferences.

3. Statewide Parent Teacher Conference Day.

4. State of the System with Chamber of Commerce.

5. Community Education Rally.

In utilizing our educational ruler for our strategic plan we certainly accomplished the goals of attaining highly qualified teachers, advanced curriculum, safe and secure schools, and development of educational leaders internally and externally. All of these led to an environment conducive to learning, success, and ultimately literacy in every aspect of the educational environment.